Posts tagged censorship

Government science

For nearly a decade, the Conservative government in Canada enforced formal rules and a byzantine censorial bureaucracy deliberately intended to control the time, manner and content of any and all public statements by every one of the many scientists working for branches of the Canadian government. Of course this policy destroyed open communication, hampered research, and damaged the careers of promising scientists. It was often used heavyhandedly to censor scientists’ discussion of their own research to comply with political priorities and even to muffle public criticism of the governments’ communications procedures or censorship policies.

The basic liberal response is to look at this horrible situation and say, This is why it’s important to elect governments that won’t try to control what the scientists that work for them can say to the public. Just think of what might happen in Canada if the political winds reverse.

The radical response is to look at this horrible situation and say, This is why it’s important for scientists to be independent of government funding. If scientists work for the government, then their jobs are dependent on a political process and they are subject to political control. But scientific shouldn’t be subject to the direction of the political winds.

The original article from Nature follows below.

Shared Article from Nature News & Comment

Nine years of censorship

Canadian scientists are now allowed to speak out about their work — and the government policy that had restricted communications.

Nine years of censorship

Early one Thursday morning last November, Kristi Miller-Saunders was surprised to receive a visit from her manager. Miller-Saunders, a molecular geneticist at the Canadian fisheries agency, had her reasons to worry about attention from above. On numerous occasions over the previous four years, government officials had forbidden her from talking to the press or the public about her work on the genetics of salmon — part of a broad policy that muzzled government scientists in Canada for many years. At one point, a brawny minder had actually accompanied her to a public hearing to make sure that she didn’t break the rules.

But the meeting last autumn was different. Miller-Saunders’ manager at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in Nanaimo walked in with a smile and gave her advance notice that the newly elected government would be opening up scientific communication: she and other federal researchers would finally be free to speak to the press. . . .Canadian scientists celebrated the move far and wide. . . . Six months later, the government is loosening its grip on communications but the shift at some agencies has not been as swift and comprehensive as many had hoped. And with the newfound freedom to speak, the full impact of the former restrictions is finally becoming clear. Canadian scientists and government representatives are opening up about what it was like to work under the former policy and the kind of consequences it had. Some of the officials who imposed the rules are talking about how the restrictions affected the morale and careers of researchers. Their stories hint at how governments control communications in even more politically repressive countries such as China, and suggest what might happen in Canada if the political winds reverse.

The crackdown on government scientists in Canada began in 2006, after Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party was elected prime minister. During the nine-year Harper administration, the government placed a priority on boosting the economy, in part by stimulating development and increasing the extraction of resources, such as petroleum from the oil sands in Alberta. To speed projects along, the administration eased environmental regulations. And when journalists sought out government scientists to ask about the impacts of such changes, or anything to do with environmental or climate science, they ran into roadblocks.

For decades before the Harper administration, reporters had been free to call up government researchers directly for interviews. But suddenly, all requests for interviews had to be sent to government communications offices, which then had to get approval from multiple tiers of bureaucrats higher up. “It was an incredible rigmarole to try and get the most innocuous bit of information to media or the public,” says Diane Lake, who was a communications officer with the DFO at the time.

Lake had been a newspaper reporter for a dozen years before joining the department in 1992, so she knew what journalists needed to produce stories. She has fond memories of her time as a communications officer before the Harper years, but after he took office, her job became less about communicating science and more about censoring it. When journalists called her trying to reach scientists, she was required to get approval for scripted answers that researchers could give, but she found the authorization process opaque and arbitrary. There were never any written protocols on what would pass muster and what wouldn’t, she says. I would always say, can you write that down? to folks in Ottawa. No one ever did. . . .

–Lesley Evans Ogden, Nine years of censorship
Nature (03 May 2016)

Wednesday Lazy Linking

<li><p><a href="">Saving Our History Books For The Singularity. rechelon, <cite>Human Iterations</cite> (2010-07-26)</a>. <q>Some noble soul has labored to put the two most important history books on Individualist Anarchism’s first wave in America online — and in very accessible condition.   Anyway, I felt I had to pause in my projects and distractions to let you know.  This is the shit. Eunice Minette Schuster’s...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">What does it mean to love your enemies? Ryan, <cite>The Peaceable Kingdom</cite> (2010-07-26)</a>. <q>A question many Christians aren’t really asking. This moving video lays it out very simply. It is not wide-eyed optimism in the sense that it doesn’t portray automatic world peace and love in the face of violence. It means that to truly love your enemies you might have to receive...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">A squealing leftie writes. chris dillow, <cite>Stumbling and Mumbling</cite> (2010-07-23)</a>. <q>Tim says something that puzzles me:Human beings really are status seeking beings. The method of ranking it, enforcing it, discovering it, may change, but that there will be a social hierarchy is a given. And that’s the bit that our squealing lefties seem to forget….Simply because we are human beings...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Three from Vienna. <cite>Austro-Athenian Empire</cite> (2010-07-27)</a>. Including an excellent anthology from my teacher Kelly Jolley, also including essays by my other teacher Roderick Long; and a Tractarian musical number. About the latter, all I can say is that he would have been better off trying to whistle it. <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Trail of Tears 2010. <cite>der Blaustrumpf</cite> (2010-07-27)</a>. Deportation is ethnic cleansing. Nothing more, nothing less. <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Remember Furkan Dogan. Sheldon Richman, <cite>Free Association</cite> (2010-07-27)</a>. <q>Furkan Dogan was the 19-year-old American fatally shot five times by Israeli commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara headed for Gaza -- without a peep from the Obama administration, which has time to get involved with everything else happening in the world. Dogan was a bright young man with a promising...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Wikileaks releases classified Afghanistan war logs: "largest intelligence leak in history" Xeni Jardin, <cite>Boing Boing</cite> (2010-07-25)</a>. <q>An archive of classified U.S. military logs spanning six years, more than 91,000 documents, and 200,000 pages, was today made available by WikiLeaks. The papers show a picture of the war in Afghanistan that is far more grim, and far less hopeful, than previously portrayed. The New York Times, London's...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Guadec Day 2: In pursuit of critical mass. Ivanka Majic, <cite>Canonical Design</cite> (2010-07-27)</a>. <q>Today I was reminded of this quote by Jane Goodall: If everyone could think a little bit about small choices they make every day: What do you eat, does it result in animal cruelty? What do you wear, how was it made, does it damage the environment? When people start...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Tuesday 2010-07-27.)</em></p></li>

