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Here’s a theory: leave the scientists alone

Jessica Clark

From the Center for American Progress: The New York Times reports more details on the politicization of science by White House appointees at NASA's public affairs office. In one case, the Times reports, a 24-year-old presidential appointee named George Deutsch "told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word 'theory' after every mention of the Big Bang." The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator." Deutch appears to have no scientific experience: his résumé "says he was an intern in the 'war room' of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign" and a 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M. Deutch is the same public-affairs officer who warned NASA's top climatologist of "dire consequences" if he spoke out about global climate change. On a positive note, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Saturday "issued a sharply worded statement" stating that it is "not the job of public-affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).
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