Our modern world is dependent on the quality and veracity of science. Where once Mankind looked to religion for guidance, the modern world looks to science to answer questions and guide our behavior. Public policy is predicated on the findings of the scientific community, and the integrity of that community is vitally important if we are to maintain our civilization and way of life. But can we rely on science in this hyper-partisan world, where Liberals seek to subvert any “good crisis” to gain a political advantage? Can we rely on what the oracles are telling us, or have they been compromised?
Physorg has a piece about deliberate fraud in scientific data. Below is an excerpt:
“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.
Recent scandals like Hwang Woo-Suk’s fake stem-cell lines or Jon Sudbø’s made-up cancer trials have dramatically demonstrated that fraudulent research is very easy to publish, even in the most prestigious journals. The media and many scientists tend to explain away these cases as pathological deviations of a few “bad apples.” Common sense and increasing evidence, however, suggest that these could be just the tip of the iceberg, because fraud and other more subtle forms of misconduct might be relatively frequent. The actual numbers, however, are a matter of great controversy.”
The dirty little secret is that science has always had this sort of behavior, and sometimes it is caught (Piltdown Man, Cold Fusion, Michael Mann`s “hockey stick”), and sometimes it isn`t. There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany. Consider Hitler`s refusal to allow Einsteinian relativity to be used in the Nazi heavy water experiments. This whole thing accelerates when government becomes the primary funder of all things science, and the latter 20th and early 21st centuries have seen the enslavement of science by government funds. It should come as no surprise to find that many researchers cheat to get a leg up on the competition-and to get more from the public trough.
That is why we have witnessed such a politicization of science in recent years, and why a good deal of “science” is fraudulent. Michael Mann`s “hockey stick” climate graph is a classic example, but hardly the only one.
How about Professor Wei-Chyung Wang of New York State-Albany? Seems he coauthored two papers; Wang W.-C., Zeng Z., Karl T.R. (1990), Urban heat islands in China, Geophysical Research Letters, 17: 2377-2380 and Jones P.D., Groisman P.Y., Coughlan M., Plummer N., Wang W.-C., Karl T.R. (1990), Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land, Nature, 347: 169-172. It turns out that DR. Wang (a noted climate alarmist) made the following statements:
“The stations were selected on the basis of station history: we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.” [Jones et al.]
“They were chosen based on station histories: selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times.” [Wang et al.]
But it turns out that the Department of Energy and Chinese Academy of Science, which oversees the stations both in the U.S. and China, reported that of the 84 selected stations only 35 had a history report in DOE records and of those 35 at least half had been moved. It appears that Wang falsified his data.
Let us not forget Woo Suk Hwang`s famous cloning breakthrough that turned out to be fake.
Or this gem:
“The latest deception was discovered by Camilla Stoltenberg, a director of epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, who was catching up on her literature reading over Christmas. Sudbø’s paper claims to analyse a public-health database and show that taking anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the incidence of mouth cancer (J. Sudbø et al. Lancet 366, 1359-1366; 2005). “I was surprised because it refers to the Cohort of Norway, for which I am responsible,” Stoltenberg says. She knew that this could not have been the source of the lifestyle data as the paper claimed.”
(I find it interesting that so much of this fraudulent science occurs in climatology and life sciences-two highly politicized fields. Also, there is just poor research-see the report by Anthony Watts on the NOAA temperature stations at http://www.surfacestations.org)
Science seems to be becoming an arm of the political establishment-especially the leftist establishment which, after all, controls academia and the press. What happened to Guillermo Gonzalez, say, for bucking the establishment viewpoint? Gonzalez was a well-regarded astronomer who was denied tenure at Iowa State University for appearing in a documentary arguing against Darwinism and the materialistic/atheistic viewpoint. A radical atheist at ISU launched a crusade against Gonzalez, and a frightened University buckled, denying the astronomer tenure; essentially firing him. Or Richard Sternberg who was forced out of the Smithsonian for allowing a paper on Intelligent Design to be published (if this is about science, then allow the paper to be seen, reviewed, and fall of it`s own weight rather than blacklist it). We have seen scientists call for revocations of meteorological certifications for not believing in Global Warming, for instance. We have watched James Hansen bluster and cry while the data coming from his Goddard Institute has been on a number of occasions erroneous in favor of his pet theory. We have seen the publication of books claiming that George Bush and “the Right” have been conducting “a war on science” which apparently entails challenging the pronunciations of “mainstream” scientists like Al Gore.
Strange. Science is whatever the party line says it is. Those who challenge junk science are often accused of being radical Christians, George Bush robots, or anti-rationalists. Those who accept ever word out of every “approved” scientists mouth is accepting the truth.
And this is not just a point of academic interest; we`ve had terrible public policy as a result of bad science. Consider the Alar scare which hurt fruit growers. Consider the banning of DDT, which has lead to the deaths of millions in Africa from malaria. Consider the bad science that has stopped the development of a nuclear industry in the United States. Global warming is the latest scare, based on atrocious science that does not stand up to scrutiny, yet Congress and the Obama Administration are prepared to implement Cap-and-Trade, to fundamentally restructure the economy and impose all manner of government restrictions. How many will die in the Third World as a result of a slowing economy? How many will die from automobile accidents that would have simply bent their fenders, but now are lethal thanks to the new CAFE standards? How much blood are we going to trade for oil? This stems from bad policy created as a result of bad or fraudulent science.
But science is about testing “accepted truth”, about verifying and double-checking. The modern scientific community seems less than willing to challenge when a politically favored theory is being questioned-or where money is involved. Science has become a whoredom, filled with partisans, money seekers and scoundrels.
We should careful about what we accept these days.
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