Back on June 6th, OSTP (the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) officially declined to reexamine its highly-publicized January explanation for the extremely cold winter. According to that video, The Polar Vortex Explained In 2 Minutes, the likely culprit was global warming; this was supposedly demonstrated, in Director John Holdren’s words, by “a growing body of evidence”.
In a Data Quality correction petition that we filed with OSTP in April, we pointed out that the body of evidence supporting Holdren was in fact shrinking, not growing. (In fact, it shrank even more earlier this week, when yet another contrary study came out.) But OSTP ducked the issue, claiming that its Director had only been expressing his “personal opinion”, and that therefore the Data Quality Act didn’t apply.
Note that the video is posted on the White House youtube channel and has been touted by other OSTP staff. OSTP never corrected any of the many reporters who interpreted it as being the White House line. If Holdren’s mere “personal opinion” was dressed up in this much official garb, then how much more formality would have accompanied an “official” statement? Would herald angels have burst into song?
So today we filed an appeal with OSTP of its decision. It’s reprinted below, but here’s the gist of it:
“OSTP’s rationale is sheer nonsense, concocted in order to escape its legal responsibilities for highly questionable scientific assertions that produced a huge number of self-aggrandizing headlines. Moreover, even if its rationale is correct, OSTP still has a responsibility to prominently label the statements at issue as personal opinions, so that neither the media nor viewers of its web site continue to mistake them as official agency positions.”
That’s right, OSTP. If you’re serious about this being your Director’s personal opinion, then put a fat red rubber-stamped disclaimer saying that on the video. Better yet, take the video off your website before some government auditor asks why agency resources are being used to promote personal opinions.
You’ve got wonder whether global warming is affecting these people’s judgment.