Is Our EPA Chief Stupid or Evil?

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In most studies of new drugs, half the patients are given the experimental drug and the other half are given a placebo. It’s a “blinded” study because the patients don’t know which they’ve been given. In a double-blinded study, the doctors don’t know either. Andrew Wheeler, head of the EPA, is a wee bit confused about this:

FDA routinely uses the double-blind scientific studies for their work where they have two teams of researchers replicating the same data, both teams don’t know each other exist and where they are. We don’t do that at the agency, we don’t do that across the entire federal government. I’ve believed for a long time that federal research would be more accepted by the public if you used the double-blind standard for everything.

Is Wheeler really this dumb, or was this deliberate? Trump’s EPA has been pushing the idea that we should have a “red-team-blue-team” approach to studying climate change, where the red team would be made up of skeptics. By pretending that this is what researchers mean by a double-blinded study, Wheeler is making it seem as if this approach would be nothing more than adopting best practices for scientific work. In reality, it’s just an excuse to put together a team of cranks on the taxpayer’s dime.

This is the latest example of “stupid or evil?” As always, it could be either. Or both. But this time I’m guessing evil. Wheeler’s “mistake” is a little too pat and a little too redolent of his mentor, Sen. James Inhofe, Congress’s lead climate change denier. His old boss must be proud.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate