Friday, August 10, 2007

FTCR: Secrecy Supports Anti-Science Crowd

Does openness on research grant reviews mean bad science? Does cloaking the identities of massive public institutions serve a public purpose?

Earlier today we asked John M. Simpson , longtime CIRM watcher for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, for his thoughts on the secrecy policies at CIRM(see item below). Here is what he had to say.

"CIRM's penchant for secrecy makes no sense. People who want public money should have to explain how they will use it in public.

"This is not complex. Other states, like Connecticut, have figured out how to do it.

"The argument is that scientists won't apply for grants out of fear that their applications might be rejected. Frankly, all the scientists I know have thicker skins than that. Their egos aren't fragile. In fact a number of junior scientists have said they'd like to see some sun shine into the secrecy-shrouded peer review process.

"But let's set the the question of the individuals' identity aside for a moment. There is absolutely no ground for a refusal to identify the institutions which have applications under consideration.

"The only thing I can figure is that the current scientific culture is elitist and subscribes to the view that the public can't be trusted to make good judgments. Ironically, in the end that's an approach which leads to the know-nothing, anti-science attitude of the current federal administration.

"I want to support science and scientists, but when you insist upon retreating behind closed doors you do not make it easy for me or for yourselves. Engage the public; explain what you do and why. Do it in public. You'll be surprised and pleased at the support you get."
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