Bioethics, ethics for sale, politics, public policy, research ethics, research finance

Science in Obama’s Administration

After lots of ‘Net speculation on science and medicine advisory councils and committees in addition to mine of this morning, we find out that the Obama leader for the transition team on the President’s Council on Bioethics Review Team will be Jonathan Moreno the associate at the bioethics arms of the Center for American Progress, founded by co-chair of the Obama “office of the President-Elect” transitionist John Podesta.

And Moreno and Podesta are not the only “Progressives” on the transition team. Note the names Tom Perez (that’s a Word document), Anthony Brown, Pam Gilbert ( a .pdf from the Center for American Progress online book, “Change for America”), Nicole Lurie, (former Clinton HUD appointee, lesbian rights attorney and San Francisco Supervisor) Roberta Achtenberg, Bruce Katz, Jim Roosevelt.

And that’s just one sub-committee and only the top lines of the result of their Google searches.

Among the chatterers are the authors of Science Progress, an online newsletter and blog (with a biannual print edition) for the Center for American Progress. Jonathan Moreno is the Editor – – which is not mentioned at all in the Moreno biography linked above – – and all the usual suspects are on the advisory board. If you like the “match game” we used to play as kids, compare the names on Science Progress‘ advisory board with the Clinton National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

Those virtual pages contain advice from Moreno, Weiss, and Bernard Lo on what sort of scientists ought to be appointed by President-elect Obama and his minions and to which offices.

While Moreno advocates for the return of the science adviser to Presidential Cabinet meetings, Lo wants a National Bioethics Advisory Commission (the name that the Clinton appointed group used in the ’90’s) that not only will advise the President and the Administration by answering their specific questions, he wants the new NBAC to act:

“the Council should be addressing the nation. The Council should reach out to the American people, for example, by inviting testimony from community organizations and patient and public advocacy groups, soliciting public comments on draft proposals, and responding to criticisms by explaining the reasons why suggestions were not accepted. Further, a new council could approach communication with the public as a two-way street. Rick Borchelt and Kathy Hudson have argued here on Science Progress, “the end game of public engagement should be empowerment: creating a real and meaningful mechanism for public input to be heard far enough upstream in science and technology policymaking and program development to influence decisions.””

Professor Lo is the co-author of one of the popular textbooks on Bioethics, Resolving Ethical Dilemmas. (Although not pro-life or based on a Christian worldview, the principles in use for clinical ethics are covered fairly well. In fact, it was the text assigned in my clinical ethics class at Trinity International University, as part of the Bioethics Masters Degree program.)

I don’t believe that Professor Lo actually wishes to have a trickle up scientific policy from the citizens to direct science and ethics or public policy about either. Science cannot give empirical evidence, conduct controlled experiments or make an argument for one or the other approach to determining public policy. However, I believe that Lo, along with so many of the progressives, prefer to have scientists and academics decide science policy for the public and government, and to have carte blanche, without regard to the pro-life, religious or cultural beliefs of others. And that, in my opinion, is just as influential as money and careers in the opposition to the Bush science policy and bioethics appointees.

Science Magazine contains at least one more comment on the upcoming Obama administration appointees (Subscription only, I’m afraid.)

Gregory A. Good’s review of Zuoyue Wang’s book, In Sputnik’s Shadow, completely ignores the inclusion of many men and women who belie his description of the President Bush as only appointing “advisers who told [President Bush] what he wanted to hear.” He should at least be aware of examples such as the service of Michael Gazzaniga on the President’s Council on Bioethics, Paul Wolpe as NASA’s ethicist, even Jonathan Moreno as an adviser for the Department of Health and Human Services during the Bush Administration.

Of course, most of the discussion is about representation and money for research. However, if you enjoyed the match game above, take a look at the actual “incumbents” who are paid governmental appointees under President Bush, available in an online book available for free, here. There’s more information here on jobs and volunteer science and technology advisory committees. Compare those names and backgrounds to the authors of a similar report from 2005, here. Now, take a look at the names on the advisory boards of Science Progress, Nature, Science Magazine, and (again, of course) the American Journal of Bioethics and at the people featured on the “Science Debate 2008” webpage videos.

Where does the balance fall between the right and the left, between the pro-life and the pro-choice?

(As one of the thousands of appointees by the Bush Administration, I am deeply offended that Good would imply that anyone who served did not do so with “the best interests of the country at heart.” Is this projection on his part? Good will soon leave the History Department of West Virginia University for the American Institute of Physics– a society of societies that must have too much money to come begging to the government if they have a budget for a Center for the History of Physics, but you can e-mail him at through the end of the year.)

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


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