“After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to father and said, “Science has now known sin.” And do you know what father said? He said, “What is Sin?”
~Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Economist just published an excellent article on the current miserable state of peer-reviewed, published science. (How Science Goes Wrong: Scientific Research Changed The World, Now It Needs To Change Itself). The article describes the peer-review process, whereby scientific knowledge becomes understood and available to the world.
Peer-review is even held to be the defining characteristic of science itself, the method by which science protects itself from fraud, and along with replicability of experiment, that which separates “science” from “religion”. The immediate ramifications of all the faulty and dishonest science produced by the current system are not fully addressed. But we are all victims of dishonest and inept science, including the institution of science itself.
Though science is ideally an unbiased search for truth, scientists themselves seem as willing as anyone else to subvert the truth regarding their science (typically by making up ‘data’ from ‘experiments’) if they can get a little extra cash in the deal. Chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Cargill and Syngenta have lots of cash that somehow finds it’s way into these ‘science’ grant funds and laboratories.
Because ‘science’ has a such a strong association with ‘truth’, imagine the power you could gain if you showed people ‘science’ that was faked, that was intentionally skewed- that was in essence, a lie? And that lie said that the product that you were selling was healthy when it wasn’t. That lie would give the liar a better position to profit, would it not? What if you were told that DDT was good for you, based on ‘sound science’? Or that smoking was good for you, based on the opinion of scientists?
A lot of research is done in academic settings that are supposed to be independent of the profit motive, in effect a pure search for truth. But that is often not the case. “Universities offer ‘independent’ advice to governments while taking corporate money for ‘research’. Corporations offer that money to universities, not for the knowledge it generates, but primarily for the influence it buys” states a recent article in Opensource that investigates the troubling control of academic science by scientists and the corporations employing them, and the subsequent control of ‘independent’ scientific journals. Read more here: “The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart Of Science”. The author, Claire Robinson, comes to some of the same conclusions as that given by The Economist.
Of course scientists often make mistakes, and can simply misinterpret the data from an experiment, or be subject to an unconscious bias toward a certain result. After all, scientists are only human, right? That is why in the early days of the modern era of Science, practioners insisted on adopting what is called the “Precautionary Principle”, which states: “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.”
What happens when the precautionary principle is not used? Let’s take a quick stroll through a “scientific hall of shame” that often results, shall we? It might be titled “Where The Precautionary Principle Was Ignored, or When Science Just Plain Goes Wrong”.
All the following exhibits show what once was believed to be truth and fact to men of science. We start with the well-known catastrophe of bloodletting, whereby George Washington lost his life for a common cold.
Let’s take a moment to linger in the smoking exhibit, and remember the large numbers of physicians who publicly endorsed cigarette smoking as a healthy habit, right up until the 1960’s, when they became the first group to quit in large numbers. In fact, phony science is now often called ‘tobacco science’, since large numbers of scientists stood by the ‘smoking is healthy’ claim for many decades.
We come to the horrifying but once-common practice of prescribing calomel, (mercury) to women for almost any complaint, which led to large numbers of American women walking the streets like spectres in the mid-to-late 1800’s.
Remember Thalidomide? How many severely deformed children were born for that scientific ‘mistake’ that initially generated huge profits for the drug companies? This exhibit is so traumatizing, children are not allowed to view it, and it stands behind curtains.
Testicular injection is a more light-hearted exhibit to linger in, whereby we learn that testicle matter from animals was injected into men in the early 1900’s in an effort to reverse aging. Ha Ha, nice try though!
Thyroid radiation is another exhibit in our hall, whereby men of science routinely radiated children’s thyroid glands in the belief that this would somehow help them. Whoopsie!! Apparently they also radiated earache, acne, tonsils, adenoids, birthmark, mumps and fungus! OOOPS, sorry about that.
As we pass the estrogen replacement/breast cancer exhibit, the lead paint disaster and the Vioxx back pain/heart attack fiasco memorial, a very extensive tableau about Nuclear Energy and the Fukushima Catastrophe we finally find:
The Gentically Modified food section, wherein we see that Genetically Modified (in the lab) foods were advertised as more nutritious, needing less water to grow and as even being more productive, creating more food per acre than ordinary plants, and conveniently being just what we desperately need to feed the world, all the while reducing toxic pesticide use! (A picture of Bono from U2 and Bill Gates, supposedly the worlds richest man, accompanies this exhibit under the heading ‘GMO cheerleaders’). Of course it has now been discovered that not only were none of those claims true, but in fact GMO food can create inflammatory allergic reactions in those eating them that lead to almost any major chronic disease, even ADHD and obesity and cancer and mental illness, all of which skyrocketed during their period of use. This GMO exhibit stands next to the one for glyphosate, the GMO-based herbicide (Monsanto’s RoundUp®) wherein we find that it was shown by men of science as a very safe pesticide, only later after billions of pounds of it had been dumped on our food, did ‘they’ discover that it caused birth defects, nutritional deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, soil death and was even neurotoxic. Dang! Sorry guys! What is the precautionary principle anyway?
What is truly astonishing in this exhibit is that the people of America were even prevented from knowing when GMO food was in their lunch because it was not required to be labeled. Thus many who had discovered the dangers of this laboratory food were still injured by it.
Boycott GMOs. Get them labeled. Fight with your fork!