Wednesday Lazy Linking

<li><p><a href="">SWAT Raids Gone Wrong -- Paramilitary Policing Is Out of Control. Phillip S. Smith, Drug War Chronicle, <cite> Main RSS Feed</cite> (2010-06-01)</a>. <q>In 1980, 2,884 SWAT deployments were recorded nationwide; the number today is estimated by experts at 50,000 annually or more.</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-06-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">C4SS May Fund Drive. Mariana Evica, <cite>Center for a Stateless Society</cite> (2010-05-30)</a>. <q>NEWS Here’s where we are, who’s moving us forward, and what our personnel are doing. Starting June 1st, Thomas L. Knapp will become the C4SS Media Coordinator. His pay will change to $640 monthly for 20 hours weekly labor in that role. He will also retain the title of Senior News...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-06-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">You Can Get 15 Years in Jail For Recording an On-Duty Cop in Illinois. <cite> Main RSS Feed</cite> (2010-05-20)</a>. <q>Wow… Last week, an Illinois judge rejected Chicago artist Christopher Drew’s motion to dismiss the Class I felony charge against him. Drew is charged with violating the state’s eavesdropping statute when he recorded his encounter with a police officer last December on the streets of Chicago. A Class I felony...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-06-02.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Freedom Blogs will mirror censored websites. Mike Gogulski -, <cite>Anarchoblogs</cite> (2010-05-26)</a>. <q>I am pleased to announce, after reading Global Voices Advocacy’s Guide: Mirroring a Censored WordPress Blog, that I am willing to mirror blogs or other websites at Freedom Blogs which: are worthy, in my view, of being defended against censorship; don’t cause me to lose my paid hosting accounts or...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2010-06-02.)</em></p></li>

Monday Lazy Linking

<li><a href="">L.A. Anarchist Bookfair: Actions + Conversations + Intersections 2010. Guy Debord, <cite>Los Angeles Anarchist</cite> (2010-01-16)</a>. <q>L.A. Anarchist Bookfair: Actions + Conversations + Intersections 2010 Sunday January 24th : : Barnsdall Art Park 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009) Guest Contributor, <cite>Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture</cite> (2010-01-11)</a>. <q>by Guest Contributor Geo, originally published at Prometheus Brown Morgan Freeman: the kind of black dude even an old white racist can’t hate. Which is why he was cast to drive Miss Daisy, free a man from prison, become president (twice), help Batman, and become the literal, physical embodiment of...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Blame the Libertarians! Radley Balko, <cite>The Agitator</cite> (2010-01-11)</a>. <q>Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Peyton Thomas has emerged as Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s book-learnin’ alter-ego, working with Arpaio to criminally investigate, indict, and otherwise legally intimidate anyone who dares to question the fearless lawman (as well as, now, anyone who dares to question Thomas). Thomas has gone after members of the...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">BOSTON COPS ABUSE THOSE TAKING PIX OF THEM. <cite>UNDERNEWS</cite> (2010-01-18)</a>. The War on Photography (Cont'd.) <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Creatures from the Conservative Id. <cite>Pro Libertate</cite> (2010-01-18)</a>. Dick Cheney and the triumph of enthusiastic sado-statism. [Trigger warning: the second half of this story includes graphic descriptions of torture and a photograph of its aftereffects.] <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Another Brick in the Wall. <cite>Mises Institute Daily Articles (Full-text version)</cite> (2010-01-14)</a>. <q>[Originally published as "Song that's driving teachers up the wall" in Libertarian Review, Vol. 9, No. 9 (September 1980), pp. 42–43.] The British Band, Pink Floyd's song, "Another Brick in the Wall" has been banned in South Africa, ignored by some radio stations in the United States, and attacked by...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Eminent Domain Abuse: What Would Homer Simpson Do? <cite>Division of Labour</cite> (2010-01-18)</a>. Resistance to Ratner in NYC <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">A Matter of Degree: The New York Subway. <cite>Mises Institute Daily Articles (Full-text version)</cite> (2010-01-11)</a>. <q>[From chapter 14 of The Rise and Fall of Society by Frank Chodorov.] The small State can do to Society everything the large State can do, but not so much of it. The tyranny and terrorism of modern communistic overlords is of a kind with the practices of ancient Sparta,...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href="">Warwick Township Cop Assaults, Kidnaps and Imprisons Me Over My Request for  Business Card. <cite>Arm your Mind for Liberty</cite> (2010-01-18)</a>. Gansters in Blue arrest George Donnelly for speaking when not spoken to. <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>
<li><a href=""> joins the fight for liberty online. David Veksler, <cite>Mises Economics Blog</cite> (2010-01-16)</a>. <q>You may have heard that Google's decided to stop censoring results from its Chinese search engine. After China attempted to access the email accounts of human rights activists, Google also decided to encrypt all Gmail traffic by default. The team behind is also contributing to the effort to keep...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Monday 2010-01-18.)</em></li>