Over the past eight years, government censorship of science has ranged from silencing researchers to creating policies that interfered with the free exchange of scientific ideas.  Government censorship of science includes distortion and suppression of data, and threatens the public’s access to truthful and accurate information.

Though many examples of censorship and suppression have been revealed, it is likely in the coming months of transition that even more instances will come to light.  The following links are articles about some of these newly-revealed examples of how, through policy and practice, scientific information has been suppressed and distorted under the Bush Administration.

While I hope that the next Administration will be less likely to censor government scientists directly and to subvert information about key issues such as global warming, I do not believe that safeguards have been put in place to protect adequately the public’s access to accurate, scientific information.  It is likely, for example, that the military will continue to withhold data and medical studies, and that research and teaching about morally, ethically and/or religiously charged topics may be suppressed.  Additionally, the loosening of federal controls over the exchange and discovery of scientific data may lead to further restrictions on the state level.

For now, we’ll report on censorship as it comes to light and track efforts to change policy decisions like those reported below that undermine the integrity of science and the free-exchange of accurate information.

Recently reported examples of censorship by the government, by topic:

Endangered Species Act programs:

  • Agency officials in the Interior Department have interfered with scientific work to limit protections for species at risk of becoming extinct. Read a New York Times article here.
  • Changes were made to the Endangered Species Act that eliminated mandatory independent scientific review of the determination of threat to protected species and consideration of the effects of greenhouse gasses on protected species. Read a Truthout.org article here.

Approval of drugs and devices by the Food and Drug Administration:

  • Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration report that managers have required them to manipulate date in violation of the law. Read a New  York Times article here and a Wall Street Journal article here.

Censorship of medical studies by the Army:

  • The Army’s policy for reviewing medical reports/articles intended for publication may result in changes to or withholding of the reports. Read a Epinews article here.

Permitting moral objections to healthcare counseling and referrals:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ Final Rule “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law” which goes into effect on January 10, allows health care providers to refuse for moral or ethical reasons to provide referrals or counseling to patients who seek abortion or sterilization services.  Through this rule, the government obstructs patients’ access to medical information. Read the final rule here.  Read the proposed rule here.

Promotion of abstinence-only education by the Children, Family, and Youth Services Bureau:

  • Abstinence-only education promotes the withholding of accurate, scientific information about sexual health and sexuality from young adults.  Recently, the Bush Administration waived the annual application process for state abstinence-only education funds, offering states the opportunity to apply for five-year grants instead.  Read an article at RH Reality Check here.

NCAC Reports about censorship of science and access to scientific information:

  • Censoring Science: A Stem Cell Story
  • Political Science: A Report on Science and Censorship