No Time for Scientists – Wisconsin Edition

With apologies to Mac Hyman …and Andy Griffith

Leaders at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are proposing elimination of the Bureau of Science Services within the department.

From WisconsinWatch:

In a Feb. 25 email, Scott Hull, a section chief in the Bureau of Science Services, asked Mark Aquino, director of the agency’s Office of Business Support and Science, for clarification on remarks made by Secretary Cathy Stepp on a radio show about possible budget cuts and personnel changes for the bureau.

In his Feb. 26 response, Aquino informed Hull that the agency “will go through some form of organizational change that will result in not having a Bureau of Science Services, in an effort to address the legislative perception of research not being well aligned with program needs.”


The agency’s Bureau of Science Services has recently drawn criticism from state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. Tiffany criticized a bureau report on environmental concerns surrounding the now-defunct plan from Gogebic Taconite to build an open-pit iron mine in northwestern Wisconsin. He said the report was biased against the mine.

Tiffany also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was not supportive of the bureau doing research related to climate change because the science behind global warming is still “theoretical.”

According to the article, supporters of the Governor’s proposed cuts to the DNR Science Bureau argued that some of the scientific analysis could be undertaken by UW. To me this seems highly unlikely to occur given impending cuts to state funding of the UW system, in addition to the fact that the type of research conducted by DNR is substantially different from basic research conducted at the University (as discussed in the article).

The Governor’s budget proposal for DNR is discussed in an earlier article from February, and here.

Update: In another advance for open dialog, the words “climate change” cannot be included in discussions by certain Wisconsin state employees, at the behest of the Wisconsin State Treasurer (currently a Republican). See Bloomberg.

Update, 4/9 8:40AM Pacific: I thought this approach to science reminded me of some other event. Then I remembered — see here.

43 thoughts on “No Time for Scientists – Wisconsin Edition

  1. Ian Easson

    Science must be suppressed at all costs!!!!

    There is no room for the truth in politics.

    Scientists are, after all, totally unreliable and opposed to the current political ideology in whatever country and class you currently support.

  2. Rick Stryker

    Claiming the re-org of the Bureau of Science Services is about hostility to science is one way to avoid the budget cuts, but it seems transparently not credible to me. This reorg is just about the need to cut the budget. The Bureau may have gotten some bad press in the Legislature for being associated with climate research. Normally, that would not be a problem, but when the revenues are down and cuts need to be made, people are naturally going to look for areas in which agencies are straying from the mission at hand, which in this case is state environmental issues.

    Why can’t the Bureau of Science Services staff be folded in to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW Madison, with a separate research function focused on state environmental issues? I would think the staff might welcome that move, since they would then have the benefit of many colleagues who are potentially working in related fields. This move would also be consistent with the Wisconsin Idea.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Rick Stryker: You might be unaware, but the Governor has proposed reduction in funding for the UW system. So, you propose the UW faculty and staff do this work for free?

      1. Rick Stryker


        I’m asking why the already existing staff cannot be moved to the Nelson Institute and perhaps other UW organizations and why they can’t do the work from there? I don’t know enough about the budget situation, but I’d assume that as part of that move, already existing unfilled positions would not be filled and perhaps existing positions might be cut. I personally would not want to eliminate anyone who is already there. But one solution could be to get some of the people in the Nelson Institute more involved with state environmental issues so that existing people would not have to be cut.

        The critics are saying, according to the article you linked, that “such a reorganization would rob the state of impartial science that should guide critical natural resource management decisions. Instead, they say, management would more likely be driven by policy decisions and politics.” But if they are moved to the Nelson Institute, why would they not be impartial anymore?

        1. sherparick

          If you are not eliminating positions and firing people, where are the savings coming from? If UW is losing funding, where would it find funding for the positions being eliminated from DNR? That the Wisconsin DNR does not need a science section to manage state natural resources means that the people making decisions prefer ignorance to knowledge when making decisions. Hence if a mine or fracking ends polluting ground water or causing earthquakes, they can say “hooocooodhavnown” and say not “our fault.” I love also the way public policy decisions by Walker’s administration are announced on right-wing talk radio. Well, the people listening to those stations have got the Government they want, and they are in turn getting it “good and hard” as H. L. Mencken said.

