On Friday, Mark of the Denialism blog made a call to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment, which was slashed shortly following the 1994 Republican Takeover. The OTA was responsible for vetting facts reported to Congress, to cut through the spin and abuse of science that politics is capable of, so that our legislators might make well-informed decisions. Clearly, that got in the way of the Republican agenda, and had to be scrapped.
It used to be, for about 30 years (from 1974 to 1995), there was an office on the Hill, named the Office of Technology Assessment, which worked for the legislative branch and provided non-partisan scientific reports relevant to policy discussions. It was a critical office, one that through thorough and complete analysis of the scientific literature gave politicians common facts from which to decide policy debates. In 1994, with the new Republican congress, the office was eliminated for the sake of budget cuts, but the cost in terms of damage to the quality of scientific debate on policy has been incalculable. Chris Mooney described it as Congress engaging in “a stunning act of self-lobotomy” in his book the Republican War on Science.
This is an example of something so obviously useful to government, that I find it absurd that anyone would have to campaign to have it maintained. Yet that’s the state of our government – we have to fight to keep science from being marginalized, ignored, and made to look as though it were some leftist scam. That is what Republicanism has done to our country – shift the politics so far to the Right that reality appears to have a left-leaning bias. (sorry for the rant)
Science should be non-partisan, not made to appear to be leftist. Bring back the OTA, so that things like facts and evidence can be used to inform politics, as opposed to spin and talking points.