John Droz has shared a disturbing story about an interaction with “a senior person” from the National Academy of Science in a post on energyblogs.com titled The Corruption of our National Academies. It seems that John, who has expertise in renewable energy systems, had some strong reservations about the quality of the science underlying an NAS report titled America’s Energy Future: Electricity from Renewables: Technology Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs.
John was interested in finding out more about the study’s methods, conflicts of interest among reviewers, review comments, and other fairly standard information about a report that provides policy recommendations that are supposed to be based on the best available science. I will let you go and read John’s story for yourself, but here is a pertinent quote:
I was surprised that such a PR piece had been released by the Academies, and decided to investigate whether this was an aberration, or a degradation of standards. I was put in touch with a senior person at the Academies — we’ll play Dear Abby here and (to protect the innocent) call him “Dr. D.”
I had several lengthy correspondences with Dr. D, and the more I heard, the more concerned I became. In the beginning, after I objected to the lack of science and objectivity in this report, Dr. D tried to dismiss my contentions by stating that I simply didn’t like its conclusions.
That, of course, was a disingenuous response, as I had said nothing about the report’s conclusions, and had focused my comments on its methodology. Unfortunately, this was a sign of similar foolishness to come.
John’s experience may be an aberration, but it might also indicate a wider problem that needs further investigation and action. We must continue to reinforce the notion that there really are some facts in the world that can be discovered. We do not have to make decisions based on unsupportable opinions and we definitely should not be making decisions based on protecting narrow economic interests that put the interests of millions of other people into a secondary position.