Politicised Science

An essay by John Brignell:

In the modern age almost everything is political; not just party-political, but also driven by sometimes covert, extra-parliamentary interest groups.

Science has come under total political control and so has lost much of its raison d’être, which is human curiosity.  In common parlance the very word “science” has changed its meaning. A repeated observation is that the existence of a consensus (a concept alien to science) in any field results in the suppression of research into alternative hypotheses. Politicians and bureaucrats nurture research that confirms their prejudices. That promotes a consensus, which inevitably becomes self-reinforcing by the exclusion of alternatives, so alleged scientific progress becomes merely the expression of Government policy.

The EU, USA, Britain and Australia all have left-leaning, authoritarian governments and bureaucracies, who believe it is their right and duty to exercise control over every detail of their victims’ lives. Powerful monolithic media organisations, such as the BBC and ABC, ruthlessly exercise rigorous censorship and selectivity to magnify the apparent weight of zealot causes favoured by the contemporary establishment. Scientific matters are discussed in terms of political ideology rather than the natural language of science, which is predominantly mathematics.

The looseness of trendy modern statistical procedures provides a ready response to political requirements. Results can be virtually manufactured to order. These are then used, with the cooperation of the establishment media, to bludgeon the population into obedience.

That’s all perfectly true. But how is good science to be recovered?

By handing it back to the curious, in my view. By handing it back to people who are puzzled about the world around them, and want to try to understand it. People who don’t want to be rich or powerful or famous. People who don’t have some separate agenda.

I’m not sure such people can be found in universities any more. But maybe they still can.

About Frank Davis

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25 Responses to Politicised Science

  1. smokervoter says:

    Universities are enemy territory now unless you happen to fit into an extremely narrow criteria of lifestyle adherence, physical appearance and collectivist thought patterns. This is in sharp contrast to the early seventies when I went away to Junior College. It’s funny, they used to call JC’s high schools with ashtrays. I smoked during lectures and so did some of the teachers.

    The campus was a refuge from the straight, uptight, supposedly narrow-minded world outside. Now it’s the outside world where people are freer to think and speak as they wish. Looking back though, I got my first taste of Liberal Fascism while perusing the Rooms for Rent bulletin boards at school even back then. Vegetarian Household seeks roommate – No Meat. Zen people seeking same to share house – No smoking.

    Of course, Ron Paul drew some very sizable college crowds during his campaign. A good buddy’s 27-year old daughter (unemployed college grad) is a Ron Paul fanatic. There’s hope yet. But it takes some very strong inner strength and intellectual curiosity to go against the pervading healthist, collectivist, Obamanoid grain of the student body and their professors.

    Any University of California campus must be hell on earth for people who were like I was back in my school days – loose as a goose and loaded for bear.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Universities are enemy territory now unless you happen to fit into an extremely narrow criteria of lifestyle adherence, physical appearance and collectivist thought patterns.

      This started in the 1990s; I do remember in the first week at university being told that times had changed and a degree no longer guaranteed us a job. Towards the end of the 3 years one of the youngsters, having had his hair dyed bright red, was told that he might wish to reconsider this, as when being invited to a job interview it might not help. We were also told that funds for research from the tobacco industry was no longer to be accepted.

  2. smokervoter says:

    Hell, even the ability to play Stairway to Heaven wouldn’t get me laid at college these days because I like to smoke while I strum the git-tar.

  3. SV, you wrote, “Universities are enemy territory now unless you happen to fit into an extremely narrow criteria of lifestyle adherence, physical appearance and collectivist thought patterns. This is in sharp contrast to the early seventies”

    Very true, and very sad. :/ I remember seeing it as it was changing on the fringes, in “the movement,” and trying to caution people that it really was NOT “funny” to chide people about being “politically incorrect.”

    :/
    MJM

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    This bears repeating here:

    Epidemiologists Vote to Keep Doing Junk Science
    http://www.manhealthissue.com/2007/06/epidemiologists-vote-to-keep-doing-junk-science.html
    Epidemiologists Vote to Keep Doing Junk Science

    Epidemiology Monitor (October 1997)

    An estimated 300 attendees a recent meeting of the American College of
    Epidemiology voted approximately 2 to 1 to keep doing junk science!

    Specifically, the attending epidemiologists voted against a motion
    proposed in an Oxford-style debate that “risk factor” epidemiology is
    placing the field of epidemiology at risk of losing its credibility.

    Risk factor epidemiology focuses on specific cause-and-effect
    relationships–like heavy coffee drinking increases heart attack risk. A
    different approach to epidemiology might take a broader
    perspective–placing heart attack risk in the context of more than just
    one risk factor, including social factors.

    Risk factor epidemiology is nothing more than a perpetual junk science machine.

