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Canada Censorship Government Science

Canadian Scientists Protest Political Sandbagging of Evidence-Based Policy 216

New submitter sandbagger writes "Stephen Harper and the Canadian government have made headlines several times for stifling opinions that dissent with their own. This also applies to respected, peer-reviewed science. Canadian scientists have chafed at being gagged and having evidence take a back seat when forming policy, so they're grabbing their slide rules and marching in protest. 'Hundreds of participants gathered in 17 cities for rallies on Monday. In Toronto some donned lab coats while in Vancouver protesters were seen wearing gags adorned with the Conservative Party logo – a reference to the alleged muzzling of federal scientists by political overseers. ... Dr. Gibbs and colleagues said they hoped the rallies would alert the public to scientists’ concerns that the federal government has shifted funding markedly toward commercially driven research at the expense of public-interest science. ... Dr. Gibbs said her group would consult with the Canadian research community and look to other countries in trying to craft recommended policies for science in government. In recent years explicit scientific integrity rules have been adopted by many U.S. federal departments and agencies, after accusations of censorship and politicization of science during the administration of former president George W. Bush. 'Canadian scientists are where American scientists were maybe a decade ago,' said Michael Halpern, a Washington, D.C.-based program manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists. 'They're trying to figure out how to protect themselves from a government that’s increasingly focused on message control over a more open discussion of the facts.'"
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Canadian Scientists Protest Political Sandbagging of Evidence-Based Policy

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  • Gov't? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @07:27PM (#44879107) Journal
    Don't they have corporations in Canadia to tell the scientists how the studies should turn out?
  • > Canadian Government Muzzling Scientists
    > Canadian scientists protest Tory's sandbagging of evidence-based policy

  • Stephen Harper and the Harper government...

    He demanded it, and it should be used in all articles, not just positive ones.
  • Couldn't they just solve this problem with some sort of "laser"?
  • So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rs79 ( 71822 ) <> on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @07:42PM (#44879215) Homepage

    what is this muzzled science? Why isn't that obvious let alone seemingly never mentioned.

    getting the word out in this day and age isn't exactly the problem it was 20 years ago.

    god knows I'm not sticking up for that cretin harper, but seriously, what's the deal?

    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @08:23PM (#44879495) Homepage

      what is this muzzled science?

      So, imagine you have a lot of government scientists who do research in various fields.

      Now imagine that the government has told them they can't attend conferences and discuss their research without a government minder being present to be sure what the scientists say is 'on message'.

      And now imagine that being 'on message' is ideologically driven, and often divorced from evidence and facts -- but purely based on the beliefs of the government.

      Basically they've told the scientists to STFU, and stop telling people things which contradict with what they're saying or risk being censured.

      • See, for example "Nix V. Hedden" (1893 wherein the US government declared tomatoes to be a vegetable, for the convenience of collecting taxes, even though those pesky scientists said it was a fruit.)
        • by rs79 ( 71822 )

          when you put it in a fruit salad, call me.

          if this example from 1983 is the best you can do.... it's weak.

          kudos for being the only non-anon reply (at least so far) though. wtf is up with that?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rs79 ( 71822 )

        This sounds rather nebulous. That is, it's possible to interpret what you've said as either a bug or a feature.

        Given the recent IPCC leak, if this is about the failed co2 hypothesis and nothing more, then they deserve it.

        If they're pointing out pollution is bad and getting way worse, then they're in the right. But if this is the case, this is actionable.

        The fact they're keeping quiet in all their PR about what these issues are tells me they're hiding something. And this is not the first time they've made no

    • The deal is simple.

      In the medieval ages, the Church seized power. Religion was the major power holder, and all world leaders were beholden to the Church. As such, the Church had a huge amount of control over all the world.

      There has been a huge movement to either debase the public's acceptance of religion or to showcase political figures as religious crusaders, either of which moves the public's accepted authority to these political figures. It is commonly held in America that the left mocks people f

  • Gone (Score:4, Informative)

    by Smiddi ( 1241326 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @07:44PM (#44879219)
    Here in Australia the Minister for science role has been scraped, effectively removing scientific opinion from the decision making process.
    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Here in Australia the Minister for science role has been scraped, effectively removing scientific opinion from the decision making process.

      Sorry, it is called... ummm... "budget consciousness" (already took the decision to scrap the carbon tax, why would they need to hear other opinions?)

