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Bad Science, Part Two

4-26-2018 - Ken McAuliffe

Real science is publicly available and reproducible, this is how we know it is real, but government, especially the EPA has been relying on studies that have no publicly available data.

The EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has come under fire from Democrats and the Press for a new rule that requires science used for rule making be open and have publicly available data to back it’s findings. The Washington Post, owned by Jeff who also owns Amazon and is a vocal critic of Donald Trump and his Administration took a critical slant against Pruitt and the new rule.

The Washington Post story begins,

“In the annals of science there aren’t many reports that had as much impact as Harvard’s Six Cities Study of 1993. It showed a dramatic association between long-term exposure to air pollution and higher risk of an early death. It influenced government pollution standards that research shows have saved thousands of lives.”

How can you argue with that, it’s so definitive.

They go on,

“But the Six Cities Study, as well as many other scientific research papers, could be deemed unreliable and discarded by the Trump administration under a proposal announced Tuesday by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.”

Damn that Trump Administration, ruining the Earth! BUT, WAIT!

As we reported yesterday in How Bad Is The Science The Government Uses almost 50% of studies can’t be reproduced by peer reviews or the data is never disclosed so it can’t be reviewed or reproduced.

EPA Director Scott Pruitt, who as attorney general in Oklahoma often battled the EPA before being appointed its leader by Donald Trump. Who better to run this organization than someone who has had to fight with them for years.

Pruitt enacted a new rule that would limit the kind of scientific research used by the agency when crafting regulations. Research would have to have its underlying data made public or independently reproduced. This was exactly the point in our story yesterday, made by Mr. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, director of research and a co-author of its new report, “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science.”

Real science is publicly available and reproducible, this is how we know it is real, but government, especially the EPA has been relying on studies that have no publicly available data.

Because of that Scott Pruitt said “If you don’t publish the data - you only publish the conclusions. … That’s simply wrongheaded,”.

The Washington Post goes on, “Such a rule could potentially affect any study relying on confidential health records and clinical data. The Six Cities Study and a follow-up 1995 report using confidential data from the American Cancer Society are prime examples.”

That argument is what junk science looks like. Rep. Lamar Smith (Republican - Texas) praised the new rule as a way of “putting a stop to hidden agendas.” Smith is correct, without open science and government there is no way to know if our government is telling us the truth or pursuing an agenda.

The Post tells us, “Leaders of the scientific community expressed outrage, saying that such a restriction, which must go through a 30-day comment period and will probably face legal challenges, would suppress solid science.”

They cite Douglas Dockery, a Harvard University research scientist, who was the lead author of “Six Cities Study” and is said to have seen it through an exacting peer-review process.

They say the results were so stark and surprising that he and his collaborators embarked on the second, larger study, using the American Cancer Society data, to make sure the first one was right.

An Example of their conclusions:

Fine particulates, so tiny that they can penetrate deep into the lungs, contribute to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, Dockery said in an interview this week. People living in Steubenville, Ohio with the dirtiest air, lost roughly two years of life because of their exposure to air pollution, compared with people in Portage, Wisconsin, Dockery said.

What they didn’t look at was quality of life in both cities, or any of those cities. Air quality may have had a toll but studying farmers who breath fine earth particles doing their work could have been a good control but it’s not there.

Then they say, “Almost all of us believe that open, transparent, peer-reviewed, reproducible science is what we want. On the other hand, all of us want to meet the [legal] requirements and privacy and confidentiality ethics that are required to do some of this research.”

Bingo! It’s not allowed to reveal the data because of privacy. This seems like it makes sense but if you dig into anything that involves the government that’s where you end up. It’s a privacy issue.

You may not know that because of privacy. Everything our government does should be public, open, freely available, but it’s not. Virtually everything has become a privacy issue.

Two years ago, we asked about subsidies for Obama Care health insurance policies and was told it private data. Last month we asked for the names of the contractors who spent 100 million dollars to build a failed MNLARS system, you guessed it, it’s a privacy issue. It’s always a privacy issue when money is badly spent.

That’s the problem with science that does not have public data, you can’t know if it good science.

Scott Pruitt’s actions follow a legislative effort of Rep. Lamar Smith (Republican - Texas) and other conservative members of Congress known as the Honest Act. Pruitt’s rule is called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science”. The idea is to have the data, science is based on, public.

If it’s not open and publicly available it could be made up junk.

But the Post reports, “These are anxious times for many scientists who are concerned about a federal government headed by a president and political appointees who have expressed doubt about the consensus on climate change and other issues.”

And in one line we see the core of this issue, “Climate Change”, apparently if you don’t believe in man caused climate change, you are a hieratic, a non-believer, not to be trusted.

So much of the EPA science is built on this premise, arriving at a conclusion then building a scientific study to support it while keeping the data secret.

On the fourth of April the Daily Caller had a story on this issue that ended this way…

“Pruitt’s critics argue there’s no way for researchers to meet transparency requirements without breaching confidentiality, but conservatives have pointed out such mechanisms already exist.”

“This sort of data is already routinely made public for research use,” JunkScience.com publisher Steve Milloy wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.”

“In 2012 I was desperate for a way around the Obama EPA’s secrecy on the PM2.5 issue, I found out in 2012 that I could get California death-certificate data in electronic form,” wrote Milloy, a longtime opponent of EPA’s “secret science.” “The state’s Health Department calls this sort of data ‘Death Public Use Files.’ They are scrubbed of all personal identifying and private medical information. Some of my colleagues used this data to prepare a 2017 study, which found PM2.5 was not associated with death.”

“The best part is that if you don’t believe the result, you can get the same data for yourself from California and run your own analysis. Then we’ll compare, contrast and debate. That’s how science is supposed to work,” Milloy wrote.”

The EPA, the DOJ, the VA and the Main Stream Press are the bulwark of Progressive politics in today’s Washington DC, it's easy to understand the backlash of Bureaucratic Washington also known as the Deep State, or as James Comey called it yesterday, “The Deep Culture”



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