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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.

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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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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