          1. Rick Stryker


            The news article linked said that 9 positions were currently unfilled and I was suggesting that they wouldn’t be filled as part of the move. So, that’s a savings of 9. However, the governor’s budget wants 9 more positions as well. At this point, the BSS would need to negotiate. When the leaner times come, it’s important to deliver value very clearly. If, just as example, the BSS moved into Nelson and enlisted some of the people there to work with them, and, especially if they focused what they are doing more on Wisconsin’s most pressing needs, then they might be able to argue that they can make up the 9 positions lost with no loss of productivity. They could share administrative resources, etc. and maybe pledge that they would not fill any spots lost to attrition, for more savings. That might induce the budget cutters to look elsewhere for more cuts and not try to take an additional 9 from the BSS.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Rick Stryker: Why not save even more money — move the Department of Revenue into the UW Economics Department? Both entities deal with money, so, why not! Or move DoR into La Follette? They both deal with policy. Imagine the savings. Maybe outsource the rest of the government analytics to say the MacIver Institute. We at least know the quality of analysis emanating from there.

  3. baffling

    so the governor shuts down a science office, and offloads the responsibility to the University system, without any funding for the work. he gets his wish, no scientific research on the environmental issues. starve the beast. it is the same game played on the national level, create tax cuts (and lie about the tax revenue benefits as the reason for the cuts), create a large budget deficit, and use this self created wound as an excuse to cut the budget further.

  4. CoRev

    For those unfamiliar with bureaucratic budget cuts, they usually start by reducing staff functions to protect the core functions. Planning. public relations loosely related science programs focusing on climate science would often qualify for those cuts. These kinds of functions are established and grow during fat budget periods, and are the low hanging fruit when those budgets go lean.

    If most don’t know what the core functions of DNR organizations are, they concentrate on specialized enforcement/policing of natural sources regulations, and the expansion of those regulations. It is easy to see how climate science is/could be considered removed from the core functions.

    Change the budget environment, and these functions and/or similar fads will re-establish.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Yes, you are right. Case in point: the articles quoting Tom Tiffany, a northern Wisconsin Republican, don’t really convey his real problem with the Bureau of Science Services (BSS), which is just about your point that the Bureau has strayed from its primary mission.

      One of Tiffany’s concerns about the BSS was that it released a report very critical of iron mining that he was trying to promote to create jobs for the state. His specific criticism is that the Division of Natural Resources and BSS teamed up with an outside academic, Tom Fitz of Northland College, a well-known, strident critic of mining in Wisconsin to produce the report. Tiffany wondered why the BSS would team up with a mining critic if it wanted to produce and objective, “scientific” report. Fitz had gained some notoriety when he claimed that he discovered Grunerite, a dangerous asbestos carcinogenic substance, at a proposed northern Wisconsin mining site. His finding was later debunked by a U of Minnesota lab. However, the DNR relied on Fitz’s finding to change the way it regulated rock samples taken by Gogebic Taconite.

      Moreover, hunting is an important money-making industry in northern Wisconsin. The DNR is responsible for setting the size of the deer herds as well as the predator herds. Tiffany has been critical of the DNR for several years for giving out too many antlerless deer permits and for not properly controlling the number of predators. As a result, the deer hunting seasons over the past few years have been poor, costing his district money. Tiffany feels that the DNR and the BSS in particular are not giving the Wisconsin tax payer good value in this regard.

      So, there’s more to this story than climate change, as we might expect.

      1. tew

        Thanks for the info. The great thing about online comments is that – not often, but every once in a while – someone has some real context and additional information that is important to the discussion.

        1. Rick Stryker

          I usually do source points that I am trying to establish as true. In this case, I wasn’t trying to say that what Tiffany believes is true or false so I didn’t bother to source nor did I look into it very carefully. Rather, I was trying to explain his point of view.

          I was very skeptical that this controversy could really be about climate research. I don’t think the DNR does much if any climate research anyway. I thought this must be about something more tangible and so looked into it to see. Of course, not surprisingly, it’s about a senator, what he’s trying to do for his constituents, and whether he perceives that the Bureau of Science Research and DNR have been helpful.

          But I would imagine the media is exaggerating Tiffany’s role in this as well.

          1. baffling

            rick, it appears the geologist Fitz was correct in his assessment. others tried to use incorrect arguments to discredit his findings. the implication is research tied to Fitz is biased and unworthy of serious discussion related to policy, etc. you propagated that implication in your response. that was wrong. you call Fritz a strident critic of mining as if he arbitrarily chose that position. perhaps you should consider he came to that position after years of hard work studying the field, and his results indicate problems with mining. calling him a “strident critic” because his research results led to this conclusion is a bit condescending. he did not conduct faith based research.

