West Marin Citizen October 27, 2011
Goodman defended by peers
The two of us have watched with dismay as the debate over wilderness protection, sustainable agriculture, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, and the integrity of science has spiraled into the dirt. This long-term argument – never pretty – has taken a serious turn for the worse in the past two months with an escalation of personal, ad hominem attacks and an inexcusable defense of bad science by the National Park Service by a small number of loud players with vested interests. In particular, we decry the recent barrage of letter after letter published in the West Marin Citizen filled with personal attacks on the integrity of a highly respected scientist, Dr. Corey Goodman. Dr. Goodman, at huge personal cost to his time and reputation, has been in the front lines of efforts to ensure that the National Park Service’s blatant disregard for scientific integrity does not go unchallenged. His efforts, partly at the request ofCountySupervisor Steve Kinsey, have exposed serious and serial bad science.
The NPS has refused to respond to his scientific analyses, refused to convene any sort of independent review, and continues to both mischaracterize the environmental risks of the DBOC and to refuse to analyze and review their own evidence that contradicts their own findings, including over 200,000 photographs.
We were also compelled to write this letter because false claims are going unchallenged. In the most recent issue of the West Marin Citizen, a letter writer said: “I do find it significant that no other eminent scientists have concerned themselves to corroborate Dr. Goodman’s analysis.” This is false. Several eminent scientists have participated with Dr. Goodman in his analyses, and while readers can judge whether we fall into that category, the two of us have experience and expertise of some note and we fully support his work as well – as we have publicly stated. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that no eminent scientists have successfully disputed Dr. Goodman’s analysis.
We are both elected members of the NationalAcademyof Sciences. One of us is a MacArthur Fellow and President of the Pacific Institute. The other is Chancellor’s Professor of Chemistry at U.C. Berkeley. Gleick also serves as chair of the American GeophysicalUnion’s Task Force on Scientific Integrity. Both of us have reviewed the NPS science, and are deeply disturbed by its bias, unsupported characterizations, and misrepresentations.
In fact, Dr. Goodman has been far more restrained in his public statements than we have. One of us (KR) recently wrote to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and said: “I regard this as fraud and in other occupations it could be prosecuted.”
The other of us (PG) recently wrote to Salazar’s science advisor, Dr. Marcia McNutt, and said: “This is not the first instance of scientific misconduct and misrepresentation by NPS scientists at PRNS.”
Recent letters in The Citizen have also cherry-picked phrases from the Department of the Interior “Frost Report” of March 22, 2011 on the science at PRNS to try to cast a negative impression of Dr. Goodman. In fact, that Report described the NPS scientists as having “bias,” “advocacy,” a “troubling mind-set,” of having “mishandled” data, acted “improperly,” and showed a “willingness to allow subjective beliefs and values to guide scientific conclusions.” The Report stated:
“This misconduct arose from incomplete and biased evaluation and from blurring the line between exploration and advocacy through research.” The Report went on to conclude that the three NPS scientists had all violated the NPS Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct. Those are the key findings of the Frost Report, not the few words cherry picked by the letter writers trying to discredit those who have tried to hold the NPS accountable for the science it publishes.
Scientists are often reluctant to enter the public fray precisely because we prefer to argue facts and numbers and analysis in cases when personal attacks, vitriol, and emotion dominate. Indeed, other scientists have told us they do not want to see their good names dragged through the mud by the same kind of vicious attacks that Park supporters have launched against Dr. Goodman. We admire Dr. Goodman for his courage. We stand with him on the side of scientific integrity.
It is time for the NPS to respond directly and publicly to his criticisms or their flawed work should be retracted. Allowing the draft Environmental Impact Statement to cite this so-called science while the NPS scientists refuse to publicly debate it is a disservice to the community and to science. Independent of the debate over the oyster farm, if the decision is tainted with bad science, we all lose.
Dr. Peter Gleick, Berkeley;
Dr. Kenneth Raymond, Berkeley