Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas really does not understand science. Not scientific method, not scientific theories or laws, none of it. Which is why he submitted a bill draft titled the “High Quality Research Act” which would in effect add a politician into scientific studies.
The bill says that any research done using federal funds (which is the majority of research done in the United States) must have its results and finding approved by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives. If the findings are not agreed to, the research is taken from the researchers and disposed of by Congress as it sees fit.
Congressman Smith has already landed himself in scientific hot water over his April 25th Letter to the National Science Foundation where he demanded that the NSF conduct an investigaton into five research programs which contradict policies his donors want passed. This is what was expected when the noted anti-science Texan was appointed to the Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
In response to Congressman Smith’s letter to the NSF, fellow committee member, and fellow Texan, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, had this to say according to the LA Times:
Politicians, even a distinguished chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, cannot be ‘peers’ in any meaningful sense.
Peer in this case referring to the peer review methodology employed by scientists to ensure that their papers are concise, clear, and accurate.
In response to the criticism, Congressman Smith issued his own statement in which he defended the bill by saying:
The draft bill maintains the current peer review process and improves on it by adding a layer of accountability. The intent of the draft legislation is to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on the highest-quality research possible.
One must ask, how does making peer review accountable to politicians an “improvement?” The scientific method has proven itself over centuries. This “improvement” is nothing but a way to attempt and strong arm scientists into pushing political agendas, typically those held by whomever donates the most money to a politician during the campaign.
Congressman Lamar Smith is a leading example as to the disconnect within the Republican Party and reality. His “improvement” would compromise scientific research, and dismantle what little America has left for integrity. Despite how many other industries have fallen apart across the United States, we as a nation remain the gold standard of scientific research. It appears Lamar Smith will not rest until that too joins our other areas of once excellence, and we surrender to our national collapse.
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
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