    2. baffling

      “For those unfamiliar with bureaucratic budget cuts, they usually start by reducing staff functions to protect the core functions. ”

      incorrect. they begin by reducing departments that do not support the ideology of the current conservative leader. ever wonder why conservatives are always looking for a way to eliminate or reduce the cbo?

  5. Kevin O'Neill

    CoRev writes:” It is easy to see how climate science is/could be considered removed from the core functions.”

    Robert Palmer sang ‘Completely Irresistible.’ The above may be completely nonsensical, or completely incomprehensible. Or just stupid.

    1. Rick Stryker

      You can’t even get the basic facts of your fact-free, argument-free put down right . Robert Palmer sang “Simply Irresistible” not “Completely Irresistible.”

  6. don

    Aggravating. Popular elections seem to be giving us representatives of stupid. One can say the blame lies with us, for the low voter turnout. But that is useless railing against reality. Anyone not statistically challenged knows the value of his vote. Perhaps a government propaganda initiative to shame non-voters, along with some mark (e.g. an armband) for those who have voted?
    Florida’s Governor wants to ban the term ‘climate change.’ Californians are suffering rather more immediately, but the price of real estate in Florida will sooner or later reflect reality. My guess is that the capitalization of future expectations, though very long term, will come suddenly and we will find the price of Florida real estate responding noticeably to things like announcements of new technology to capture carbon, or international agreements on climate change policies.

  7. Dr. Morbius

    The GOP War on Mathematics will continue until the value of pi changes to a more politically acceptable value.

  8. Ricardo

    Science funded by government is not science. It is propaganda. “Government science” (an oxymoron) is a machine designed to increase government largess. The government is not in the truth business but in the “getting elected” business. That means that science funded by government will be required to comply with the wishes of the people providing the funds.

    Only those who benefit from the government largess argue to keep this unholy alliance alive. The whole issue is not about science but about scamming the taxpayers. All references to science in political debate are simply irrelevant smoke screens.

    A great example is the claimed “global cooling” of the 1970s, replaced by “global warming” of the 2000s, and now we have “climate change” because the cooling and warming never happened as the computer models predicted. Outlawing the use of the phrase “climate change” would be great because it would force those writing about such things to be precise. The climate is changing every minute so the term “climate change” is simply slippery demagoguery with no meaning. But slippery demagoguery is a favorite technique of Progressives so it is not a surprise when Progressives whine about criticism of their use of language.

    1. baffling

      ricardo, so who should fund basic science research? the coal industry? koch brothers? AEI and heritage? IBM and Microsoft? or do you believe basic science research is a waste of time and money?

      1. Jake fomerly of the LP

        Baffling- You may be sarcastic, but that really is the goal. Why do you think the Kochs run the economics department at Florida State and pay up for public TV? Here’s the tip- it isn’t because they believe in promoting the public good.

        Independent, reality-based research scares the daylights out of old-money corporatists who want to CONTROL IT ALL.

    2. dilbert dogbert

      “Science funded by government is not science. It is propaganda.”
      YES! Those moon landings were staged in a hanger somewhere at Groom Lake NV!!!! Anything from NASA is a lie!!! I ought to know as I worked there for 30 years.

      1. Ricardo


        If you don’t understand that NASA was a propaganda unit raising money to keep its people employed you are blind, or perhaps you were one of those sucking at the government …. well you know.

        1. baffling

          ricardo, where do you get your talking points, the little green men or the men in black suits?

    3. Robert Hurley

      Ricardo; what nonsense you spout. “Science funded by government is not science” science comes up with theories that are tested by data. You don’t like the data that contradicts your ideology so rather. Your inability to cite credible contradicting data forces you to make unprovable assertions

      1. Ricardo


        Your are a perfect government dupe. You believe that data reported by the government is exactly as the government reports it even if they hide the data as with “Global Warming.” They say “trust me” and you bend over.

  9. Patrick R. Sullivan

    What were you just claiming about a ‘one-sided moralistic, hyperbolic, view of the issue.’, Menzie?

    About how you were opposed to argument by anecdote?

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Patrick R. Sullivan: Do you see the difference between recounting one instance of a restaurant facing cost issues, and the owners bewailing their fate, and a blogpost with a quote from news articles which provides views from both sides, accompanied by links to other newspaper articles, to provide other insights? I suspect you don’t, but just to be explicit, one episode appeals to emotion on one side. The other provides quotes from government officials and outside commentators.