    • Wrong. Much as I dislike Abbott, the title Minister for Industry also covers Science, though there is a bit of confusion: []
      • Re:Gone (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:18PM (#44880199)

        Wrong. Much as I dislike Abbott, the title Minister for Industry also covers Science

        Does that mean science takes a back seat to industry profit, just like in the U.S.? You know, stuff like letting food and drug manufacturers "self regulate" or exempting fracking from environmental laws.

        • You do know that according to the vast majority of reputable scientists both of those items are extermely safe and self-regulation has work.
      • Re:Gone (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FirephoxRising ( 2033058 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:23PM (#44880231)
        Yes but that's not good either, we need a dedicated Science minister, not an appendix to industry.
      • by ras ( 84108 )

        Quite true. The Minister for Industry is in charge of Science, and in particular the CSIRO. Which is how we end up with the minister in charge of CSIRO having no mention of educational attainments on his Wikipedia Page [] (does he have any?), and is climate skeptic [].

    • No, there is no "Minister for Science" but there wasn't under the previous mob either... "Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research." The new mob have the wholly expected stance on science; science that does not turn a short-term profit for "Industry" is not science worth having. So, science for educational purposes, pure science research, environmental science, any climate change related science, etc. don't get special (any) attention.

  • Mostly because they use the NSA spy program to identify the ACs and send the mounties to snowboard them.

    (caveat - they don't waterboard except in summer)

  • Harper has proven himself an ignorant, unworthy, corporate-serving and ego-driven jackass. Too bad he can't be thrown out of the PMO via non-confidence in the same way his party rose to power.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      Sadly the non-Harper vote will probably be even more split and Harper will get another majority with 30% of the vote next time. He'll call that an overwhelming mandate and continue on.

  • I would hope that the state of Canadian Science isn't still relying on Slide Rules. I learned with a slide rule but a good old calculator or crap, a cell phone these days with the right app kicks butt over a Slide Rule.

    • Well, those slide rules are actually why these 'scientists' should be silenced, because next thing we know, they will be using astrolabes, tarrot cards, reading palms and consulting oracles to predict the future. The Canadian politicians are just too polite to come right out and say it.
  • Keep in mind ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @09:38PM (#44879967)

    One thing to keep in mind is that government scientists are pretty much in the same position as scientists who work in industry: they are there to serve the interests of their employer.

    In the case of government scientists, their role is to conduct research that relates to policy or to support the civil service. For example: environmental scientists may be conducting research into acceptable harvest levels for fisheries or how to manage land in a flood plain. It is unfortunate when a government distorts that research to support their policies rather than using the research to inform policy, but that shouldn't be unexpected.

    More concerning is the cutbacks to academic research, which has been more independent in the past. Academic scientists have not, traditionally, been tied to the interests of government so they have had much more leeway to express their results independent of external pressure.

    • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @09:59PM (#44880101)

      Their research is there to support the Canadian people that pay their salaries. It should be used for the people, not against them.

    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      One thing to keep in mind is that government scientists are pretty much in the same position as scientists who work in industry: they are there to serve the interests of their employer.

      No. The thing to keep in mind is that this is a tautology to pretend that grant-funded research and out-come funded research are equal.

      • Re:Keep in mind ... (Score:4, Informative)

        by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:35PM (#44880293)

        The scientists being muzzled are employees of various departments of the federal government. While several departments of the federal government give grants for scientific research, the scientists who receive those grants may be employed by other bodies. One example are universities. Universities are heavily funded by the government, but they are managed independently of the government. In that case, the scientists are not in the employment of the government so they are not under the same degree of control. (Of course the government can refuse to provide further grants to that scientist, but that is the limit of their control.)

        At any rate, the whole point of my original post was that grant-funded research is not equivalent to outcome funded research.

  • I wish critical thinking were taught in schools, with a special emphasis on finding logical fallacies in things politicians say.

    I wish more people understood why we have so few choices in elections [].

    And I wish the Union of Concerned Scientists [] had a political party arm so I could vote for them.

  • This is exactly what we need in the US. Unless and until they stand up to these corporate/government censors, public opinion will continue to be lead by whomever has the most cash.
  • by Rollgunner ( 630808 ) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:56AM (#44881155)
    "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science." - Carl Sagan

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!