Francesca Grifo - Science Under Obama
Posted: 30 July 2010 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
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When President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, he pledged to “restore science to its rightful place” in the U.S. government. And true to his word, the president promptly staffed his cabinet with distinguished scientific leaders, liberated embryonic stem cell research from the Bush era restrictions, and released a memorandum on “scientific integrity” intended to reverse the kinds of problems seen in the Bush years.

Since those days, however, the “scientific integrity” agenda does not seem to have filtered through the federal government as hoped. And according to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, some scientists are having problems in this administration when it comes to speaking with the media, or having their research results properly handled by their superiors.

To put these developments in context, Point of Inquiry called upon Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. As Grifo explains, claims that the Obama administration is behaving like the Bush administration did on science are absurd. However, the administration must do more to deliver on President Obama’s pledge to restore science to its “rightful place”—and move swiftly to address reports of scientific discontentment.

Francesca Grifo is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and an expert in biodiversity conservation, and heads up UCS’s Scientific Integrity Project. She has testified before Congress about scientific integrity and is widely quoted in the press on the topic. Prior to joining UCS, she was at Columbia University where she ran the Science Teachers Environmental Education Program.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/francesca_grifo_science_under_obama/

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Posted: 31 July 2010 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Bush had no respect for science and Obama has no respect for truth so our best hope is an incidental, meager and fragile gain. And the mote in your eye always looks larger than the beam in mine. I just keep wondering, if we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we do it again?

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Posted: 31 July 2010 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It bothered me in the Robert Price- Chis Mooney discussion of whether atheists “must” be liberals that (a) Mooney said in effect that the only thing Obama hasn’t done for science is solve global warming .

Mooney’s choice of someone from the Union of Concerned Scientists is odd—our expectation is that this person will be reflexively anti-Bush and pro-Obama and that the interview will be predictable.

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Posted: 01 August 2010 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Jackson - 31 July 2010 05:37 AM

It bothered me in the Robert Price- Chis Mooney discussion of whether atheists “must” be liberals that (a) Mooney said in effect that the only thing Obama hasn’t done for science is solve global warming .

Mooney’s choice of someone from the Union of Concerned Scientists is odd—our expectation is that this person will be reflexively anti-Bush and pro-Obama and that the interview will be predictable.

Really? Did you miss this part of the podcast description?

As Grifo explains, claims that the Obama administration is behaving like the Bush administration did on science are absurd. However, the administration must do more to deliver on President Obama’s pledge to restore science to its “rightful place”—and move swiftly to address reports of scientific discontentment.

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Posted: 05 August 2010 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I hesitate to post, but alas I must.  To me (meaning my opinion), the host exhibited a clear propensity to give the Obama administration a strong benefit of the doubt despite the evidence presented.  Leading questions were the norm, all but begging for the desired answer (i.e. Obama and his administration surely will break thousand of years of precedents, and not act like every other government in recorded history).

I understand the previous administration left a bad taste, but that is not a reason to lessen our mistrust for politicians who say one thing and do another. 

Finally, I’m not so much interested in comparisons to what was an egregious situation, and being content with marginal improvements.  At some point we must hold to a higher standard than was set by the Bush administration, and not just in matters of science, but (gasp!) across the board.

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Posted: 10 August 2010 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Francesca Grifo was, I think, too quick to say that PDUFA should simply be reversed.  To say that is to forget that it was passed for a reason—that the FDA was not devoting enough resources to drug approval processes and was delaying the introduction of drugs that could have been saving people’s lives.  PDUFA was put in place as a result of AIDS activists holding “die ins” to publicly embarass the FDA on the one hand, and working closely with drug research scientists, on the other, to develop new testing protocols, as described in Steven Epstein’s book _Impure Science_.

There is definitely some reform required, as the PDUFA regime makes people in the FDA too beholden to the drug company interests that are paying their salaries.  The current U.S. methods for surveillance and reporting of drug problems (FDA’s MedWatch) could also use improvement.

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Posted: 15 August 2010 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Am behind in these podcasts…

Chris Mooney refers to an article in the Los Angeles Times,  “Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier”, and seems to be interviewing Francesca Grifo to refute the article.  Which she doesn’t (from what I understood of the dialogue).

It would help, I think, to have a link to background material like this…

Michael De Dora is right—Grifo is objective and facts-oriented.  It is Mooney who comes across as persistently tugging at her to say the Obama administration is much better than the Bush administration.

How about comparing Obama to Clinton or Carter? 

A little more background/summary on what the crux of the science integrity issue that the two of them were discussing would have been helpful—Mooney lost his proper perspective as the voice of the listener here and started having his own conversation.

It really does come across that Mooney is framing the discussion to drum up political support for Democratic candidates and make political commentary.

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Posted: 15 August 2010 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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After hearing this podcast I felt compelled to dispel an oft repeated myth.  It is presented by most on the left that Bush ended a previous practice of funding embryonic stem cell research.  The fact is that no federal dollars had been spent on embryonic stem cell research before the Bush administration, and his executive order allowed it for the first time to occur on existing cell lines.  President Clinton signed the federal ban on creation of new embryos for research into law - a law that still stands.  The much ballyhooed Obama executive order was Bush 2.0 - only allowing federal funds to be used for research on existing embryos.  Additionally - Obama’s statement at signing: “We will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction,” he said. “It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.” is all about politics and none about science.  Politicians are what they are, and this schoolgirl crush many current scientists have on Obama is a sad thing to witness.

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