Trump Administration Attempts Censoring Center for Disease Control’s Use of Words

The following is excerpted from MedScape:


COMMENTARY:  Censoring the CDC Is Scary and Crazy, Says Ethicist

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD.  December 18, 2017.  In Medscape


What Kind of Government Bans Legitimate Words?

On Friday, December 15, the Washington Post reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been banned from using the words “vulnerable,” “science-based,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “diversity,” “entitlement,” and, my particular favorite, “evidence-based.”

Never mind that these words appear all the time in peer-reviewed science journals, textbooks, professional guidelines, and even government regulations. The message from on high was to not have any of these terms show up in CDC budget documents and communications with Congress.

By the next day, the administration was furiously backpedaling. Spokesman Matt Lloyd, from the CDC’s bureaucratic organizational home, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told the media, “The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process. HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

This is what is known by journalism pros as a non-denial denial. Lloyd did not say that the arbitrary comment to the CDC prohibiting the words had not been issued. Rather, he said that the whole thing had been “mischaracterized”—whatever the heck that means. I think you can hear his comments as “message successfully delivered, so prove us wrong….”

…The Trump Administration can deny or reverse itself all it wants, but the Washington Post’s reporting had enough eyewitnesses testify to the effort at censorship to give anti-totalitarianism 1984 author George Orwell hives.

And this administration has already shown its censorious hand. The seven-forbidden-words ban echoes earlier attempts to deny scientific facts by getting rid of the words “climate change” and “climate change adaptation” in favor of “weather extremes” and “resilience to weather extremes” in documents from the administration’s Department of Agriculture…

…censorship and denial of science would be following in the steps of other world leaders who also sought to ban science in the name of ideology when it came to matters where the science did not suit their politics.

This administration has been allowing our national preeminence in science to slip away. Science plays very little role in this White House. Government funding for science and medical research appears to be stagnant. France, the UK, China, and many other nations are gleefully starting to poach our brightest and best in medicine and science to kick-start their economies…

…We cannot replace truth with bias in forming our public health, climate, and defense policies. Indeed, as the influential 18th century Scottish economist Adam Smith warned in his The Theory of Moral Sentiments, you cannot long sustain free markets without a commitment to truth, facts, and morality. A steady diet of baloney when it comes to the facts provides insufficient sustenance to both free markets and democracies.

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