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The fate of truth in the age of sponsored science?

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With diverting illustrations, “the bad cat” tells us “why so many scientific studies refute their own conclusions”:

in the age of government sponsored science driven by grants, sinecure, and sponsorship, scientists face a difficult set of choices.

they must, if they wish to continue receiving the largess of the gold-givers toe the party line of state or commercially sponsored science. he who has paid the piper demands to call the tune and producing work that does not suit “the narrative” is career suicide. your funding will dry up. so may your position, your prospects for advancement, and even your tenure. you will not be asked to join committees, interviewed for articles, citied, or supported. you may be outright attacked. i discuss this in more depth HERE.

but scientists also face another constraint: they need to be accurate. they need to run good experiments, collect good data, and relay it faithfully. if they do not, they will get called out and revealed as incompetents or frauds. this too will end one’s career as it means that not only are you doing no useful work (apart from to propogandists) but will reveal that you have sold out integrity for lucre and that is the end of peers taking you seriously. you play for team lysenko now.

the need to thread this needle and appease and please both demands has led to an odd practice:

many times, the claims made in the abstract or in the conclusions are not supported by the actual data.

el gato malo, “telling the truth in the age of sponsored science” at Substack (February 13, 2022)

The cat, guilty of “bad cattitude,” appears not to know where the shift key is on his keyboard. But we will ignore that for the present. Interesting illustrations of the cat’s point follow.

A commenter writes, “Papers that start with the line “vaccines are likely the greatest health care intervention in modern history” or similar paean very often end up providing a counterexample to that dogma in the Results section. The whole papers must be read, with a calculator handy.”

2 Replies to “The fate of truth in the age of sponsored science?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    There’s an important difference between commercial and government support.

    Most commercial support is aimed at SOLVING practical problems. Big corporations have their own research and development departments, but they can’t cover all subjects in the needed depth. When a university already has a fully equipped and staffed lab for the needed subject, it makes sense to outsource.

    Before 1946, government support was fairly rare and mainly in agriculture, because farmers didn’t have corporate research departments. The military has always been large enough to do its own research.

    Since 1946, government support has been mostly aimed at improving surveillance and tyranny and torture. In other words, government employs science to MAKE problems, not SOLVE problems.

  2. 2
    asauber says:

    The heart of the matter is, who is presenting Scary Stories or Speculative Narratives under the guise of Scientific Findings?

    Science is supposed to provide useful information about the world around us, not drive people towards certain behaviors. That’s for other realms.

    Science is off the rails, dats fo sho.

    Andrew

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