Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Australia’s top scientist likens Trump to Stalin

MASTER MANIPULATORS:Alan Finkel said that forcing data from the US’ EPA to undergo political review before publication would ‘cause long-term harm’

The Guardian

Australian Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has slammed US President Donald Trump’s attempt to censor environmental data, saying the US president’s behavior was comparable to the manipulation of science by the Soviet Union.

Speaking yesterday at a scientific roundtable in Canberra, Finkel said that science was “literally under attack” in the US and urged his colleagues to keep giving “frank and fearless” advice despite the political opposition.

“The Trump administration has mandated that scientific data published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] from last week going forward has to undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA Web site or elsewhere,” he said.

“It defies logic. It will almost certainly cause long-term harm. It’s reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union,” he said.

“Every military commander there had a political officer second-guessing his decisions,” he said.

Last month, Trump’s administration mandated that any studies or data from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

The communications director for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said the review also extended to content on the federal agency’s Web site, including details of scientific evidence showing the Earth’s climate was warming and human-induced carbon emissions were to blame.

Finkel compared the Trump administration’s attempt to censor science to the behavior of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

“Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism,” he said.

“Stalin loved Lysenko’s conflation of science and Soviet philosophy, and used his limitless power to ensure that Lysenko’s unscientific ideas prevailed,” he said.

“Lysenko believed that successive generations of crops could be improved by exposing them to the right environment, and so too could successive generations of Soviet citizens be improved by exposing them to the right ideology,” he said.

“So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag. Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed,” he said.

“Today, the catch-cry of scientists must be frank and fearless advice, no matter the opinion of political commissars stationed at the US EPA,” he said.

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