Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Muzzling of a Scientist, Revisited

Robert H Fakudiny, Ph.D. state geoligist emeritus and former chief of the New York State Geological Survey, has come to the defense of Taury Smith in an today in Albany's Times Union. I have commented on the plight of Mr. Smith here, noting that the biggest sin of Mr. Smith was not questioning the safety of hydraulic fracturing, per se, but questioning the liberal orthodoxy of the day. In so doing he has found himself on the wrong side of the debate and as a consequence had his professional integrity called into question.

Dr. Fakudiny provides a vigorous defense of both Mr. Smith and the merits of vigorous scientific debate. Of course, everyone has a right to freedom of speech based on 1st Amendment protections, but the importance of scientific discourse goes back much farther than the U.S. Constitution. Based on Scientific Method, which is non-negotionable, regardless of political ideology.
The alleged attack on Smith appears to be in response to his comments that reveal in scientific terms the fallacy in many arguments against the practice. His facts run counter to some environmental groups' opinion that gas drilling in New York should be stopped.

Their convictions, although sincere, seem to be based on incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information provided largely by the media and "informational" film presentations. Smith has explained in question and answer sessions the scientific facts that enable the listener to put the arguments into perspective.

I have attended such sessions and can say that Smith advocates neither for nor against hydrofracking. In acknowledging the validity of some concerns, he provides balanced information based on professional experience.

His muzzling prevents the dissemination of such information, inhibiting the ability of policymakers to reach wise decisions. It also calls into question the Education Department's motive.

The Office of the State Geologist has a 175-year reputation of balanced and impartial advisory services to the public, industry and regulatory agencies. Muzzling the state geologist thwarts the purpose of that office.

It also implies that the department could muzzle other scientists within its jurisdiction. Perhaps the Office of the State Geologist and the other science offices should be placed in a supportive, unbiased environment.

Who knew that when President Obama was elected, science would take a back seat to politics. They told me if I voted for McCain, science would become and impediment to political progress.....Oh, never mind!

Please bookmark!

No comments:

Post a Comment