The AAAS on Cuccinelli Probe: Scientific Disagreement and Controversy Do Not Imply Fraud (Duh)

By Chris Mooney | May 19, 2010 7:15 am

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is now the latest organization to instruct Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli in how science works. In particular, I liked this aspect of the AAAS board statement:

Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations simply for providing scientific results that may be controversial or inconvenient, particularly on high profile topics of interest to society. The way to resolve controversies of this nature is through scientific review and additional research.

In the majority of cases, scientific disagreements are unrelated to any kind of fraud and are considered a legitimate and normal part of the process of scientific progress. The scientific community takes seriously their responsibility for policing scientific misconduct, and extensive procedures exist to ensure the credibility of the research enterprise. Unless founded on some openly discussed evidence of potential misconduct, investigations such as that targeting Professor Mann could have a long-lasting and chilling effect on a broad spectrum of research fields that are critical to a range of national interests from public health to national security to the environment. Unless more clearly justified, Attorney General Cuccinelli’s apparently political action should be withdrawn.

That’s right–the AAAS just called Cuccinelli’s investigation “political.” It is, of course–but them’s fighting words from the leading U.S. scientific society.

But of course, sometimes fighting is really, really necessary. This is one of those times.

Comments (2)

Links to this Post

  1. Episode 3: show notes — Irregular Climate | June 13, 2010
  1. Elena Strange

    Yeah, AAAS is right on with this one. I’m glad they’re calling Cuccinelli out a bit.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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