Seven constrained phrases: who gets to speak for science?

Dec 28, 2017

Recently, news was released that the scientists of the CDC were given a list of phrases not to be used in documents related to the upcoming budget proposal.  At first it seemed that the list came from someone connected to the current administration but that scenario may not be correct.  Instead, the admonition may have originated within the CDC itself in an attempt to ease concern among people who might read the recommendations based on the reports.  In either case, the outcome does not bode well for scientists or science.  Instead of concentrating on where the data leads and how to best convey results, scientists must now worry about whom they might offend and how to couch results in palatable fashion.  Some might say this approach has always been true but, while politicians have always tried to spin things their way, is it asking too much to let scientists just do their job and try to get the science right?  The situation hearkens back to banned words of the past and who is protecting whom from what.