Beware 'Sound Science'

"When George W. Bush and members of his administration talk about environmental policy, the phrase 'sound science' rarely goes unuttered," Chris Mooney writes in the Washington Post. "On issues ranging from climate change to the storage of nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, our president has assured us that he's backing up his decisions with careful attention to the best available research. ... It all sounds noble enough, but the phrases 'sound science' and 'peer review' don't necessarily mean what you might think. Instead, they're part of a lexicon used to put a pro-science veneer on policies that most of the scientific community itself tends to be up in arms about. In this Orwellian vocabulary, 'peer review' isn't simply an evaluation by learned colleagues. Instead, it appears to mean an industry-friendly plan to require such exhaustive analysis that federal agencies could have a hard time taking prompt action to protect public health and the environment. And 'sound science' can mean, well, not-so-sound science."