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.
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.