George W. Bush: Get Your Religion Out Of Our Science genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Voodoo Science

It looks to be one of those days...a day that one might argue is filled with moments of hyper-reality...a day where the news is a constant reminder of all the things one finds wrong with the state of one's country and those who are in charge at the highest level of government.

I've previously written about the President's nominee to serve as the next Surgeon General, James Holsinger. Holsinger has a strong background in medicine...but as with so many of those who are chosen to serve this president, he appears to be, first and foremost, an evangelical ideologue who lacks the ability or the willingness to sort science from scripture.

With the Senate conducting hearings on Holsinger's nomination this week, Reuters has a new article in which former Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006, details the degree to which ideology trumped his abilities to conduct his office as it should be intended...consistent with sound scientific evidence.

The Gavel also has a number of video clips from Henry Waxman's opening remarks at the hearing as well as footage of testimony from former Surgeon Generals C. Everett Koop and Dr. Carmona.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research.

"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives committee.

"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.

Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues, including the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of "abstinence-only" sex education.

"Political interference with the work of the surgeon general appears to have reached a new level in this administration," said Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to which Carmona testified.

Carmona said the administration prevented him from voicing views on stem cell research.

"I was blocked at every turn. I was told the decision had already been made -- stand down, don't talk about it," he said.

I simply do not believe the role of the president is to apply his particular religious doctrine to the nation's scientific endeavors. Even worse, when that doctrine is shown to be at odds with scientific evidence...and it is allowed to direct scientific policy, one must wonder why we even have positions like that of the Surgeon General if they are denied the autonomy to exercise their expertise.

If the power of the President is allowed to overrule science, it seems to me that it will be impossible for the Surgeon General, the National Institute of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control to develop a cohesive and comprehensive health policy...as well as to recruit talented scientists.

Under the current dynamic, these departments are vulnerable to wholesale shifts in strategy each time we elect a new president...shifts that have little to do with the actual body of scientific evidence and that would likely disrupt important research initiatives, force research companies to hesitate to tackle difficult issues, and slow down the progress to find and develop meaningful treatments for sick Americans in great need of new discoveries.

Lastly, one must consider the money that is being squandered on programs that have proven to be inadequate; including the insistence upon abstinence only education here in the United States as well as with regards to the U.S. efforts to combat HIV in Africa.

The hypocrisy attached to programs that cost millions of dollars and do little more than support ideology is beyond justification and indicative of the need to reaffirm the separation of church and state...and to reject the candidacy of those who would support and promote more of the Bush administration's "Dark Ages" demagoguery.

Image courtesy of www.tetherdcow.com

Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2007 | 3:53 PM
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Comments

1 On July 21, 2007 at 1:05 AM, anaglyph wrote —

Thanks for the image credit!

As far as George W and science are concerned, well, best of luck there. I hope the voodoo doll works for you!

Thought Theater at Blogged

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