People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Welcome To My World

Just when you thought it was safe to put the snowplow away til next year ...
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo courtesy of StrangeCosmos.com.Posted by Hello

Wild Horses Going To Slaughter?

I thought we had put a stop to this. Apparently not.
Wild Horses Run Risk of Slaughter
Advocates Rally to Revive Ban
By Kimberly Edds, Special to The Washington Post

After more than 30 years of roaming federal lands free of any threat of the slaughterhouse, wild mustangs, which have become synonymous with the spirit and heart of the American West, can now be sold and butchered for meat if the Bureau of Land Management cannot sell them elsewhere.

In December, Congress repealed a 34-year prohibition on the slaughter of wild horses and required the government to sell the unwanted ones. Many ranchers complain that the horses are eating up forage needed for their cattle. (link)
Cattle ranchers can perhaps argue that there are too many wild horses on the range and that the meager forage available to them is inadequate to sustain their numbers, but there is something missing from this story; the real reason the ranchers want the wild horses destroyed.

There is no creature living in the wild today whose population is more manageable than is that of the wild horse. Horses are herding creatures and are easily captured. They are routinely rounded up and driven into government holding pens. It wouldn't require much effort - or cash - to control their reproductivity while holding them.

Instead the government, pressured by major campaign contributors, intends to send hundreds - perhaps thousands - to slaughter. Why?

Politicians Masquerading As Scientists

I remember taking a political science class in my undergraduate course of studies. My recollection may be flawed but I could swear that it involved the study of politics as a science. Not how to politicize science. But I'm beginning to question my memory after reading stories like this (from the Washington Times this morning):

The CDC's bogus study

About a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control issued a highly publicized report stating that obesity-related health problems kill 400,000 Americans every year -- an "epidemic" second only to smoking in causing preventable deaths. The story was big news. A host of outside skeptics, however, such as the Center for Consumer Freedom, questioned the findings, and their efforts eventually forced the CDC to admit that at least part of the study was flawed. Now, despite even more critical evidence, the CDC
says its mistakes don't matter.

In November, the Wall Street Journal first reported that due to a calculation error, the CDC "may have inflated the study's death toll by about 80,000 fatalities." That wasn't all. Shortly after the study's publication in the March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an associate director on science at the CDC wrote an e-mail to his colleagues: "I would never have cleared this paper if I had been given the opportunity to provide a formal review."

Indeed, the study's flaws went much deeper than mathematics, and the CDC knew it. A story in the May issue of Science magazine found that political considerations might have influenced the authors' work. "Some researchers, including a few at the CDC, ... argue that the paper's compatibility with a new anti-obesity theme in government public health pronouncements -- rather than sound analysis -- propelled it to print," Science reported. Tellingly, many researchers refused to be identified for the story. Said one, "I don't want to lose my job." (link)

The fact that the CDC is influenced by politics is not news. After all, it was the CDC that started releasing studies in the early 1990's purportedly illustrating the harmful health effects of firearms usage. And they did it with little interest in the fact that their charge was to facilitate the investigation of diseases, to coordinate research efforts, and to make recommendations for federal funding to eradicate them.

But the brazenness with which the leadership at CDC approaches their work is breathtaking.
Last week, CCF [Center for Consumer Freedom] Director Richard Berman wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that was highly critical of the CDC's conduct regarding the flawed report. In response, CDC chief science officer Dixie E. Snider wrote, "[W]e cannot and should not let this discussion of scientific methodology detract from the real issue" [my emphasis]. This is dangerous reasoning indeed coming from a scientist.
Firearms. Second-hand smoke. Obesity. The science (or lack thereof) isn't as important as "the real issue" - politics.

Perhaps there is another disease for which we should find a cure: political scientists.