So we have come to the point in this administration where they are asking the CDC to remove and omit words that are deemed too controversial. As if attacking the press and repealing net neutrality was not enough, this administration is doing all they can to eliminate people. Two days ago, policy analysts at the CDC, Center for Disease Control, were told that they could not use the words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in their upcoming budget proposal reports for 2018. Alternative word choices were presented, such as “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” instead of using the words “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Members of the CDC responded with anger of course, and Matt Lloyd, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, stated “The HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans,” and “HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”
Five of the seven words are all words used to describe and discuss marginalized populations: people of color, women, children, the poor, and LGBTQ individuals. Banning the words “evidence-based” and “science-based” is a direct attack to the science community by an administration that has aligned themselves with Evangelicals and climate change deniers. The proposed ban of these words drastically limits the work scientists can do and hampers the research that can be garnered from these words.
For example, a researcher may want to study the effect of Zika on developing fetuses, they need to be able to use the word “fetus” in their research. Their budget proposal will be denied because of their use of the banned word. This denial prevents the researcher from getting funding for the research, which will negatively impact pregnant women and their unborn children who may have been exposed to Zika.
For each of the seven words, you can think of a scenario where banning the word from research would have damaging effects. If we enter a world where research can be stopped or denied funding because researchers are using words this administration finds “controversial” we are in very dark days.
As the year ends, we are faced with more problems than we have solutions for. What will research look like if this word ban is put in place? How much will marginalized people and communities suffer because of this ban? What is it that we can do to stop this mess?
11 months in with this administration and I am concerned for the future. I know everyone is waiting on Robert Mueller’s investigation and the 2018 midterm elections, but so much is going on and who knows what will happen next.