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Potential Science Advisor Backs Limits on Speaking Out

William Happer, who is thought to be in the running to be President Donald Trump's science advisor, is in favor of clamping down on federal researchers' ability to discuss their findings, the Guardian reports. In addition, the paper notes that while Happer, a physicist at Princeton University, is well regarded, he has likened climate scientists to cult members.

According to the Guardian, Happer supports a bill introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the House science committee, that would require federal agencies publish any raw data that's used to develop new regulations and for outside experts to examine new findings before they can be announced. Critics of the proposal say that this would hamper agencies' regulatory abilities and independence, the Guardian adds.

Happer tells the Guardian that "government science [needs] to be especially clean and without fault." He also argues that conflicting messages on issues like whether margarine or butter is better has led people to dismiss all public health information. "So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don't listen," he tells the Guardian. "The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts — real facts."

Happer met with Trump about the post last month, it adds. Others rumored to be under consideration for the position include Yale University's David Gerlenter, NantWorks CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong, and former NIH director Elias Zerhouni.