Silence of the science


A couple of articles have come out recently that I absolutely felt the need to share- anyone reading this blog has probably already seen them, but I figured I’d better highlight them just in case.

The first is a series of articles coming out of the Huffington Post, collectively called “stifling science” by Melissa Mancini. It’s very well-researched and hits all the major points on the issues.

The central page is not that simple to navigate to find parts 1-4, so I’ve summarized them here:

Part 1: A Cry for science in Canada

Part 2: How science stopped at the top of the world

Part 3: How Tories control the science message

Part 4: Science Cuts: Ottawa Views Pure Science As ‘Cash Cow,’ Critics Say

One line in part 3 really caught my eye:

“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans put out 128 news releases in 2012, compared with 243 in 2005, a decrease of 47 per cent.”

Pretty brutal. To be fair, perhaps we should know what the stats are in the intervening years and whether 2005 is consistent with previous years under the Liberal government- however, the consistency with the patterns between DFO and the other three science-based departments suggests this is not some artefact of a difference between two randomly selected years; rather, it would appear that access to federal scientists has become more restrictive under the current ruling party.

The second is an article by Jonathon Gatehouse in Maclean’s magazine, entitled “When science goes silent“. I particularly liked the following passage:

“To call the current environment ‘dysfunctional’ would not be overstating things,” one federal scientist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, told Maclean’s. “Your bosses are only ever following marching orders, so people are made to feel that there’s no use in complaining because we are so far away from the level at which decisions are made that there’s no hope our concerns will ever make it anywhere.”

Okay, that’s not (by far) the best quote in the piece, but let’s just say I’m partial to it.

The article is very comprehensive, and very much worth the read.

It would seem that Suzanne Legault will have her hands full over the next few months; I look very much forward to her findings.