      Furthermore, none of the assertions are incorrect, as far as I can tell. This stands in stark contrast to your reign of error, which includes your error regarding depth of the downturn in Canada vs. US during the Great Depression. As you recall, you stated unequivocally:

      Canada … had a less severe depression than the USA.

      And this statement is wrong.

  10. Ricardo


    How is your universal food stamp program coming? Got any legislation yet? On your food stamp issue you might identify with the following.

    So we now find ourselves in a position where we spend $80 billion per year on the food stamp program, only have poverty by the official definition not budge at all, and the number of people feeling “food insecure” not budge at all. Actually, that was the whole idea — if the program dramatically reduced measured poverty and food insecurity, people might think that those problems had been solved, and the political support for continued spending increases could dry up. Still, you would think that these people would have some shame about their failure. How is it even conceivable that we spend $80 billion per year on a food-for-the-poor program that has exactly zero effect on reducing measured poverty and food insecurity? But if you think they would have some shame, you just don’t understand how government works. Francis Menton

    So I guess even if your idea of 100% of the country being on food stamps was put into place, we would still have “food insecurity.” But then is your 100% food stamp program actually about “food insecurity?”

  11. Ed Hanson


    How about some real information. What is the annual budget of the Bureau of Science Services? Without some actual numbers the debate is just a philosophical debate. And your position comes down to, without government there can be no science. Nonsense. Ricardo is right, science from government relies on the brand of “from the government” elevating its product as somehow superior. And that is propaganda.

    I suspect that in a varied and rich state such as Wisconsin, any necessary product coming from this Bureau can and would be created from other sources.


  12. Steven Kopits

    What is the difference between science and scientific politics? In science, one takes no political position, but gathers and reports data and the extent to which data conforms to or deviates from models or working hypotheses.

    But is this what climate change science, for example, has wrought? Rather than a frank discussion of the data and its limitations, we are treated to declarations that ‘the science is settled’. What scientist would say this, particularly in a matter as complex and uncertain as climate, and particularly when the incoming data are materially at odds with the incumbent models? Instead, I would expect to hear this from a scientist: “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” But do we hear that?

    Rather, we see the ongoing antics of James Hansen of NASA, who is both credited with doctoring the GISS temperature data set as well as being a vocal and visible advocate for climate change policies. This behavior was tolerated for perhaps 20 years, with it being most pronounced under the current Administration. Is NASA a political organization? Or it is a science organization? It appears in allowing Hansen free rein for so long, NASA has adopted its role as a political advocacy group. Should Republicans, who can disagree with NASA based on the climate data and incumbent models, therefore continue to fund NASA? Is NASA a science organization, or a political opponent of the Republican Party?

    Classical liberals like myself have warned egalitarians like you, Menzie, that playing fast and loose with the facts—including the shading, withholding, and mischaracterizing of data—will corrode not only one’s own credibility, but the credibility of the profession as a whole. And no one is more culpable in the matter than Paul Krugman, whose facile blending of analysis and advocacy has created that impression that economics is merely the quantitative arm of politics. All that learning and education to become an economist is nothing more than a veneer with which to coat pre-existing political views. To wit: How central is price to economic theory if we so easily jettison it in the cause of the minimum wage? It appears the very foundations of economics are nothing more than fluff when confronted with a political agenda. That is the lesson to take away.

    Thus, conservatives perceive—with some cause—that government-funded science agencies should be considered neither expert nor impartial, but rather as taxpayer-funded enemies of the Republican Party. Why, therefore, would it be a surprise that Republicans should seek to defund these entities?

    The more profound pity is that conservatives—many of whom are skeptical of government science to begin with—are forced to choose between the funding of one’s political opponents or eschewing scientific analysis. They are increasingly willing to do without, as your post so clearly shows.

    Like religion, when science enters politics, science will prove the ultimate loser.

    1. Ray Kondrasuk

      Steven Kopits April 9, 2015 at 9:31 am: Is NASA a science organization, or a political opponent of the Republican Party?

      Steven, by definition… NASA is a science organization and therefore a political opponent of the Republican Party.

      Recommended reading: Chris Mooney’s “The Republican Brain: The Science Behind Their Denial of Science… and of Reality”

      1. Steven Kopits

        Each of the three ideologies has an anti-scientific bias of some sort.

        Conservatives are loath to accept information or data which upsets established custom or norms, and particularly those which challenge the group identity. Science can challenge conservatism in three respects, I think. First, as I have discussed earlier, the unit of analysis for conservatism is the group. Loyalty to the group is both absolute and arbitrary (ie, are you a Yankee or a Red Sox fan?), and therefore not rational in its core. Science is not welcome in the discussion for the true believers of either side.

