Federal Officials and Scientists Respond to Purported CDC Word Ban

The alleged ban prohibits officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using a list of seven words in agency budget documents. 

By Katarina Zimmer | December 18, 2017

CDC′s Tom Harkin Global Communications Center in Atlanta, Georgia WIKIMEDIA, JAMES GATHANY At a 2018 budget meeting last Thursday (December 14), officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were told by senior agency officials that they were prohibited from using a list of seven words or phrases in budget documents. The list included the terms “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based,” according to a report by The Washington Post.

The news quickly sparked outrage among scientists, who expressed concern that the CDC’s work is being politicized. Federal officials have weighed in on the discussion, pushing back against the notion that the alleged ban is explicit.

“I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs,” Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, tweeted on Sunday.

Fitzgerald’s tweet elicited a heated debate in some 900 comments by Twitter users, many of which ask for further explanation or demand that she tweet the prohibited words to demonstrate that they are not banned.

It is still unclear whether the alleged ban applies beyond budget documents and whether it stemmed from the CDC itself or its parent department, Health and Human Services (HHS), The New York Times notes.

“The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a mischaracterization of the discussions regarding the formulation process,” Matt Lloyd, a spokesperson for HHS, says in a statement sent to STAT News. “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

Several CDC officials tell The New York Times that the proposal was not an explicit ban on the use of certain words, but rather guidance in order to increase the likelihood that the budget would be approved by Republicans. “It’s absurd and Orwellian, it’s stupid and Orwellian, but they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or anything else the CDC does,” an anonymous official says. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. It’s not about censoring what CDC can say to the American public. It’s about a budget strategy to get funded.”

An anonymous analyst who participated in the meeting tells The Washington Post that for some terms, alternatives were suggested. For instance, in lieu of using the phrase “science-based,” officials could say, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

Regardless of whether the ban is explicit or indirect, scientists are concerned about the potential implications of the ban and that it is in line with previous moves made by the Trump Administration perceived as scientific censorship. For instance, HHS removed questions about gender identity and sexual orientation from an annual survey of elderly people in March, and the State Department removed LGBTQ content from its website in January.

“Whether this is a directive from above is not clear,’’ former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy tells The New York Times. “But for CDC or any agency to be censored or passively made to feel they have to self-censor to avoid retribution—that’s dangerous and not acceptable. The purpose of science is to search for truth, and when science is censored the truth is censored.”

See “The Year in Science Policy

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Avatar of: Mike Holloway

Mike Holloway

Posts: 29

December 18, 2017

So in other words, we finally have public acknowledgement that the decades old problem of the Republican war on science, something the majority has refused to acknowledge, is, in fact, a problem.  This could have been avoided by decoupling science from the culture wars, but that would have required the silent majority getting between the extremes of a fight that majority didn't understand and desperately wanted to ignore.  Now we see that the chickens are coming home to roost.  Its still not too late.  Take the bull horn away from the atheist culture warriors and start explaining that science isn't a conspiracy to threaten religion.

Avatar of: JonRichfield


Posts: 139

December 18, 2017

OK OK OK, so they don't ban any words as long as no one uses them or something; the mere fact that it may not have been explicit, or that it was a a mischaracterization of the discussions regarding the formulation process is not sufficient.

If the powers that be do not explicitly repudiate any strictures on wording that is suitably literate, comprehensible, and appropriate to the sense of the publication, they compound the offence.

Avatar of: littlefooch


Posts: 1

December 18, 2017

This is patently absurd by the government; what's next book burning?

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

December 18, 2017

Workshop on Quantum Effects in Biological Systems

has established itself as an outstanding stage to present the research in the intersection of physics, chemistry and biology. This field has... established excitons in biology as the “must-talk-language” when describing the quantum effects in biological light-harvesting systems.

The CDC has failed to link light-harvesting in biological systems from excitons to protection of organized genoemes from the virus-driven degradation of messenger RNA in species from bacteria to humans.

Trump is again being compared to Hitler because of what the biologically uninformed masses perceive to be censorship.

The CDC censorship of works published by serious scientists who have linked physics, chemistry and biology to heathy longevity via the anti-entropic energy-dependent creation of RNA and enzymes has nearly bankrupted the USA due to the costs of health care.

What other countries base their healthcare policies on the theories of neo-Darwinists and "Big  Bang" cosmologists?

