It’s a single word that, over the decades, has amassed the power to silence dissent and shame alternative theories:
And while, by definition, it should only be a force for good, too often today large financial interests hijack “science” to persuade the public that the truth is on their side.
Indeed, just as religion once held incredible authoritative power to dictate what is true and what is false, the word “science” is like the new “god”—an ultimate arbiter of truth that, if ever questioned, will be met with its twin-verbiage like “peer-review” or “control group” or “double blind.”
Of course, the problem isn’t the scientific method itself, but rather how the persuasiveness of science as an instrument for truth-seeking gets exploited by powerful interests—muddying the waters so that any theories or explanations that are not approved by the groupthink of peer-review get immediately rejected as “pseudo-science.”
And when “researchers” can be essentially bought off by industry in order to concoct biased and favorable “studies”, the problem quickly tumbles down a slippery slope.
Like when numerous medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), were found to be on the payroll of Big Tobacco, helping the industry justify bold claims about the safeness and health of smoking cigarettes:
(the above tobacco ad used persuasive “science-like” terms to convince consumers, like “results published in authoritative medical journals, proved conclusively….”)
It’s a problem that permeates the world of scientific journals and “research”—so much so that one revealing study published in the Public Library of Science Journal found that “up to 72%” of scientists admitted that their own colleagues engaged in “questionable research practices.”
Furthermore, the respondents said that over 14% of them were simply engaged in “falsification” of findings and research.
Countless historical examples exist, and the aforementioned tobacco industry was at the forefront of “fake science.”
But the sugar industry was also hard at work buying off research.
Back in the 1960’s, Harvard scientists were hired by big sugar interests to obfuscate the connection between heart disease and sugar.
Similarly, the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF) tried to suppress a study linking bladder cancer to sugar consumption.
And there are countless modern examples, too. As reported by A New Kind of Human:
“…the Bush Administration got caught manipulating science to conform to their agenda.
“Big oil has likewise bribed scientists to parrot their narrative. Similarly, biotech giant Monsanto and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have also been caught engaging in this unethical practice together.
“This is not the first time Monsanto has been caught acting in this manner either. In Canada, a group of scientists testified that the GMO giant offered them a bribe of $1-2 million, and in Indonesia they were fined for engaging in bribery of a government official as well.
“Another biotech giant, Syngenta, hired scientists to discredit professor Tyrone Hayes, who conducted research that found out their herbicide Atrazine posed health risks to the population.
“In fact, corporations do this all the time. A perfect example, is a study conducted by the University of Colorado that claimed that diet soda was better at promoting healthy weight loss than water. Unsurprisingly, this study was funded by the soda industry.”
The truth is, science is far too valuable and powerful a tool to submit to groupthink and the peer-pressure of peer-review—having a contrarian opinion, or for that matter one that doesn’t confirm the interests of big industries shouldn’t be immediately cast aside as unfounded pseudo-science.
Thankfully, nowadays, many journals require a “conflict of interest” section where the financial interests behind the research must be disclosed.
It’s a small step in the right direction and it’s certainly nice to see the world of “peer-review” applying some intellect and skepticism towards the people paying big bucks to fund their research.