Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Petition Signing: Re-Opening the Office of Technology Assessment

By Bart Leahy | Rhetoric and Rockets blog | June 28, 2008

Mr. Leahy has a new post all about the OTA. In it, he mentions the work of the Science Cheerleader and her efforts to bring back OTA with input from the public. He goes on to mention a number of OTA reports of personal interest, and then discusses his own ideas about OTA.

Mrs. Booth and Desk Top Publishing

Bloggie Doggie Blog | June 27, 2008

The author discusses methods of communication in schools and considers how people might communicate in the future. In the post, this 1990 OTA report, Critical Connections: Communication for the Future, is mentioned.

J. Craig Venter Institute Names Robert Friedman, Ph.D., Deputy Director of West Coast Facility

Venter Institute Press Release | | June 26, 2008

“The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit genomic research organization, today announced that Robert Friedman, Ph.D., has been named the new Deputy Director of the JCVI La Jolla, California facility…Prior to joining JCVI, Friedman was Vice President for Research at The Heinz Center, a nonprofit environmental policy research organization. Earlier he was a Senior Associate at the Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress (OTA) where he advised Congressional committees on environmental and natural resources policy.”

What’s the deadliest natural phenomenon?, recently cross-posted by the Tehran Times and Gaia Spirit Blog

This article, part of the Life’s Little Mysteries section of, describes the hazards of natural disasters. This was apparently written in July of 2007 and has just recently been posted by others (perhaps people interested in the recent floods in the U.S. Midwest). In the article, this 1993 OTA report, Preparing for an Uncertain Climate- Volume 1, is cited and quoted as follows, “despite recent efforts, vulnerability to flood damages is likely to continue to grow”.

Bioterrorism: Anthrax and Biotech Companies

By Ketan Desai | | June 17, 2008

Dr. Desai provides some medical information about anthrax and then lists the leading treatment options for an anthrax infection. In the second part of the article, he gives some financial information about the major biotech companies involved in anthrax countermeasure development. In his description of the anthrax threat, he quotes from this 1993 OTA report, “Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” that says, “(OTA) estimated that 130,000 to 3 million deaths could occur following the release of 100 kilograms of aerosolized anthrax over Washington, DC.”

While this quote is accurate, it is important to keep in mind the caveat that this type of attack would involve “single airplane-loads of…biological weapons, assuming a highly efficient line-source delivery” and that “fatalities could vary greatly under three different weather scenarios”.

Ok Skeptics: What’s Next? Immodest Proposals For Political Activism

The Bad Idea Blog | June 15, 2008

The author discusses specific policy issues that might unite skeptics. Before launching into an extended discussion of education policy, he puts in a endorsement of the OTA, “I think most of us could, for instance, get behind a proposal to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which used to helpfully advise Congress on all sorts of complex scientific issues that Congressman and their staffs, rarely have much depth of knowledge about.”