The War on Science tick tick Boom

labrea_gwFebruary 19, 2012

"Attacks paid for by big business are 'driving science into a dark era"

"Last week Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), broke ranks in a spectacular manner."

"She confessed that she was now "scared to death" by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world."

It's an era of )fundationism( funded anti science or pseudo science & attacks on College professors & their research. Funded by corporations who have an interest to keep things to their liking.

(please read the link otherwise it will just be another muddy post)

When an idea gets confuse with a term when people understand technical words with technical definitions to mean whatever floats into their heads is fertile ground for this war.

A hypothesis is an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation. A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it's an accepted hypothesis.

A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.

Example: Consider Newton's Law of Gravity. Newton could use this law to predict the behavior of a dropped object, but he couldn't explain why it happened.

Common response "well I think"

Here is a link that might be useful: Fundationism

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Hey Joe we need just one more thread with "war" in the title and we are set for the day.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 9:48AM
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The OP mentions another report presented at the Vancouver conference, "Heads They Win, Tails We Lose: How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense" - the abstract is at this link, with an embedded link to the full article


"Methods of Abuse
The report describes five basic methods that corporations use to influence the scientific and policy-making processes:

Corrupting the Science. Corporations suppress research, intimidate scientists, manipulate study designs, ghostwrite scientific articles, and selectively publish results that suit their interests.

Shaping Public Perception. Private interests downplay evidence, exaggerate uncertainty, vilify scientists, hide behind front groups, and feed the media slanted news stories.

Restricting Agency Effectiveness. Companies attack the science behind agency policy, hinder the regulatory process, corrupt advisory panels, exploit the "revolving door" between corporate and government employment, censor scientists, and withhold information from the public.

Influencing Congress. By spending billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions, corporate interests gain undue access to members of Congress, encouraging them to challenge scientific consensus, delay action on critical problems, and shape the use of science in policy making.

Exploiting Judicial Pathways. Corporate interests have expanded their influence on the judicial system, used the courts to undermine science, and exploited judicial processes to bully and silence scientists."

They give plenty of concrete examples of how research is being silenced / twisted - Suppressing Research:
Hog Farm Emissions
After pork producers contacted his supervisors, a USDA microbiologist was prevented from publishing research showing that emissions from industrial hog farms contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Corrupting Advisory Panels:
Childhood Lead Poisoning
A few weeks before a CDC advisory panel met to discuss revising federal lead standards, two scientists with ties to the lead industry were added to the panel. The committee voted against tightening the standards.

Ghostwriting Articles:
The Pharmaceutical Industry
A 2011 analysis found evidence of corporate authorship in research articles on a variety of drugs, including Avandia, Paxil, Tylenol, and Vioxx.

For more examples, visit our A-to-Z Guide to Political Interference in Science, which is at the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to list of examples of political/corporate attacks on science

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 10:01AM
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Before I even read the linked article, Ink, I want to remind you that there are distinct differences between the ideas uttered after the preamble "well, I think..." depending upon who utters said preamble... and now, I will go read...


The answer is too simple... follow the money, from whence it originates, to who's hands it ends up in.

Without ethics, honesty, and the want to let the public in on the truth from those in positions of wealth, power, or positions of knowledge and science... how are we, the public, to believe what's true... unless we actually think independently of the media spewing at us 24/7, and we open our minds to the possibility that there is more than one conclusion to be drawn?

It's really quite simple... if we want the answers to something, we have to do the work, or research, to find the truth ourselves. We can't rely on one source. We have to be willing to expend a little time and effort to look at issues from all angles, to gather what we can find on the issue, and pore over it letting cognitive thought and rationale be our guides. We must consider what sounds logical, and add common sense.

Too many industries are lobbying hard to keep certain truths hidden. It all goes back to who stands to profit from which end results/answers. Corruption turns up where you would least expect it. Professions we once thought of as honest and ethical are now, sometimes, taking payoffs to reach certain conclusions, or hide negative results.

I ran into a situation exactly like this only yesterday... someone sent me an article... or rather, bits and pieces of copied articles... thinking I would just take what they had shown me at face value. But there was obvious misinformation, misdirection, and contradiction within the first 3 paragraphs... apparent to me by what I already know about the subject.

Through simple research, I found the real answers in under 5 minutes. I looked at the issue from both sides, comparing information... included several variants... followed links that showed me who had something to gain, and who didn't... and there it was, the truth.

It occurs to me that there are two different mindsets or types at work within the public... those that are open to the new and the different, and have certain skill sets of problem solving and cognitive thought. Included are skepticism, common sense, integrity, and several other characteristics.

And then there are those that appear happier in blissful ignorance. They read and listen, and believe. Why do the work when it's already been done and written so nicely for them? Why would anyone lie, they think, while reading and seeing everything through rose-colored glasses?