        Second, conservatism assigns rights and responsibilities principally through agency roles, eg, ‘mother’ or ‘father’. Information which affects these roles affects many people and therefore implies change and risk, and may therefore be resisted on this basis. Feminism, for example, challenges established roles for women, and therefore has traditionally be resisted by conservatives of both sexes.

        Further, conservatism necessarily must deal with the allocation of rights and rewards within the group, and this represents the interface between conservatism and liberalism. (Ah, to have retained Darrelle Revis for the Patriots!) Controlling the process of allocation and achieving a high rank in the group is key to survival and success, and therefore information which challenges the existing hierarchy is also undesirable. For example, internal whistle blowers are rarely held high esteem in the organization.

        Egalitarians have different problems. Here the unit of analysis (as for liberals) is the individual, with the difference being that for egalitarians the only individuals who count are the ones below the median in some respect, be that income, wealth, education, political power, or some kind of personal characteristic (sex, religion, sexual preference, ethnic origin, etc.) . The problem for egalitarians is that they have difficulty recognizing either the necessity of the group or the legitimacy of those above the median. Analysis tends to be static; dynamics aspects, as well as mechanical and logical linkages are essentially assumed away. Cost / benefit analysis tends be avoided, as such analysis does not discriminate in favor of any group (ie, it’s just looking for the highest return on capital invested, regardless of who benefits). Econometric analysis plays a large role in argumentation, and this permits the skirting of the issue of model an logical linkages.

        We can use some Menzie examples. For example, when for posts regarding Wisconsin policy, we will often see state-to-state statistical comparisons and discussion of the shortcomings of the Walker administration compared to early promises made by the governor. I am unaware, however, that we would see posts on the causes of shortcomings, an proposed remedies and anticipated impacts. We see no causal model of the problem presented.

        In the case of the minimum wage, see a treated to a number of econometric studies, of which there are many pro and contra. However, we do not ever see a frank admission that the burden of proof for a minimum wage policy falls to those who argue that price is not important in the allocation of labor. This is a high bar to jump over and requires a model, and not just econometrics. It is as though a physician told you that some studies suggest you should not vaccinate your children. One can make this argument, but it runs counter to long held views in medicine. Such advice should not be dispensed lightly. Trotting out some favorable econometric studies is not enough. The analysis must include both a causal model as well as a full analysis of cost / benefit aspects. As typical for egalitarians, the benefits are emphasized, the costs are suppressed, most notably because the costs are assumed to be borne by those above the median.

        Further, egalitarians will choose relative, over absolute, position, and the unit of analysis (the sub-median individual) over the group. Venezuela is a good example. Maduro is effectively destroying the Venezuelan economy in the name of egalitarianism. Notwithstanding, this is bad for even poor Venezuelans in absolute terms, but it does have the effect of reducing social inequality–everyone is doing poorly. Price controls are responsible for much of the chaos in Venezuela. We may ask why we therefore think price controls in the form of a minimum wage are a good idea in the US. In a qualitative sense, they are no different from Maduro’s policies. It is a matter of degree, but not of kind.

        By contrast, classical liberals love cost / benefit analysis. Such liberals (sometimes called libertarians) tend to be literal, with little respect for power and hierarchy, on the one hand, and social equality, on the other. In particular, liberals struggle with the concept of initial endowments, notably wealth, intelligence or social position. In general, the initial condition–whatever it is–is considered legitimate. Thus, if the Walton family inherited fabulous wealth through no effort of their own, well, that’s OK. Put another way, liberals tend to be forward-looking, with historical issues wished away.

        Like egalitarians, liberals struggle with the concept of the group. Thus, Rand Paul tends to want the US to pull out of foreign involvements, even though this may well put the US at risk down the line.

        Further, classical liberals may tolerate on paper greater inequality than they would in practice. One could call Medicare redistributive, but few classical liberals–when push comes to shove–could really stomach old people simply dying unattended for curable conditions. Nevertheless, liberals want to avoid these sorts of discussions as they are not easily amenable to cost / benefit analysis. The justification for such policies comes down to either social responsibility (conservatism) or some sense of basic equality (egalitarianism), neither of which fit easily into a liberal analytical framework.

        The three ideologies have survived for a very long time, certainly since the French Revolution, but I would guess you could find their traces in primate groups as well. They serve functional roles in society. These ideologies are not amenable to quantitative reconciliation and all three have persisted as a result. This implies that they must all be ‘anti-scientific’ in some sense. Conservatives have no monopoly on anti-scientific views. All ideologies are to an extent anti-scientific. It is the specific manifestation which varies from ideology to ideology.