Avatar of: dmarciani


Posts: 70

December 18, 2017

Being an older scientist that is not wet behind the ears, I am surprise about the reaction to some unconfirmed news. Of course, the press is asking for the opinion of the past administration’s people, but that is the equivalent of asking the opinion of Europeans circa year 1400 about the Jewish people. I am not a cheerleader for the President, but, in decades I have never seen the hysteria affecting the US. Advice to all of those suffering from political reality, the way to change things is by electing good people. Present to the US people acceptable alternatives, not extremists that are themselves another flavor of the so called deplorables. FYI, I am not a caveman, I do not believe in intolerance or in trying to impose on others your points of view and believes. I am for women’s rights and different from many I am not buying that idiocy that males are better suited for mathematics and other nonsense. Finally, it seems that The Scientist has been highjacked by people that believes that science is fighting Republicans and promoting liberal ideas, right or wrong. For those that were not even born then, most of the advances in medicine and biology occurred during the war of cancer that President Richard Nixon initiated and supported.  

Avatar of: jtrott


Posts: 10

Replied to a comment from dmarciani made on December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Yes, but unfortunately this current administration, which is fully supported by the majority Republicans, isn't posing war on cancer but war on science, war on clean air, war on clean water, war on national monuments, war on journalists, war on reality, war on truth, war on LGBTQ, war on transgenders, war on women's rights and possibly war on North Korea and a nuclear holocost.  In this time of chaos, it's understandable that people are getting hysterical. They don't feel safe.  People definitely need to step up and vote and elect representatives who truly represent them and their beliefs.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

Replied to a comment from JonRichfield made on December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

What was the offense? See: Energy as information and constrained endogenous RNA interference

Feedback loops link quantized energy as information to biophysically constrained RNA-mediated protein folding chemistry. Light induced energy-dependent changes link angstroms to ecosystems from classical physics to chemistry/chirality and to molecular epigenetics/autophagy. The National Microbiome Initiative links microbial quorum sensing to the physiology of reproduction via endogenous RNA interference and chromosomal rearrangements. The rearrangements link energy-dependent fixed amino acid substitutions to the Precision Medicine Initiative via genome wide inferences of natural selection. This detailed representation of energy-dependent natural selection for codon optimality links biologically- based cause and effect from G protein-coupled receptors to RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions and the functional structure of supercoiled DNA. Energy-dependent polycombic ecological adaptations are manifested in supercoiled DNA. Chromosomal inheritance links the adaptations from morphological phenotypes to healthy longevity via behavioral phenotypes. For contrast, virus-driven energy theft is the link from messenger RNA degradation to negative supercoiling, constraint breaking mutations, and hecatombic evolution. The viral hecatomb links transgenerational epigenetic inheritance from archaea to Zika virus-damaged DNA, which typically is repaired by endogenous RNA interference and fixation of RNA-mediated amino acid substitutions in organized genomes.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

Replied to a comment from jtrott made on December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

Canada won the war against the LGBTQ and trangendered nonsense agenda two years ago. Did you not get the memo?

Infamous Reparative Therapy Clinic For Transgender Youth Set To Close

This move also stopped James Cantor from promoting pedophilia as a form of sexual orientation. Simply put, you do not get to have a Precision Medicine Initiative and/or a National Microbiome Initiative if you cannot link food energy-dependent changes in base pairs to all biodiversity, which is what serious scientists did with publication of Structural diversity of supercoiled DNA

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

Replied to a comment from dmarciani made on December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017

It may also be worthwhile to remember that A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (1914) linked the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN to Hitler's eugenics despite publication of the 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Arrowsmith." Sinclair Lewis presciently linked our innate anti-phage defense mechanism to all biologically based biodiversity via what is now known about the pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction and autophagy.  

Researchers from Israel and China have since linked food odors and pheromones from feedback loops (three cheers for serious scientists in the USA) to all biophysically-constrained viral latency in the context of our visual perception of mass and energy. Somewhere along the way, funding for the CDC led the bastardization of all claims made by all serious scientists. That caused the failure of the CDC to link the virus-driven degradation of messenger RNA to all pathology.

How long did you think Trump would wait to start draining the academic swamp?

Avatar of: Agilemind


Posts: 9

December 19, 2017

James V. Kohl Please stop spouting science-babble nonsense you don't actually understand.

All life requires mRNA and enzyme synthesis.

Quantum effects in photosynthesis is completely irrelevant to the effects of viral infections.

Phermones have nothing to do with latent infections.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

Replied to a comment from Agilemind made on December 19, 2017

December 19, 2017

Pheromones biophysically constrain viral latency. That fact was established in the context of food energy-dependent reproduction in 1994.

