The sole witness called by the committee's Democrats was a science historian who studies the way that corporate lobbyists distort science policy. The GOP called no scientists.
Oreskes didn't directly wade into any of those issues. Instead, she took a different tack. "Witnesses here today are trying to cast doubt on environmental science, arguing that is politically driven, and we should not be using it to make important decisions," she stated in her testimony. "As a guest of the democratic minority, I might be expected to attempt to refute the premise and argue that the science under consideration is not politically driven."
"What I want to do is slightly different. I want to challenge the presumption that politically-driven science is bad science. That presumption—while widely held—is demonstrably false. … Some of the best and most famous science in the history of our country was driven by goals that were explicitly political."
Oreskes went on to describe how work like the Manhattan Project, which built the first atom bomb, the Apollo space missions, and plate tectonics research had all been done by federal scientists driven by inherently political goals. And she portrayed the government peer-review process as, in some ways, more stringent and open to different voices than academic science.
Oreskes noted that scientists are human, too. "Maybe mistakes were made at places like Drakes. Maybe someone did miscount cranes," she said. "These things happen. Science isn't perfect, but that's why we have peer review."
Democrats at the hearing, for their part, were having a hard time stomaching what they saw as an irony. "This hearing purports to be about insuring scientific accountability and accuracy," said Representative Jared Huffman (D–CA). "And, I have to say, that is a tough sell, given the majority party's consistent record of attacking government science and underfunding science and research and frankly of flouting science especially when it comes to our climate and our environment."
House panel holds hearing on 'politically driven science'—sans scientists [Emily DeMarco/Science]