BRITISH journalist George Monbiot of the Guardian recently lamented the rise of government science advisers who seem to be co-opted by politicians.
"Among the official duties of the chief scientist is 'to ensure that the scientific method, risk and uncertainty are understood by the public'," Monbiot wrote.
"Less than a month into the job, Sir Mark Walport has misinformed the public about the scientific method, risk and uncertainty.
"He has made groundless, unscientific and emotionally manipulative claims.
"He has indulged in scaremongering and wild exaggeration in support of the government's position."
Why, if I did not know better, I would say that Monbiot was referring to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that received a Nobel Peace Prize but was so riddled with error that the report should be discarded.
For the last time, the Himalayan mountains will not — repeat not — be ice-free in 2035.
But Monbiot is a true believer in global cooling or global warming or climate change. Those government studies apparently are on the up-and-up to him.
His complaint is that Walport "indulged in scaremongering and wild exaggeration" to support the continued manufacture of pesticides.
Monbiot is fine with those who have "indulged in scaremongering and wild exaggeration" about the weather to push for broader government control of industry, and of course, higher taxes.
The doubt that Monbiot cast about government science was expressed more than a half-century ago by President Eisenhower in his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961.
The speech is usually noted for popularizing the phrase "military-industrial complex," but Eisenhower also warned about government's control of science.
"Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields," Eisenhower said.
"In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.
"Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.