“Despite Obama’s Words, Scientific Integrity Rules Are Lagging”

Dan Froomkin has a frightening editorial at Huffington Post.

The liberal columnist is angry that Obama has not overturned the Bush dera od repression of science.  Unfortunately, Froomkin’s answer comes out as Orwellian Newspeak:

Integrity  = Compliance.

Froomkin complains Obama has not created laws that “assure” integrity by preventing academics from working for industry or incentivize whistle blowers by violating the American right to know your accuser, set aside theght to counsel, and act under a presumption of guilty until proven innocent.

The case of Andrew Aprikyan at the UW, is a good example of how the intentions of the Froomkins can be misused by oppressive bureaucrats.

Scientists need a Bill of Rights!

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  1. John Sahr #

    Without wishing to comment on the Aprikyan case directly, please recall that Miranda has a distinctly different application.

    First, Miranda addresses criminal issues. The Aprikyan case (as far as I can tell) is mostly “professional,” and barely rises to the level of “civil”; there seems to be no question of criminality.

    Second, Miranda reminds (more or less) that you actually have a right to remain silent (cannot be forced to self-incriminate), and have a right to an attorney, who will be supplied to you if need be.

    You can waive your rights *after* being given the Miranda Warning, not before.


    The appeal to Miranda is understandable, but it is lesser than a more fundamental appeal to “fairness.”

    Here again, the notion of “fair” must be defined.

    In my opinion, one of the most spectacular failures of defining “fairness” was the acceptance by the Supreme Court of the Bush v. Gore case in 2000. The notion that Bush might have been unfairly denied the presidency is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the idea that the Nation might have been denied the president that it preferred.


    In the case of Aprikyan, and *many* others, how shall we define “fair”?

    How many professors reading this note, are completely confident in their assignment of grades? In what sense is a 3.2 “fair” if a broader understanding has us understand that any grade between 2.8 and 3.5 would have been justifiable? Is it fair to give a 3.9 to someone who, with a 4.0, would otherwise be the valedictorian? Is it fair to give a 3.4 to someone who, receiving a 3.5, would get their financial aid? Is it fair to give a 3.8 to someone whom you know to be very smart, but lazy, and a 3.3 to someone who is not so smart, but dedicated and thorough.

    What if you’d rather fly in a plane designed by that 3.3 student, than that 3.7 student? What if you’d prefer your child to fly in a plane designed by that 3.3 student, than that 3.7 student?

    Where does the fairness lay?

  2. Charles Tuna #

    Isn’t there something sad about University faculty even discussing “Miranda?”

    Why should these state employees have any rights other state employees do not have?

  3. LEGO #

    I agree with Tuna. This sounds like the administration of the UW is doing what we want them to do … making sure that faculty do not misuse state facilities.

    The private world is even more oppressive. If I want to fire somebody, I pretty much can do that for any reason that is not overt discrimination. Why should President Emmert work with someone he feels is hard to get along with? If the CEO of the University, Provost Wise, suspect scientific fraud, how is she supposed to investigate that if Dr. Aprikyan claims to have some special right to privacy because he is “faculty?”

  4. BioBuddhist #

    I found the Froomkin article to be informative not scary. It makes the obvious point that the Obasma Admin is dragging its feet. There is a need for transparency and more effort so that whistle blowers feel safe when they expose people in government not following scientific principles, eg, using political calculations to make decisions rather than evidence-based decision making. We had enough of that crap under Bush, so I’m disappointed in Obama.
    I don’t have any trouble with being held accountable and showing the public how people in my lab and I operate. I respect the Union of Concerned Scientists and their proposed guidelines to the OSTP make sense to me. I do agree that there is a need for a stronger process to be in place that protects scientists. Due process should not tossed out just because one is working at a university. Any idea that Acting President Wise can provide leadership in this area is preposterous given her unsavory ties to Nike. She certainly cannot lead by example.

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