Pheromonal Regulation of Genetic Processes: Research on the House Mouse (Mus musculus L.)

My publication history began in 1995, but see for comparison: Feedback loops link odor and pheromone signaling with reproduction (2005)

Whose model of energy-dependent enzyme biosynthesis and the creation of mRNA do you believe in for comparison? I believed Bruce McEwen when he told me to start my model with gene activation of GnRH-secreting neurons in the human hypothalamus.

See: Dependence of RNA synthesis in isolated thymus nuclei on glycolysis, oxidative carbohydrate catabolism and a type of “oxidative phosphorylation” (1964)

The synthesis of RNA in isolated thymus nuclei is ATP dependent.

What have you published for comparison?

Avatar of: aaaaaaaaaa


Posts: 3

December 19, 2017

"CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes"

I believe that to be wrong; the CDC should base its conclusions entirely on science; politicians can then also take community wishes into account. If the community wishes black to be white, then the politicians can support that view. But the CDC should be led by what the sientific evidence suggests to be true.


Avatar of: Howard A. Doughty

Howard A. Doughty

Posts: 10

December 20, 2017

Whether in the form of an outright ban (censorship) or a guideline (obey if you know what's good for you ... and your research budget), the effect is the same.

The current government of the United States is on record (and in the twitterverse) as being at least sceptical and often hostile to those parts of scientific research that do not accord with its social and religious "values."

Hence, everything from reproductive rights to biological evolution is a target for Mr. Trump, the religious right and others. This affects not only research, but also public policy, public service delivery and education from Junior Kindergarten to post-doc research supervision.

And, of course, anything having to do with the environment, global warming/climate change, the petroleum lobby, agricultural chemicals, etc., etc., etc. has risen to the top levels on the GOP "science-based" hit list.

Drawing and imaginary line between a "ban" and a "guideline" is not persuasive. Science has always kindled fires of controversy, whether from Galileo, Darwin, Einstein or Hubble, etc. Rarely, however, has a US government been as outspoken in its promotion of (dare I say it?) "fake science" or just simple superstition and ignorance.

Let the madness end ... which, by the way, it won't if left unchallenged. Criticism and relentless interrogation of the authorities who pander to the worst elements in the electorate for political advantage and financial gain are now high priorities for the scientific community.

December 24, 2017

I am not suprised at the newspeak from CDC. It was there when I worked at CDC back in the 70s. The politicals have controlled what can cannot be released including words that are politicaly allowed and whatever I would write would be sanitized by the editorial people who would change the work to satisfy the Orwellian controllers to satisfy the rulers of the " scribe class" in Washington. If one would protest one would lose your job.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

December 25, 2017

Just when you thought eugenics couldn’t get any worse

"...it wasn’t the first time humans had assessed other humans using random metrics and criteria thought to be scientific; such practices... would later be employed by the Nazis to determine who lived or died."

When CDC funding docs recommended against random metrics that were used in claims about "science-based and/or " "evidence-based" et al., the "fake news"  linked accusations of censorship to the Trump administration adn President Trump was compared to Hitler. Clearly, the lunatics are running the asylum.

Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

Replied to a comment from Gerald F. Slonka, MD made on December 24, 2017

December 25, 2017

Does this explain why the discovery of the death gene at Abcam was not reported until 2 decades later as: Reduced expression of brain-enriched microRNAs in glioblastomas permits targeted regulation of a cell death gene

Also, does someone want John McCain to die a horrible death from the virus-driven degradation of his messenger RNA after Jimmy Carter was cured.

Who do you think is deciding whether or not to release information in terms that the masses of scientifically illiterate theorists can understand?

If you tell them it's science-based or evidence-based, they are likely to believe you.

That's where some MDs and academics have serious scientists at a disadvantage. Pseudoscientists have staked a false claim to science, and most people have not yet learned that the pseudoscientists are liars. The Trump administration will change that, starting with the CDC.



Avatar of: James V. Kohl

James V. Kohl

Posts: 531

December 25, 2017

"...everything from reproductive rights to biological evolution is a target for Mr. Trump, the religious right and others."

See: Eight Kinetically Stable but Thermodynamically Activated Molecules that Power Cell Metabolism

Tell us what you believe about the young earth creationist's approach to all biophysically constrained viral latency and all biodiversity. Like Schrodinger (1944), they start with the creation of the anti-entropic virucidal energy of sunlight.

Are you claiming they are wrong? Who or what activated your kinetic stability and how did the gene activation lead you to tout pseudoscientific nonsense?


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