Date: 24/03/2017
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Concern for Scientific Integrity at The National Academy of Sciences

H. Sterling Burnett writes:

In a letter to members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, raises concerns over the fact NAS’s sole candidate for the presidency of the organization is Marcia McNutt, current editor-in-chief of the journal Science, who has shown herself to be intolerant of dissenting scientific points of view on issues with regulatory importance. Wood notes McNutt has played a significant role in three active controversies involving national regulatory policy including the active promotion of “the consensus model of climate change and exclu[sion of] any contrary views.” As Wood states:

… at some point the scientific community will have to reckon with the dramatic discrepancies between current climate models and substantial parts of the empirical record.

One can be a strong supporter of the consensus model and yet be disturbed by the role which Science has played in this controversy. Dr. McNutt and the journal have acted more like partisan activists than like responsible stewards of scientific standards confronted with contentious claims and ambiguous evidence.

Dr. McNutt has in her career found herself faced more than once with the challenge of what to do when an entrenched orthodoxy meets a substantial scientific challenge. The challenge in each case could itself prove to be mistaken, but it met what most scientists would concede to be the threshold criteria to deserve a serious hearing. Yet in each case Dr. McNutt chose to reinforce the orthodoxy by shutting the door on the challenge.

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