<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Monday, December 08, 2003

Peer Review in Setting Regulatory limits for things like Air/Water pollution -  

Chris Mooney highlights some of the (I'd imagine unintended) consequences of the Clinton era Information Quality Act on implementing scientific/regulatory policy. His post is lengthy and worth reading but the gist of the problem is as follows...

The act requires that independent scientists review all data used to make regulatory decisions. So far so good, I mean who wouldn't want independent scientists involved in the process. The trick here is that independent is taken to mean a scientist who has recieved no government funding. A Boston Globe editorial Mooney quotes highlights why this is a bad thing...

To grasp the implications of this radical departure, one must recognize that in the United States there are effectively two pots of money that support science: one from government and one from industry. (A much smaller contribution comes from charitable foundations.) If one excludes scientists supported by the government, including most scientists based at universities, the remaining pool of reviewers will be largely from industry...

Effectively then, the only independent reviewers of regulatory decisions will be scientists employed by industry (with no government funding). A sane reading of independent might suggest that these folks are the least indpendent of all (I mean, after all, an industrial scientists pay check is directly tied to the profitability of his employer. A status that is greatly influenced by regulatory details). Unfortunately the law, as written, seems a sort of Congressional departure from rationality.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?