You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

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.

Continue reading below

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.

Jack Thorndike

Jamaica Plain

Loading comments...
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
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.