Friday, September 14, 2007


A Technological Fix for Congress

Okay, I'll add my squeak to the bloggy great roar.

Dick the Butcher famously said, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Newt, the Gingrich Who Stole Congress, said that the first thing the Republicans should do in their war on science is make sure there was no pesky scientists hanging around interfering in their truly American right to believe any ol' codswallop. As Mark Hoofnagle said:

[F]or about 30 years (from 1974 to 1995), there was an office on the Hill, named the Office of Technology Assessment, which worked for the legislative branch and provided non-partisan scientific reports relevant to policy discussions. ... Chris Mooney described [doing away with] it as Congress engaging in "a stunning act of self-lobotomy" in his book The Republican War on Science ...
[O]ur government is currently operating without any real scientific analysis of policy. Any member can introduce whatever set of facts they want, by employing some crank think tank to cherry-pick the scientific literature to suit any ideological agenda. This is truly should be a non-partisan issue. Everybody should want the government to be operating from one set of facts, ideally facts investigated by an independent body within the congress that is fiercely non-partisan ...
No, there are many politicians who most decidedly don't want facts to be determined by non-partisan experts in their fields. It gets altogether too much in the way of politics as usual. That alone is good enough reason to campaign to bring back the OTA.

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