And those that feed the information hope the audience is one of blissful ignorance. It serves their purpose well... one of gain.

Religion plays a large part in, I believe, the early formation of our thinking processes... how we intake information and what our brains do with it.

I'm sure there's a much deeper, more scientific answer for your questions, Ink... but simply put, I see it as a very wide and varied fight to keep greed running ahead of the pack... even paying for the answers they want... while keeping the general public in a state of constant chaotic, yet somewhat blissful ignorance.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 10:59AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Corporate and political interference in matters of science is not new but never practiced at this scale and in such an anti-science environment. Back in my day of ag research, trials of miracle rice and herbicides where conduced with the best techniques available at the time. I wrote a summary report and sent it up to the Ministerio de Agricultura as per contract. Later I happened to be talking to a ag chem purveyor who lamented at the poor results of his company's herbicide and how happy was the "winner", a German chemical company. I was stunned because the herbicides from the German company were among the poorest performers. In fact, the "winning" herbicide was one with the most phytotoxic effects on rice.

My complaints to the Ministry just got me into trouble with P.I.P, the political police, a cross between the FBI and CIA.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Kicking around a bit this morning, that conference in Vancouver looks pretty interesting.

linked is a report on one paper describing the environment around CO2 bubbling vents in the sea floor. Yes, when the pH declines, so does diversity.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:29AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

As a member of the AAAS, I hardly have time to read through the journals that arrive each week and to keep up with the annual (and regional) meeting summaries. Over 8000 scientists attended this year's meetings.

A society that glorifies its priests and charlatans and demonizes its scientists is destined to decline.

The BEEB has an article about the CO2 vents

Here is a link that might be useful: 'Jacuzzi vents' model CO2 future

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:46PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

You know, I never was a science person--my preferred world is the humanities and fine arts--but even a science-deficient person like myself gets worried when I know more science and believe more in science than some of the anti-science types out there.

Remember those Dumb and Dumber movies that were so popular not so long ago? I swear the general public now thinks being dumb is the new COOL!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Kate, I think you may be right. And the rest of the world will continue to laugh at us....

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Had the wrong link up there, Marshall, thanks. I was listening just now to 'On the Media' and they had a segment about Elsevier, the giant scientific publisher with thousands of journals, who are now lobbying Congress to over-ride the law about NIH funded research being free and openly available to anyone, they want to publish it and charge universities and researchers an arm and leg for the work paid for by the taxpayer.

Anyway, I used to publish in a couple of their journals years ago, and even then I thought it was a serious ripoff, and an individual would be hard-pressed to pay for a subscription. I hadn't known about 'bundling' where Elsevier forces universities to subscribe to all kinds of stuff just to get the ones they want.

Link below is to the blog of a Mathematician who has started a boycott. Interesting read, as well as the comments below

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:55PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Thanks, David. Interesting read. I too used to protest Elsevier because access to current and near current papers in the journals was prohibitably expensive to access. They are churning out multiple journals for each subject and walling off access to some of the better work. They even charge authors extra for graphics and such.

Elsevier is leading the fight against all open access science publishing. If the general public does not have access, you can expect continued decline in scientific literacy.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science
Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation's culture wars.

The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet. "Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective," one document said.

While the documents offer a rare glimpse of the internal thinking motivating the campaign against climate science, defenders of science education were preparing for battle even before the leak. Efforts to undermine climate-science instruction are beginning to spread across the country, they said, and they fear a long fight similar to that over the teaching of evolution in public schools.

In a statement, the Heartland Institute acknowledged that some of its internal documents had been stolen. But it said its president had not had time to read the versions being circulated on the Internet on Tuesday and Wednesday and was therefore not in a position to say whether they had been altered.

Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute. In an apparent confirmation that much of the material, more than 100 pages, was authentic, the group apologized to donors whose names became public as a result of the leak.

The documents included many details of the group's operations, including salaries, recent personnel actions and fund-raising plans and setbacks. They were sent by e-mail to leading climate activists this week by someone using the name "Heartland insider" and were quickly reposted to many climate-related Web sites.

Heartland said the documents were not from an insider but were obtained by a caller pretending to be a board member of the group who was switching to a new e-mail address. "We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes," the organization said.

Although best-known nationally for its attacks on climate science, Heartland styles itself as a libertarian organization with interests in a wide range of public-policy issues. The documents say that it expects to raise $7.7 million this year.

The documents raise questions about whether the group has undertaken partisan political activities, a potential violation of federal tax law governing nonprofit groups. For instance, the documents outline "Operation Angry Badger," a plan to spend $612,000 to influence the outcome of recall elections and related fights this year in Wisconsin over the role of public-sector unions.

Tax lawyers said Wednesday that tax-exempt groups were allowed to undertake some types of lobbying and political education, but that because they are subsidized by taxpayers, they are prohibited from direct involvement in political campaigns.

