Academic fraud, retaliation, and science denial

Posted: April 1, 2011 in education, fire, for, foundation, in, libertarian, magazine, reason, reason.com, reason.org, reason.tv

When Dwayne Whitney started his trucking business decades ago he had only one truck. Today he has eighteen and 20 employees. But that’s about to change.

“The State of California says my trucks are killing people,” says Whitney. “What do you say to that?”

In a few years, new air quality regulations approved by the California Air Resources Board will render Whitney’s entire fleet illegal.

“New CARB rules are putting me out of business,” he says.

CARB claims that diesel particulates, a type of pollution emitted from buses and trucks, contributes to 2,000 premature deaths in California each year. But UCLA epidemiologist Dr. James Enstrom says the number should be closer to zero.

In 2005 Enstrom authored an extensive study that found no relationship between diesel particulates and premature deaths. He says his study, as well as other evidence that agrees with it, have been ignored by an agency bent on passing ever more stringent regulations regardless of their effect on California’s economy.

Enstrom blew the whistle on CARB for, among other things, failing to publicize that the lead author of the study that was used to justify the new regulations falsified his education history (he purchased his PhD from an online diploma mill).

But UCLA didn’t come to Enstrom’s defense. In fact, officials informed him that, after 34 years at the university, he was out of a job.

“The environmental regulation machine in powerful in California,” says Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is defending Enstrom in the fight to keep his job. “When Dr. Enstrom went up against that machine he was retaliated against.”

A hearing that begins on April 4 will determine whether Dr. Enstrom keeps his job, and the final decision rests with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Says Kissel, “If Dr. Enstrom loses his job because he exercised his academic freedom, then it’s a message to other researchers that you’d better not rock the boat because you might be next.”

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