  13. Zinsky

    Considering the dullard that the Cheeseheads have currently occupying the Governors mansion, this is hardly surprising. I’m guessing Walker, the college drop-out, can’t count to eleven without taking off his shoes. The man is dumber than a shovel. Watch him name someone to be court magician and have him publicly interpret chicken entrails, in an attempt to do long-range forecasting.

  14. tew

    There are biased bureaucrats in scientist’s clothing who will develop biased study frameworks and produce twisted analysis and reports of the results. But most of the science and research is well-done and fairly produced. Just because a system is imperfect is no valid reason to dismiss it.

    So there is no excuse for these kinds of blatant shoot-the-messenger political muscle moves. The Republicans who are shutting down these research programs and dictating terminology are hypocrites, because they (rightly) protest against academic institutions and their allies who are constantly trying to curb free speech, shoot down dissent, and intimidate those with non-orthodox (to them) views on college campuses, within government, and, if they can, broadly in society.

    But that’s just the problem. Intolerant people are squeezing the right to free speech, free expression, open and honest inquiry, and public discourse from both the left and the right.

    I say stand up to the thugs on both sides.

  15. Rick Stryker


    On your comment above:

    As the President said, elections have consequences. Walker is back in action, and he’s cutting budgets and taking names. You and a number of commenters seem be going through the stages of loss that everyone goes through when facing an inevitable budget cut. You still seem to be at stage 1 while others have moved on to stage 2:

    1) Denial–This isn’t possible. The budget can’t be cut since all expenses are forever fixed and absolutely necessary. Reorgs and efficiency gains can’t work.
    2) Anger–This is a GOP war on mathematics. The dullard occupying the governor’s mansion was elected by the cheeseheads and is dumber than a shovel. They want to cut the budget because they are all Climate Change Deniers!
    3) Bargaining–I should have worked harder for Mary Burke. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll redouble my efforts for Hillary. She’ll save us.
    4) Depression–I’m a much better person than everyone else and much smarter too. But that just doesn’t matter anymore with the conservatives in charge. Nothing matters. My life will never be the same after these budgets cuts.
    5) Acceptance–These budget cuts are going to happen. I’d better think about how to proactively engage with the Administration to make sure the cuts minimize the productivity loss.

    I’m just trying in my own small way to get you to stage 5 more quickly.

  16. dilbert dogbert

    Just cogitating. Is the defunding of the Bureau of Science Services part of a boarder effort to cut spending within the the Department of Natural Resources? Or is it a targeted cut to get rid of folks who are not producing propaganda in support of the Koch Bros? Smart folks cover their tracks in efforts like this by doing a general reorganization of the department.

  17. Rick Stryker


    In answer to your question above, here is one source, an interview Tiffany did with Wisconsin Public Radio in which he raises the issues I attributed to him: the antlerless deer hunt, DNR/BSS collaboration with Tom Fitz of Northland College, and value to the tax payer. Note that his perception of Fitz is “one of the most anti-mining zealots you’ll find in the State of Wisconsin (and) that they would use a person like that to do their so-called science, I think it does call into question some of the work that they do.”

    Fitz does not mention climate change. I’m sure if asked he’d say they shouldn’t be focused on that either but it’s not his main issue. In fact, his main issue seems to be about hunting, since he says “Well, I think when you talk to my constituents, they’re looking for opportunity, whether it’s fishing, hunting, whatever. That’s what they’re looking for. That’s what the Department should be focused on is offering more opportunity to those sportsmen out there. I think they sometimes get a little far afield in Bureau of Science Services in keeping their eye on the ball.” He then goes on: “So it’s important, I think, that the Department uses good science, but there’s scientific research that’s going on in a lot of different ways, including here in Wisconsin, especially with our Universities. And while it’s important, I’m not sure that Science Services has really done that part for the people of the State of Wisconsin in the Natural Resources Department.”

    So, this is no war on science. Tiffany is saying that the DNR should be providing very specific services to Wisconsin residents, such as making sure the deer hunt is good. The DNR should use sound science in making decisions, but that research could and should be done elsewhere. Tiffany also believes that the DNR has crossed the line into political advocacy by teaming up with people he perceives to be environmental zealots.

    That’s the image problem the BSS has and it’s quite counterproductive for its defenders to be talking about a war on science, which just reinforces the concerns of the detractors.

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