The documents also show that the group has received money from some of the nation's largest corporations, including several that have long favored action to combat climate change.

The documents typically say that those donations were earmarked for projects unrelated to climate change, like publishing right-leaning newsletters on drug and technology policy. Nonetheless, several of the companies hastened on Wednesday to disassociate themselves from the organization's climate stance.

"We absolutely do not endorse or support their views on the environment or climate change," said Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational drug company shown in the documents as contributing $50,000 in the past two years to support a medical newsletter.

A spokesman for Microsoft, another listed donor, said that the company believes that "climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate worldwide action." The company is shown in the documents as having contributed $59,908 last year to a Heartland technology newsletter. But the Microsoft spokesman, Mark Murray, said the gift was not a cash contribution but rather the value of free software, which Microsoft gives to thousands of nonprofit groups.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Heartland documents was what they did not contain: evidence of contributions from the major publicly traded oil companies, long suspected by environmentalists of secretly financing efforts to undermine climate science.

But oil interests were nonetheless represented. The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year. Mr. Koch is one of two brothers who have been prominent supporters of libertarian causes as well as other charitable endeavors. They control Koch Industries, one of the country's largest private companies and a major oil refiner.

The documents suggest that Heartland has spent several million dollars in the past five years in its efforts to undermine climate science, much of that coming from a person referred to repeatedly in the documents as "the Anonymous Donor." A guessing game erupted Wednesday about who that might be.

The documents say that over four years ending in 2013, the group expects to have spent some $1.6 million on financing the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, an entity that publishes periodic reports attacking climate science and holds lavish annual conferences. (Environmental groups refer to the conferences as "Denialpalooza.")

Heartland's latest idea, the documents say, is a plan to create a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science and budgeted at $200,000 this year. The curriculum would claim, for instance, that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy."

It is in fact not a scientific controversy. The vast majority of climate scientists say that emissions generated by humans are changing the climate and putting the planet at long-term risk, although they are uncertain about the exact magnitude of that risk. Whether and how to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases has become a major political controversy in the United States, however.

The National Center for Science Education, a group that has had notable success in fighting for accurate teaching of evolution in the public schools, has recently added climate change to its agenda in response to pleas from teachers who say they feel pressure to water down the science.

Mark S. McCaffrey, programs and policy director for the group, which is in Oakland, Calif., said the Heartland documents revealed that "they continue to promote confusion, doubt and debate where there really is none."

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 4:30PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

I never was a science person--my preferred world is the humanities and fine arts--but even a science-deficient person like myself gets worried when I know more science and believe more in science than some of the anti-science types out there.

Same here. When I can understand the explanations of what scientific theory involves (thank you David, Lena, Marshall, KT, and others), and then read the continuous misrepresentations that evolution or global climate change is "just a theory," I know that some serious disinformation is being promoted.

I don't understand why some fundamentalists are so invested in climate-change denial. Evolution, I understand, but climate change? Don't they have a stake in this planet just like the rest of us, or does the rapture trump all else?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 4:49PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

We are quick to blame the fossil fuel and chemical industries but the antipathy goes deeper. If the enviros are for dealing with climate change, there are millions of people will automatically shut out the reasoning and be against the enviros. Many of the people living today were not yet born when water, air and land pollutions were major health hazzards. Most haven't lived long enough nor be paying attention to changing climate patterns. Being so poorly educated in math and science, many of the same people automatically distrust scientific methods and statistical abstraction weighting the results of climate models. Heck, they are unaware that the same methods are used in business and industry all the time in one form or another.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Science was my first love...until I cheated on it and fell for VgQn ;) Growing up in a Catholic schooled atmosphere I was often labeled as the "Doubting Thomas". Science has a way of cutting through the fat and getting to the meat.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 5:39PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

It's very simple. It's politics. (And religion)

If libruls are for it, fundamentalists are agin it--because libruls are, by (fundamentalist) definition, wrong, evil, biased anti-Christians trying to bring down the church and even God.

There, we've covered the whole topic.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 5:44PM
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Funny, Kate... and yet, sad that there's some truth to your comedy.

Science and math were not my best subjects throughout school, but the more I want to be successful at growing the plants I do, the more I realize how science and physics, and even math, play vital roles.

And the information I need isn't even that complicated or difficult to understand. I find myself embracing simple science and basic physics, applying them, and realizing much higher rates of success.

Forget "good enough", forget "it works for me", and forget convenience... I want optimal results, and the only way to obtain them is through knowledge.

In reality, that's all a green thumb is... applied knowledge. There's no luck or magic involved.

Quite honestly, it feels so freeing to open one's mind to the possibilities, and the constant changes and new discoveries that science brings us! Even if the information is frightening, it still teaches... and it shows us the path we must take to change things for the better.

I can't imagine closing off my mind with stagnated dogma ever again!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 10:36PM
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