Editor’s Log: Scientific Integrity? - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Scientific Integrity?

John Stossel is a political pundit, journalist, author, and television host who is probably best known for his work at ABC News and Fox Business Network.  An avowed libertarian (read: neither democrat nor republican) Stossel began his journalism career as researcher and consumer reporter, receiving 19 Emmy Awards and five awards from the National Press Club during his rather distinguished career.

On August 24th, Stossel penned a nationally syndicated piece titled by most publications that picked up his column as Scientific Integrity.  I felt compelled to share some of it here since I’ve covered the subject matter quite a bit here in The Fisherman over the years – and because it made me laugh.  Not exactly one of those belly-busting guffaws, but more like a nervous, “crying on the inside,” uncomfortable chortle that raises the bile from my gut to the back of my throat.

“Trust the science,” say the media, writes Stossel, adding “Polls show that fewer Americans do. There’s good reason for that.”  According to stats shared in his column, 64% of democrats have “a great deal” of confidence in the scientific community, compared to 34% of republicans.  So is science a partisan issue?  Or is it “trust” in science that draws a line between left and right?  Perhaps the answer is more of a “trust” in government.

“Of course, true science — using the scientific method — is important,” Stossel notes, adding “But that’s not what much of ‘science’ is these days.”

The case in point he used was the knee-slapper – environmental activists want to limit fishing, and they’re calling on Congress to pass what they call the “Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act.”  The legislation calls climate change the “greatest threat to America’s national security,” and offers as a solution to tackling climate change the concept of shutting down more of the ocean to fishing access.

“The administration’s deputy director of Climate, Jane Lubchenco, told Congress that a scientific paper concludes that closing more of the ocean can actually increase catches of fish,” Stossel noted in his national column, adding “Really? That doesn’t seem logical.”

And then the scientific paper was retracted by the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) with one scientist calling the logic contained in the paper “biologically impossible.”  You see, what Dr. Lubchenco didn’t tell Congress was that the paper in question was written by her brother-in-law, edited personally by her, and personally handled by the good doctor on behalf of PNAS.  The national peer-review organization ultimately was forced to disavow the paper because Dr. Lubchenco violated the PNAS ethical code of conduct.

Read more in my July, 2022 editor’s log titled “One Step Up, Two Steps Back.”

“Did the White House punish Lubchenco for her ethics violations,” Stossel asked.  “No. In fact, after her testimony, she was appointed co-head of President Joe Biden’s Scientific Integrity Task Force.”  And then after PNAS announced that Dr. Lubchenco was being banned from that organization for 5 years, she remains in place on the White House’s Scientific Integrity Task Force.

Think about that for a moment – the head of scientific integrity at the White House was just sanctioned by fellow scientists for failing to maintain basic scientific integrity in the field.  As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

As a side note, on September 15 NOAA Fisheries announced an extension of the comment period (30 more days) until October 31 for a proposed rule to modify North Atlantic right whale vessel speed regulations for boats 35 feet and up. Those interested in providing public comment can visit the Federal Register Notice website.

Much like federal efforts to create a Hudson Canyon Marine Sanctuary or banning lead fishing tackle at National Parks, I’m not so sure I personally trust our government’s “scientific integrity” in this speed restriction thing either.

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