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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Trying to Control Scientific Opinion

June 30, 2004

Re "White House Tries to Rein In Scientists," June 26: The outrageous hubris of the current administration continues to stun me. Tony Jewell, spokesman for Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, states: "No one knows better than HHS who the experts are.... The World Health Organization does not know the best people to talk to, but HHS knows."

We knew best about weapons of mass destruction, about going it alone in Iraq and about how to manage the ensuing chaos. Now we know best about how to manage scientific discourse?

I feel so secure knowing that our leaders infallibly know what is best.

Jeffrey DeVore

Fullerton

*

I can understand political differences of opinions, even when the facts are clear.

I can't at all understand the attempt to control scientific opinion, which is clearly implicated by the Health and Human Services Department's request to the World Health Organization to route all requests for participation at scientific meetings through it. Invitations by the WHO have always gone to individual scientists.

Obviously, this administration is not going to tolerate expert scientific opinion when it conflicts with its other aims, such as its stubborn refusal to acknowledge the contribution of carbon dioxide to global warming.

I am reminded of Galileo when he was forced to recant concerning whether the Earth was stationary. As he arose after his recantation, tradition says that he whispered, "Still it moves."

Ralph Mitchell

Monterey Park

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