Just days after the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a damning report of the Bush Administration’s disdain for scientific advice in policymaking (see Feb 19 entry), Bush ejects two scientists from the Bioethics Council and replaces them with three anti-biotechnology advocates.
There’s an insightful discussion of the motivations for this at TechCentralStation. As pointed out there, the BioTechnology Council was created by Bush specifically to provide a range of opinions related to the ethics of biotechnological development:
The Council shall strive to develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of the issues that it considers. In pursuit of this goal, the Council shall be guided by the need to articulate fully the complex and often competing moral positions on any given issue, rather than by an overriding concern to find consensus. The Council may therefore choose to proceed by offering a variety of views on a particular issue, rather than attempt to reach a single consensus position.
What’s the point of creating a council to deliver a range of opinions when you deliberately stack it with people all of whom share the same opinion? But as Phil Bowermaster points out:
When making policy on matters as important as stem cell research it’s crucial for the President to hear all viewpoints — unless he’s already made up his mind. That’s the problem here. Bush has made up his mind and isn’t interested in hearing opposing views anymore.
Click those Ruby slippers again, George.