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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.

EPA Inspector General Pushes Agency on Scientific Integrity

The EPA inspector general last week released the results of an investigation following up on the agency’s implementation of its scientific integrity policy (thanks to Michal Conger of the Washington Examiner for the heads up). But here’s an interesting question: is the inspector general’s attention misplaced? Read More

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pluralism: The Advantage of Holding Multiple Worldviews

Yesterday, I published a blog post about Martin Luther King Jr.’s appreciation for science and scientific inquiry, and how this appreciation related to his strong faith. I received several messages from readers who appreciated the fact that I had unearthed the reverend’s writings and put some thought into my interpretation of them. Then, after UCS posted an image with a quote from Dr. King on its Facebook page, all hell broke loose. Read More

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Science, Religion, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it’s worth reflecting on the philosophies of the Civil Rights Movement’s most well-known leader. And it’s fascinating to me that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a lot to say about science. Read More

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White House, Finally, Releases Silica Rule

And now, for some good news. After more than two years of unnecessary delay, the White House Office of Management and Budget has finally allowed the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to move forward with a proposed rule to protect workers from exposure to silica dust. I hope this is a sign that the White House will allow federal agencies to develop science-based public protections that advance their public health missions. That said, the development of the silica rule has been a fiasco, and much of the blame for delay lies with the White House.

I have written about this several times, but to recap:

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Messengers Matter: Overcoming the Age of Denial

The Internet is abuzz with University of Rochester Professor Adam Frank’s op-ed provocatively titled “Welcome to the Age of Denial.” It’s the most e-mailed piece on the New York Times right now, and it’s all over social media. It’s an interesting critique, and a great call to action. Many scientists and science communicators share his frustration, and believe that science and scientific thinking are increasingly marginalized in a time when so many of the challenges we face are science-based. Of equal importance, however, is how we frame and contextualize science—and how we deliver its messages.

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Are Scientific Integrity Policies Working? The Case of the Freshwater Mussels

In a letter released by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) and first reported in E&E Daily (subscription), and later by the Associated Press, the Interior Department Inspector General criticized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to make restitution to whistleblowers who rightly exposed scientific integrity violations by their supervisors, and for failing to discipline the supervisors for their actions. To avoid further perceptions of impropriety, the FWS should respond quickly to the inspector general and detail how the agency is following up on the investigation. Read More

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Don’t Like the Endangered Species Act? Try to Weaken It by Gutting the Science

The Endangered Species Act has one of the strongest scientific foundations of any environmental law in the United States. And with some predictability, some members of Congress try to tear down that foundation. This year is no different. Read More

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Science, Politics, and Democracy News You May Have Missed

This is my vacation month. I spent last week with family hiking in the middle of the Adirondacks (see the photo, below). On Friday, I’m taking a week to road trip with a friend who is moving to our nation’s capital. Yet the interesting science and democracy stories haven’t stopped. (Also, apparently, there was some presidential climate speech and a bunch of stuff happened at the Supreme Court). So here’s what came into my email box when I was gone that I don’t have much time to write about because I’m leaving again: Read More

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As Obama Administration Folds on Emergency Contraception, A Full Timeline of Events

The Obama administration yesterday dropped its appeal of a judge’s order to follow the science and allow consumers full over the counter access to the emergency contraception known as Plan B. I never thought I’ve be invoking Kenny Rogers in a blog post, but somehow it now seems to fit: you gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.The Obama administration should have folded long ago; for reasons unknown, it chose to stay in the game. In the process, it earned a serious black eye. Read More

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Appeals Court Rules Emergency Contraception Should Become Available Over The Counter

I’m at a conference this week but wanted to pass along some pretty big news on the Plan B emergency contraception saga, which keeps getting more and more strange. Read More

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