    But as NIEHS epidemiologist Marilyn Tseng said “It’s hard to be an
    epidemiologist and vote that what most of us are doing is actually harmful
    to epidemiology.”

    But who really cares about what they’re doing to epidemiology. I thought
    it was public health that mattered!

    we have seen the “SELECTIVE” blindness disease that
    Scientist have practiced over the past ten years. Seems the only color they
    see is GREEN BACKS, it’s a very infectious disease that has spread through
    the Scientific community with the same speed that any infectious disease
    would spread. And has affected the T(thinking) Cells as well as sight.

    Seems their eyes see only what their paid to see. To be honest, I feel
    after the Agent Orange Ranch Hand Study, and the Slutz and Nutz Implant
    Study, they have cast a dark shadow over their profession of being anything
    other than traveling professional witnesses for corporate hire with a lack
    of moral concern to their obligation of science and truth.

    The true “Risk Factor” is a question of ; will they ever be able to earn
    back the respect of their profession as an Oath to Science, instead of
    corporate paid witnesses with selective vision?
    Oh, if this seems way harsh, it’s nothing compared to the damage of peoples
    lives that selective blindness has caused!

    The rise of a pseudo-scientific links lobby

    Every day there seems to be a new study making a link between food, chemicals or lifestyle and ill-health. None of them has any link with reality.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/13287

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Mikle you might like this one: It kinda appears the Louisianna Nazis think nobody buys their SHS junk science so they need to mandate it by law!

    Hoffman’s bill would also add an additional clause to the state’s anti-smoking law which acknowledges the mounting evidence of secondhand smoke’s negative health impacts. The current statute says it is in the interest of the state to protect nonsmokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke.

    House Bill 111, if passed would add the clause: “due to abundant and mounting scientific evidence indicating that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It is a more limited version of a similar piece of legislation Hoffman sponsored last year that put the 25-foot no smoking limit on all public and private buildings where smoking is already outlawed inside.

    “Secondhand smoke is a real health issue,” Hoffman said Friday. “(The bill) just makes sense. It’s a good thing.”

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/03/louisiana_smoking_legislation.html#comments

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Hoffman is trying awful hard to get somebody to believe him!

    • margo says:

      Louisiana? Are they doing anything about that 13-acre sinkhole that’s exuding dangerous fumes, yet?? No, it seems they have other things to worry about.

  6. beobrigitte says:

    But how is good science to be recovered?

    By handing it back to the curious, in my view. By handing it back to people who are puzzled about the world around them, and want to try to understand it.

    I dare say that most people are curious and puzzled, but looking into various aspects of puzzling things requires cash to cover cost. Looking into who funds what might provide a little help in re-establishing believable science?

  7. In terms of tobacco funding being accepted at universities, the University of Alberta in Canada banned it back in 2007. Here’s a letter I had printed on the subject in the Edmonton Journal, which was a “good thing.” Something that was NOT such a “good thing” was that the EJ *THEN* gave the published spotlight to a big Anti, a Dr. Mayers, who wrote what I would consider to be a libelous response falsely indicating that I and the Smokers Club had tobacco industry funding. The Journal subsequently refused to allow me a rebuttal clearing my name.

    ===

    MY LETTER TO THE EJ:

    The Edmonton Journal Story…

    ‘No-strings’ funding from Big Tobacco makes research more impartial – Edmonton Journal –April 9th, 2007
    Re: “Swearing off tobacco money,” Editorial, April 5.

    This editorial states as fact that the University of Alberta’s decision to refuse all research funding from tobacco companies “will enhance the school’s reputation as a centre of independent research.”

    Actually, the opposite is true.

    If the university rejects all studies that would be funded by those arguably supporting one particular view while welcoming funding from those supporting the opposite view, it can hardly be called an enhancement to independent research.

    Unless the university wishes to display a shameful lack of ethics, it needs to adopt the same policy for all grants from organizations publicly devoted to smoking bans, higher taxes on smokers, or other such goals that would interfere with true neutrality of research.

    The university should also insist that no government organization funded by tobacco taxes be allowed to provide grants, since the source of that money is indeed Big Tobacco and since such bodies would be biased against supporting studies that might support lower taxation levels on smokers.

    Imagine if you will a study designed to examine the question of whether eliminating tobacco taxes might reduce underage smoking by wiping out illegal black market sales. What source would a researcher at the University of Alberta now have to support such an investigation?

    Or how about a study whose preliminary data indicate no reduction in heart attacks among nonsmokers after smoking bans are implemented? Does anyone seriously think that funding for that would come from a Big Pharma company making millions off of Nico-Patchy-Gummy products used for nicotine-replacement therapy?

    Research studies are always inherently biased to some degree in their design, choice of subject or data, and ultimate interpretation so as to please the potential funder.

    The argument could even be made that “no-strings” grants from Big Tobacco might be truly more impartial overall than grants from organizations that state clearly that their grants are meant to advance the goal of reducing smoking.

