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Water: The costs of honest science

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Brought to you by the team that uncovered the water crisis in Flint, Michgan:

Citizens in Flint could smell, taste and see that their water was contaminated almost immediately following the switch. But when they tried to bring their concerns to public officials’ attention, they were ignored, dismissed and ridiculed.

(pause for sneering at the anti-science rubes)

We became involved in April 2015 when Lee Anne Walters, a Flint resident and mother of a lead-poisoned child, contacted Dr. Marc Edwards, our research adviser at Virginia Tech. After the city detected elevated lead in the Walters family’s water, and she was refused help by MDEQ, Mrs. Walters took her case to EPA Region 5 employee Miguel Del Toral, who collaborated with our lab to sample her tap water.

Mrs. Walters sent us samples from her home, and we found lead levels that on average contained over 2,000 parts per billion (ppb) of lead – more than 130 times the EPA’s maximum allowable limit of 15 ppb.

Mere anecdotal evidence. Anyway, some scientists tried to help the rubes, despite the ‘crats, and more or less succeeded but …

Our experience in Flint has shown us some unpleasant costs of doing good science. It can mean burning bridges to potential funding, and damage to your name and professional reputation. There also are emotional costs associated with distinguishing right from wrong in moral and ethical gray areas, and personal costs when you begin to question yourself, your motives and your ability to make a difference.

Things have started to change in Flint, but fixing its water system will take years, and its citizens will need continued support in many areas – including nutrition, health care and education – to manage the effects of lead poisoning over the coming decades. More.

As this story shows, “science” has now become a catchall term for what the establishment needs people to believe.

If the evidence doesn’t support the agenda, time to go to war against the evidence and those who insist on it. If one wants to challenge this, one should plan wisely and count the cost.

See also: Retraction Watch offers watch-year-back advice for whistleblowers


Lonely are the brave: What happens to whistleblowers

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EvilSnack at 1, some of us would gladly settle for a return to responsible government, where science is just a tool, not a religion, and public safety comes first. That was the idea that prevailed when we bought into treated water in the first place. News
Dumb 'em down, make 'em dependent, poison their water. Our leaders always have the greatest plans, don't they? Andrew asauber
The steps leading to this disaster, and the criminally inept response to it, merit getting medieval on the officials responsible. I think that removing their hands, feet, eyes, and vocal cords, and then having them spending the rest of their lives crawling helplessly around the streets of Flint, would be a prudent measure. EvilSnack

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