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Why Joe Biden’s bid to restore scientific integrity matters

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Nature, January 2022

In September 2019, then-president Donald Trump falsely stated that Alabama was under threat from Hurricane Dorian as it approached the US mainland. Three days later, despite assurances from local weather bureau officials that the claim was false, Trump showed reporters a map in which the storm’s projected path seemed to have been altered with a Sharpie permanent marker. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency, endorsed Trump’s assertion.

In June 2020, a NOAA review panel found that Neil Jacobs, an atmospheric scientist and the agency’s acting administrator, and Julie Roberts, its deputy chief of staff and communications director, had “engaged in misconduct intentionally, knowingly or in reckless disregard” for the agency’s scientific-integrity policy by backing Trump’s incorrect assertion.

The incident, dubbed Sharpiegate, features in ‘Protecting the Integrity of Government Science’, a long-awaited report that the Biden administration’s Task Force on Scientific Integrity released last week (see go.nature.com/3ztsjv6; see also Nature 601, 310–311; 2022). Ordered by the current US president seven days after his inauguration in January last year, the task force’s review of scientific-integrity policies at federal agencies sets out how trust in government can be restored through scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking.

Continue reading at Nature.

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