    This push for universities to limit grants to those supporting “politically acceptable” research is both unethical and, in light of what we have seen historically in other countries, actually dangerous.

    Researchers should be free to seek support for their work and beliefs wherever that search for support should take them.

    That is the only true way to advance scientific knowledge.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains
    Philadelphia, Pa.

    ====

    EXCERPT FROM MAYERS’ ATTACK:

    Any time tobacco is discussed, the author must make full disclosure of conflicts of interest. Mr. McFadden did not state his full credentials; he is the mid-Atlantic regional director of the Smoker’s Club, Inc. This organization avidly supports the freedom to smoke and finds fault in most anti-smoking legislation. The organization’s web site does not declare its funding sources.
    Tobacco support groups often receive major funding from tobacco company affiliates. … I suspect that Mr. McFadden is just “blowing smoke” and trying to keep a tobacco presence in all our lives.

    ====
    DEFENSE THEY REFUSED TO PUBLISH:

    Dr. Mayers criticized my piece on tobacco research funding largely by indicating that I did not note my completely uncompensated affiliation with a grassroots internet group called The Smokers Club. He was correct in that, but totally incorrect in his implication that I or the Club are supported by tobacco industry money.

    My activism, and that of the many other wonderful people I’ve met and worked with in the Smokers Club, is funded out of our own pockets and small individual contributions. The Club does not have a secret source of “major funding from tobacco industry affiliates”. Unlike the recipients of multi-million dollar grants given to those seeking censorship of smoking in movies or working to deny elderly veterans a smoking room in their nursing homes, those on the smokers’ side of the issue usually have no real “competing interests” to declare… other than often being smokers working with other smokers to defend ourselves.

    We do not generally have money for extravagant press conferences or even simple press releases. We write our letters and articles on our own time, seeking to get a wider range of information out to a public overwhelmed by thousands of TV ads featuring piles of smokers’ dead bodies or happy little children being attacked by “third hand smoke” lurking on their playtoys.

    Our power lies in the validity and truth of our statements and information… not in our money.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”
    http://pasan.TheTruthIsALie.com
    Active in many smokers’ rights groups
    Mid-Atlantic Director of the SmokersClub.com, a completely noncompensated position with a completely grassroots non-profit internet newsletter group

    ====

    – MJM

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Heres a must read folks that Dave Atherton put out on the Commentator

    Dave Literally RIPS them a new one

    British medical establishment lighting up smokers again
    The misrepresentation of the truth by the DH and the medical establishment is truly galling. When you cannot trust your doctor who else is there to turn to for expertise?

    http://www.thecommentator.com/article/2851/british_medical_establishment_lighting_up_smokers_again

  9. garyk30 says:

    Bad science or just ignorant science?

    If you had a chest X-ray and a biopsy and your doctor informs you that you have lung cancer, how worried should you be?

    Actually, not very worried at all.

    You might inform your doctor that since chest x-rays for lung cancer have a 10% ‘False Positive’ error rate and biopsies a 3% ‘False Positive’ error rate, there is an 80% probability that you do NOT have lung cancer!!!

    This is how that works:
    Lung cancer death rate is 7 per 10,000.

    10,000 chest x-rays will provide 7 ‘true positive’ results for those that do have lung cancer.

    10,000 chest x-rays will provide about 1,000 ‘false posirive’ results to those that do not have lung cancer.

    That is a total of 1,007 ‘positive’ results, of which, 99% are ‘false positive’ errors.

    If all 1,007 ‘positive’ people have a biopsy done, the 7 ‘true positives’ will be duly shown to have a cancer of the lungs.

    A 3% ‘false positive’ error rate will provide 30 ‘false positive’ cancer of the lung reports.

    That is a total of 37 ‘positive’ results of which 80% are ‘FALSE’!!!!!

    Unless those people request a 2nd biopsy, all of them will under go radation treatment, chemo-treatment, or surgery.

    Even if you had a chest x-ray and then a CT scan(23% ‘false positive’ error rate), and then the biopsy, there is still about a 50% probability that you do not have lung cancer.

    If you have 2 CT scans and then a biopsy and are ‘positive’ on each, there is about a 70% chance that you do not actually have lung cancer.

    • garyk30 says:

      Heart attack and stroke deaths are about 50% of the deaths from the diseases said to be ’caused’ by smoking.

      All cuuurnet smokers’ heart attack deaths and stroke deaths are blamed on their smoking.

      When a current smoker dies from a heart attack or a stroke, there is about a 50% probability the death was caused by something other than smoking.

