Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public. This both impedes the progress of science and interferes with the application of science to the solution of global problems.AAAS apparently equates FOIA with death threats--both are harassment. Of course, the data requested under FOIA were taxpayer funded. Thus, they potentially are subject to disclosure--and might contain evidence of government ethics violations.
AAAS vigorously opposes attacks on researchers that question their personal and professional integrity or threaten their safety based on displeasure with their scientific conclusions. The progress of science and protection of its integrity depend on both full transparency about the details of scientific methodology and the freedom to follow the pursuit of knowledge. The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and intimidate scientists. The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse.
Worse yet is AAAS's conclusion:
[W]e think it would be unfortunate if policymakers became the arbiters of scientific information and circumvented the peer-review process. Moreover, we are concerned that establishing a practice of aggressive inquiry into the professional histories of scientists whose findings may bear on policy in ways that some find unpalatable could well have a chilling effect on the willingness of scientists to conduct research that intersects with policy-relevant scientific questions.In another statement, the AAAS amplified:
Especially when the health of our planet and its stewards are at stake, decisions should be grounded on facts and science not faith and politics.This sounds like bad science fiction: a global government of wise scientists.
The notion that science should trump democracy, policymakers, and the people, is particularly deranged. Plus, it seems that disclosure of information is essential only when Republicans are in charge. Now, silencing of dissent is golden.
Academic freedom isn't an immunity from law. But scratch a liberal, find a fascist.
(via New York Times)