Maia Szalavitz

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Maia Szavalitz was a Fellow at the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) which was affiliated with the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).[1] Old links for STATS now redirect to Sense About Science USA.[2]

STATS promoted itself as a disinterested, non-partisan guardian of scientific and statistical integrity to often unsuspecting media outlets. In a review of a book written by STATS authors, Salon noted that the book was filled with "disingenuous maneuvers”. The review added, "It’s clear that while the authors are good at looking up articles in Lexis-Nexis, they aren’t playing straight with their readers . . . Their analyses and conclusions inevitably stack up in favor of the view that there are few environmental problems that less government spending won’t fix and that social dilemmas like racial discrimination are figments of overactive imagination. A fair review of the state of science journalism is always welcome, but this cleverly disguised example of corporate propaganda isn’t it."[3] In the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing wrote "the Center for Media and Public Affairs was set up with conservative foundation money in the mid-1980s as part of a growing effort by the right to portray the American press as liberal and out of touch with mainstream America."[4]

Reporters with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that STATS was a stealth defender of the chemical industry that did not disclose funders and was associated with Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) which had contracted with tobacco companies.[5] The journalists later won a George Polk Award for this reporting on chemicals.[6]

The Research Director for the Statistical Assessment Service was Rebecca Goldin. Goldin is also cited as "Research Director for the Genetic Literacy Project and Director of Research for the Statistical Assessment Service:."[7][8] Bloomberg and The Progressive have reported that lawyers suing Monsanto state in court documents that companies funnel money to the Genetic Literacy Project in order to "shame scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and other chemical producers.” [9][10]

In an investigation of Sense About Science USA, Liza Gross with The Intercept wrote, "Sense About Science does not always disclose when its sources on controversial matters are scientists with ties to the industries under examination."[11] Gross continued, "And the group is known to take positions that buck scientific consensus or dismiss emerging evidence of harm. When journalists rightly ask who sponsors research into the risks of, say, asbestos, or synthetic chemicals, they’d be well advised to question the evidence Sense About Science presents in these debates as well."[12]

Related Sourcewatch Pages

External Links

Article at STAT, linking Statistical Assessment Service with the Genetic Literacy Project and Sense About Science USA[13]

Desmog Blog, page on Statistical Assessment Service[14]

Trevor Butterworth and Sense About Science Spin Science for Industry[15]


  1. Statistical Assessment Service website, accessed through Wayback Machine,
  2. Paul D. Thacker, STAT, January 30, 2018
  3. David Appell, Salon, “It Ain’t Necessarily So” by David Murray, et al. JUL 2, 2001
  4. Michael Massing, "[ ‘The Enemy Within’: An Exchange ]," The New York Review of Books, February 9, 2006.
  5. Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 22, 2009
  6. Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times, FEB. 16, 2009 For Their Risk-Taking, Journalists Garner Polk Awards
  7. Rebecca Goldin, Genetic Literacy Project, February 4, 2013
  8. Rebecca Goldin, Genetic Literacy Project, June 24, 2013
  9. Peter Waldman, Bloomberg Businessweek, Does the World’s Top Weed Killer Cause Cancer? Trump’s EPA Will Decide, July 13, 2017
  10. Paul Thacker, The Progressive, July 21, 2017
  11. Liza Gross, SEEDING DOUBT How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industry, The Intercept, November 15, 2016
  12. Liza Gross, SEEDING DOUBT How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industry, The Intercept, November 15, 2016
  13. Paul D. Thacker, The pharmaceutical industry is no stranger to fake news, STAT, JANUARY 30, 2018
  14. Desmog Blog, Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), Accessed March 2018
  15. US Right to Know, Page on Trevor Butterworth, Accessed March 2018