Letters | GOP targets scientific study

The congressional method: When data threaten profits, attack data

I was glad to see the Globe covering Republican leaders like Lamar Smith of Texas trying to critique 20-year-old experiments that confirm the link between air pollution and health problems (“House GOP demands Harvard study data,” Page A1, Sept. 7). This is part of a wider conservative strategy of undermining scientific studies when their conclusions threaten corporate profits.

Legitimate scientists use the scientific method to ensure that their results can be tested by other scientists. The peer-review process ensures that the results will be vetted by other competent scientists who are knowledgeable in the same field. This process produces valid, trustworthy knowledge that is accepted by doctors, engineers, and anyone who uses scientific information.


They don’t go nitpicking the researchers’ work, so why should the GOP?

Because Republicans use what I’ll call the congressional method.

Get Arguable with Jeff Jacoby in your inbox:
Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

This method takes scientific conclusions that are harmful to profits, then launches pseudoscientific inquiries designed to tarnish public acceptance of these conclusions.

Other recent examples of established knowledge under attack by the congressional method include the link between smoking and lung cancer and harmful effects of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer.

Practitioners of this method aren’t afraid to veer into bizarre behavior, such as when Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, sponsored Senate testimony by sci-fi writer Michael Crichton, who argued against the findings of climate scientists.

Jack Thorndike

Jamaica Plain

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com