It is a pleasure to give a shout out to commentator par excellence and ACSH friend Trevor Butterworth.
In his recent Forbes op-ed Butterworth sticks his arm deep into the muck created by the mixing of science and politics, and comes up with a disturbing conclusion that there is a disconnect between what scientists think should be done in assessing risks (of chemicals, for example) and what really happens.
Butterworth s premise, based on a survey of three professional societies (all of which study risk evaluation) is that science is being pushed aside by politics and environmental advocacy when it comes to protecting the public from the risks of chemicals.
He notes, When asked to weigh the most important factor that should go into managing risk, the scientists overwhelmingly said science (98 percent). But when asked to weigh the factors that do influence risk management, science trailed legal concerns (72 percent), politics (66 percent), the precautionary principle (52 percent), and environmentalists (49 percent); at 47 percent, science barely exceeded the weight of influence of the media (43 percent).
In other words, political considerations trump scientific data. Which is disturbing, but not especially surprising, says Dr. Bloom, who has written a number of op-eds debunking phony scientific studies obviously designed to advance a particular agenda. He continues, When legal and political considerations guide science, the real message is obscured and it is all but guaranteed that a bad policy will result.
You can read Butterworth s op-ed in its entirety here.