The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) — which famously declared in 1998 that the threat of nuclear weapons in North Korea was exaggerated and, in 1980, that “the world has entered a period of chronic energy shortages” — is now decrying the Bush Administration’s “abuse of science.” More than 100 media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today have already parroted UCS’s complaints that “the administration is distorting and censoring scientific findings that contradict its policies; manipulating the underlying science to align results with predetermined political decisions.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The “scientists” at UCS are notorious for putting their political cart before the scientific horse.
A radical green wolf in sheep’s clothing, UCS tries to distinguish itself from the Greenpeaces of the world by convincing the media that its recommendations reflect a consensus among the scientific community. Here’s how it works: UCS conducts an opinion poll of scientists or organizes a petition that scientists sign. Then they act as if the results prove that science has spoken. For example: In 1986, UCS asked 549 of the American Physical Society’s 37,000 members if Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was “a step in the wrong direction for America’s national security policy.” Although only 54 percent of an already tiny sample disapproved of SDI, UCS declared that the poll proved “profound and pervasive skepticism toward SDI in the scientific community.”
This time UCS has rounded up a grand total of 60 scientists to back up its accusations. Despite this relatively puny number, UCS declares that the Bush Administration’s “activities are of grave concern to members of the scientific community.”
On issue after issue, UCS insists, the White House fails to embrace the “consensus” of scientists — and that automatically means it has “politicized” science. But UCS itself frequently opposes the scientific consensus. For example, the group does everything it can to scare the public about a whole host of imagined environmental problems associated with genetically enhanced food. But every authoritative regulatory agency, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization, declares that these biotech food crops are perfectly safe.
UCS routinely abuses and politicizes science. Its crusade against farm animals receiving antibiotics presents guesswork as scientifically rigorous analysis, and intentionally scares the public about risks it admits are groundless. UCS helped initiate the vicious attacks on Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg, only to be repudiated by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology, and Industry. Last year, the group dressed up its “strong opposition to the US invasion of Iraq” as an exercise in science.