Dean Acosta Goes Off The Deep End

Editor's note: Dean: If your skin is this thin you really need to find another line of work.

The New Gag Rules, editorial, Science (subscription)

"For at least two reasons, this event may establish a new high-water mark for bureaucratic stupidity. First, Hansen's views on this general subject have long been widely available; he thinks climate change is due to anthropogenic sources, and he's discouraged that we're not doing more about it. For NASA to lock the stable door when this horse has been out on the range for years is just silly. Second, Hansen's history shows that he just won't be intimidated, and he has predictably told the Times that he will ignore the restrictions. The efforts by Acosta and Deutsch are reminiscent of the slapstick antics of Curley and Moe: a couple of guys stumbling off to gag someone who the audience knows will rip the gag right off."

Working Together for Communication, Letters, Science (subscription)

Donald Kennedy's Editorial "The new gag rules" (17 Feb., p. 917) was quite disturbing. I was offended, not by the unfounded allegations of conspiracy at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but by the Editorial's reckless disregard for the truth.

The New York Times article (1) upon which the Editorial is based contains no references whatsoever to any personal involvement by me in any sort of conspiracy or political influence. Is Kennedy's citing of these nonexistent allegations a deliberate fabrication of "facts" to fit his editorial position--or is it just shoddy journalism?

I know scientists often feel they are eloquent writers and expert communicators, but often they are not. Nor are public affairs officers always experts in science. This is why public affairs officers and scientists must work together in explaining their work in a way that laymen can understand. That is the best way to communicate their incredible science discoveries to the public.

Dean Acosta
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20546, USA


A. C. Revkin, "Climate expert says NASA tried to silence him," N.Y. Times, 29 Jan. 2006, p. 1.


Acosta offers not a single instance of misrepresentation, fabrication, inaccuracy, or shoddy journalism in my Editorial. Readers can check the New York Times article we both cited to see whether I misrepresented it. His letter is short on facts but rich in rhetoric, presumably to support his central point: that public affairs types need to collaborate with scientists because the latter can't write well.

Donald Kennedy

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on May 26, 2006 4:12 PM.

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