      Heart attack death rate:

      current smokers = 31/10,000

      never-smokers = 14/10,000

      If a current-smoker dies from a heart attack, there is a 45% chance/probability the death was caused by something other than smoking.(14/31 = 45%)

      Stroke death rate:

      current-smokers = 10.4/10,000

      never-smokers = 5.5/10,000

      If a current smoker dies from a stroke, there is a 53% chance/probability the death was caused by something other than smoking. (5.5/10.4 = 53%)

      • db says:

        They know it. It’s been easy for them with 50-60 years of brainwashing. But time and reduction of smoking rates are starting to be a big problem for TC. And why the control freaks are now going for alcohol and diet big time.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Heart attacks and strokes are quite an interesting subject when it comes to the hormonal differences between males and females.
        It is rare to find a woman suffering from a heart attack or a stroke pre – menopause. This was attributed to the hormone oestrogen.

        I was trying to find some numbers on this as it is not uncommon to hear about males suffering from a heart attack at the age of 40, yet it is very rare to hear about women suffering from heart attacks at the age of 40.
        However, by the time both have reached the age of 60, this gender difference has disappeared.

        I’m just curious; how high was the rate of heart attack occurrence in women in 1970 – 1980, then aged 40, and being pre-menopausal? How high was the rate of women smoking at that time?
        How do these numbers compare to this gender difference, bearing in mind since we do have this fiction of “life saving” smoking ban, to those now?

    • cherie79 says:

      I often wonder about this, I had a lung nodule picked up on an unrelated CT. No symptoms at all and it had not shown up on an X-Ray. I then had a PET scan which showed an increased uptake and they wanted me to have surgery. Given that due to position and size a biopsy was not possible we compromised on a second PET three months later which showed growth and increased uptake. I still felt fine but had to err on the side of caution so had the surgery six months after initial discovery. That will be three years in August and all scans have been clear so far and I never stopped smoking either. I did tell the surgeon if it wasn’t cancer he had better not let me wake up! but I do sometimes wonder, Should be grateful if they caught it early I suppose and I am. Asymptomatic lung cancer seems quite common and especially for non smokers who are rarely diagnosed early as it is not suspected.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Ukip urges Brits to withdraw their money from Spanish banks
    Nigel Farage has urged British expatriates in Spain to pull their money out of the country’s banks.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9950083/Ukip-urges-Brits-to-withdraw-their-money-from-Spanish-banks.html

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Farage is basically stating the EU is finished!

    Mr Farage said: “Even I didn’t think that they would stoop to actually stealing money from people’s bank accounts.

    “There is going to be a big flight of money and that flight of money won’t just be from Cyprus, it will be from the other eurozone countries, too. There are 750,000 British people who own properties, or who live, many of them in retirement, down in Spain.

    “Now that we see the EU are prepared to resort to anything to keep alive their failing euro project, our advice to expats living down in the Mediterranean must be, ‘Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance’.”

    Mr Farage urged George Osborne, the Chancellor, to rule out any such levy on British savers

  12. Pingback: Saturday night’s all right for building. | underdogs bite upwards

  13. beobrigitte says:

    I have just come across Prof. Grieshaber’s latest blog, this time it looks like it will be split into chapters. It is titled: “A fresh start in Science”

    I do apologize for the translation; Prof. Griesshaber does not deserve my lousy, rushed attempt of this but what he is beginning in his blog is just too important.

    Der vorliegende Beitrag ist der erste von insgesamt acht Teilen eines besonders wichtigen Texts. Er handelt von den wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen meiner Herangehensweise und darf als Fundamentalkritik an den heute angewandten epidemiologischen Methoden verstanden werden.

    This is the first of in total eight parts of a very important text which is about the scientific basis of my approach and can to be understood to be fundamental critique of the nowadays used epidemiologic methods.

    The epidemiology still is almost doggedly sticking to its familiar methods. But whereas in medicine the contact to patients and with that observation of actual effects of therapeutic measures, the relation to reality never can be completely lost, epidemiology, as a science in which one has to deal with databases, math formulas and printed paper, is very much at risk of producing results from which no scientific conclusions can be drawn about the actual conditions. Combined with today’s conventional PR strategies, which every scientific institution has learned to employ for attracting media attention for marketing research results with the goal of obtaining funding for further research, misinterpretations are sold as a supposed scientific truths which the public as well as not so few experts believe, although they cannot represent the real conditions.

    The “science of secondhand smoke” is a textbook example of misinterpretation caused by inadequate methods. It is quite possible that this really will be cited as an example of how not to do it in the text books of the future generations of Epidemiologists. The dogged defense of that misinterpretation and therewith associated derailments to all critical voices are are politically and ideologically motivated.
    Both levels are to be carefully separated from each other: The application of inadequate methods because they currently are not questioned in the field of epidemiology, is nothing more than a correctable scientific error. To prevent by all mean discussions on thus concluded epidemiological results which’s accuracy has been questioned, reveals the goal of avoiding rise to doubt in others. This has with science as such nothing to do.

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