Distorting Science for Profit and for Fun

Science Studies have long done away with naive ideas about neutrality and objectivity in science, showing through detailed case studies the much messier nature of the scientific enterprise

Nevertheless, the daily run of the mill routine operation of science cannot and must not be mistaken for the deliberate, massive distortion of procedure done with the intent of either de-stabilizing perfectly reasonable scientific consensus, or affirming a solid scientific base where none exists.

Although many agents may incur in this kind of deplorable exercise, more often than not there are powerful economic interests involved in such deliberate distortions.

Two recent examples of the consequences of this kind of interference caught my eye.

The first is a discussion on how the concentration of incentives in one specific area may produce “bubbles” in science, analogous to those in the economy, and presumably with the same dire consequences: Research funding has become prone to bubble formation.

The second is a Canadian report that brings to light some of the most nefarious consequences of industry-university partnerships, namely, the loss of something that is at the very core of science, the freedom of inquiry: Industry Funds Limit Freedom: Report.

It is unnecessary to stress the corrosive effects for this state of affairs to science and its standing in society, any such situation should be vigorously denounced; this is not business as usual, but a mobster takeover.

There is a considerable literature for that discussion, among which I’d recommend in special the following:

McGarity, T. D., & Wagner, W. E. (2010) Bending science: how special interests corrupt public health research. Cambridge, Mass. & London, UK: Harvard University Press.

Michaels, D. (2008) Doubt is their product: how industry’s assault on science threatens your health. Oxford, New York:Oxford University Press.

Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2010) Merchants of doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Rampton, S. & Stauber, R. (2001) Trust us, we’re experts: how industry manipulates science and gambles with your future. New York:Penguin Putnam.

UPDATE:  This video demonstrates such issues very graphically Рhttp://www.upworthy.com/someone-put-2-examples-of-anti-science-politics-side-by-side-the-results-are-damning

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