D is for Deliberate data distortion

As a librarian, I count on access to data that are undistorted by political agendas.

I received a notice about a workshop in Washington, DC on March 8, from The Association of Public Data Users (APDU), Building the Case for Public Statistics: Workshop for Stakeholders.

The opening sentences of the description I firmly believe:

“In uncertain times, we need evidence. Federal statistics are vital sources. Researchers, businesses, governments, and nonprofits rely on this data, and we need to do a better job of telling policymakers that investment in data is important.”

This resonated with me because recent events from the current regime have suggested a blatant disregard for data. Most notably, officials of the Centers for Disease Control have been banned from using certain words, those being Vulnerable, Entitlement, Diversity, Transgender, Fetus, Evidence-based and Science-based. Later, the Department overseeing the CDC, Health and Human Services denied actually banning the words, saying that they are “recommendations.”

Nevertheless, this newspeak has been widely, and understandably, mocked, with folks on social media finding ways to include all the words as often as possible. Jim Reisner wrote, “The science-based study on diversity showed that a vulnerable, transgender fetus was not eligible for any entitlements generated by an evidence-based analysis of Republican compassion.” I thought it was brilliant.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s head, Scott Pruitt, has called for the elimination of the term “global warming.” He has cited the Bible to justify removing scientists from advisory boards. When EPA employees spoke out against the anti-science policies, then came scrutiny of their email.

Also, the regime has reversed the inclusion of climate as a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, as the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality – bad enough – it has refused to take action to remove fraudulent comments or to prevent them from being filed.

As a librarian, I count on access to data that are undistorted by political agendas. I need, to quote Joe Friday, “Just the facts.”

For ABC Wednesday