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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.

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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So Nine Nobel Laureates Walk Into the Swedish Embassy…

It’s not often that one has an opportunity to ask a question of nine Nobel Laureates (which I did, yesterday, at a fun and unexpectedly lively event at the Embassy of Sweden, coverage here and here). But what’s considerably more interesting than my question is the numerous—and divergent—responses from the 2013 American Nobelists in chemistry, economics, and medicine. Read More

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Can Attacking Scientists Be a Political Liability?

Politicians attack scientists to score points with voters and their backers, whether it’s members of Congress attacking individual government grantees or belittling scientists whose research undermines their legislative priorities.  It got so bad that UCS put out a guide for scientists who find their work under an unusual amount of scrutiny (still a good idea to take a look before you’re in that situation).  But yesterday’s election in Virginia may showcase how these sorts of attacks can backfire, making a candidate look extreme and out of touch. Read More

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Science and Superstorm Sandy, One Year Later: Looking to the Future

Over the past year, UCS experts have shared knowledge of the consequences of sea level rise on coastal communities, convened leaders to discuss risks and evaluate appropriate responses, and analyzed problems with America’s flood insurance system. This month, we mark the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a forum at Monmouth University (you can attend in person or online), part of the Lewis M. Branscomb Forum series. Read More

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Has the NFL Covered Up Concussion and Brain Injury Research? And What Should Parents Think?

On February 17, 2011, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, one of my childhood heroes, shot himself in the chest. In a text message to family, he strongly implied that he committed suicide in this way in order to preserve his brain for research into the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury. Read More

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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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