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Michael Halpern

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About the author: Michael Halpern is an expert on political interference in science and solutions to reduce suppression, manipulation, and distortion of government science. See Michael's full bio.

Who Is that Young Scientist with Michelle Obama at the State of the Union? It’s Joey Hudy

Prediction: this is going to be a pretty neat week for high-school student Joey Hudy. The young inventor will be one of at least six great Americans who will be sitting in the First Lady’s box during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Hudy first made headlines two years ago at the White House Science Fair, where the president took personal interest in Hudy’s marshmallow cannon. Read More

Categories: Science and Democracy  

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West Virginia Scientists to EPA, CDC: Allow Your Scientists to Speak

UPDATE: See responses below from CDC and EPA officials.

This morning, two dozen West Virginia scientists wrote to the CDC and EPA to urge the two agencies to give more freedom to their scientists to communicate with the press and public, especially during emergencies like the ongoing water contamination crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. Read More

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Dear Senate: Ease Travel Restrictions on Government Scientists

Most scientists who work for the government love doing so. They develop connections with others who share their dedication to public service, and see the immediate impact of their work reflected in real-world policies that protect public health and safety or the environment. But sometimes, politics gets in the way of their full participation in the scientific enterprise, wasting taxpayer dollars invested in the researchers themselves and jeopardizing the ability of the government to attract top scientific talent. Read More

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Recap: Virginia Supreme Court Hearing on FOIA, Scientific Research, and Michael Mann

Emblazoned on the facade of the Virginia State Library, and steps from the commonwealth’s capitol and Supreme Court are the following words of the state’s most prominent former resident, Thomas Jefferson: “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. They are the natural enemies of error and of error only.” This was the setting for the second trip in as many years by the University of Virginia and climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann to the commonwealth’s highest court. Read More

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Preview of Thursday’s VA Supreme Court Hearing: University of Virginia v. American Tradition Institute

UPDATE: I have now posted a recap of the January 9 hearing.

On Thursday, the Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the American Tradition Institute’s lawsuit seeking the private correspondence of climate scientist Michael Mann and dozens of other scientists. UCS and several other scientific and educational organizations argue that granting this access would damage scientists’ ability to communicate frankly and openly with their peers, and to explore new ideas free from harassment. Read More

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Is there Really a Study on Goats and Urine? More on Senator Coburn’s Wastebook

Last week, I pushed back on Senator Tom Coburn’s attacks on federally-funded science grants, explaining that if his staff had taken the opportunity to speak with the researchers in question that he might have a better understanding of the importance of the research he was making fun of. The researchers were eager to talk to me, and I quoted a couple of them in a blog post. In the time since, others have spoken out to explain how the senator’s “Wastebook” was off the mark. Read More

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The Science Behind the Grants on Senator Coburn’s Hit List: The Waste that Wasn’t

It’s as predictable as a curse word in a Bob Saget comedy routine. Periodically, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn puts out a review of the government projects that he and his staff have designated as wasteful government spending. And each time, his list includes a number of research grants that he thinks are preposterous. Silly. Emblematic of a Washington that is severely out of touch with the American people. In these reports, science becomes a laugh line. Read More

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Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Science

Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. It is worth reflecting on his ability to transcend politics when speaking about contentious scientific issues. Nowhere was this more apparent than the difficult politics surrounding HIV/AIDS at the turn of the millennium. Read More

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The Heartland Institute Hijacks American Meteorological Society’s Name, and AMS Fights Back

The Heartland Institute—you know, the friendly folks behind the ads comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber—is at it again. In an email sent Thanksgiving week, the organization attempted to use the good name of the American Meteorological Society to misrepresent the views of society members regarding global warming science. It’s the latest in a series of attempts by groups such as Heartland to hide behind the names of legitimate scientific organizations to influence public understanding of climate science. Read More

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Francesca Grifo Leaves UCS to Oversee Scientific Integrity at EPA

UCS’s Francesca Grifo, who has advocated for strong scientific integrity standards within government since 2005, started today as the EPA’s scientific integrity officer. She is charged with implementing the EPA’s scientific integrity policy. It’s a big win for the agency, and will hopefully spark a renewed commitment to scientific integrity within the federal government. Read More

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