Okay, not new, but we hadn’t heard this one before, as recounted by French philosopher of science Mathias Girel in an interview:
Regarding hidden intentions, we can cite the example of cigarette manufacturers, who in the 1950s and ensuing decades successfully cast doubts on the dangers of tobacco by financing studies that can in no way be called into question on scientific grounds.
M. G.: Precisely. They simply financed research on causes other than cigarette smoke in an effort to explain lung cancer: viruses, the impact of dust, genetic determinants, etc. In Golden Holocaust, published in 2012, the historian of science Robert Proctor showed that it is very difficult to challenge these studies or to dismiss them using the traditional arguments on the dividing line between science and non-science, as they meet all of the traditional criteria: they come from scientists, they are based on scientific formalism and method, they are published in peer-reviewed journals, and meet the Popperian argument on refutability, etc. Only the intention underlying this research can convey its “pathological” character, as it was financed with the sole aim of dismissing, suppressing, or
minimisingthe most important cause of lung cancer, which is tobacco smoking. This kind of elucidation takes time,and shows that the scientific criteria currently available to distinguish between pathological and “normal” science are less effective than before. Charline Zeitoun, “Is Science in Crisis?” at CNRS
So the genius of the tobacco companies’ strategy was that the research they funded was good research, just not about the
Their strategy might not work today because it might not be financially feasible to tie up most of the researchers in a field on other projects, whether or not the researchers sussed out the strategy (they probably would). As the prof says, this illustrates the need for
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See also: Gaming the system: How replication can be gamed in neuroimaging
Researchers: Double Down On Theory Like “Natural Selection” To Solve Replication Crisis
Amazing! Science Journal Op-Ed Gets Real About Why So Many People Don’t “Trust Science”