Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's wrong with Science ? Could it really be the Scientists ?

File under: "Don't Mess with my Worldview"
The above Meme was created by someone within the Google+ site and appeared over my general post feed. What was interesting was that the usual science defenders came out and spouted off about the meaning behind the Meme, but this Meme was not about Science itself. It was about those who work within science today who are not necessarily motivated by the pursuit of discovery and wonder of our natural world as scientists historically once were. Today is much more different than times past. Many scientists today are bought and paid for corporate employees whose job assignment is to see to the fulfillment of Corporate demands. This isn't to say that all Scientists working for a corporation are evil or dishonest in their work assignments. But a growing number of this world's biggest and most notorious industrial giants have used their employee Scientists to smoke screen and cover up the truth on many things of a negative vein which would otherwise hurt their company's financial bottom line. My post here is not going to be some exposé Noc List of dastardly Scientists and their dirty deeds done for a plethora of corporations. I'll just provide one recent glaring example from the New York Times which is illustrative of how the scientific world has evolved or mutated itself today which has caused more and more concern among people who traditionally have long trusted science. Take the article below and one single paragraph.
New York Times: 
"The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare"
Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution. 
Bryan Schutmaat for The New York Times
Rob Bilott on land owned by the Tennants, Parkersburg, W.Va. 
"Bilott filed a federal suit against DuPont in the summer of 1999 in the Southern District of West Virginia. In response, DuPont’s in-house lawyer, Bernard Reilly, informed him that DuPont and the E.P.A. would commission a study of the property, conducted by three veterinarians chosen by DuPont and three chosen by the E.P.A. Their report did not find DuPont responsible for the cattle’s health problems. The culprit, instead, was poor husbandry: ‘‘poor nutrition, inadequate veterinary care and lack of fly control.’’ In other words, the Tennants didn’t know how to raise cattle; if the cows were dying, it was their own fault."
(Source: New York Times)
The article above itself is lengthy but also a good worthwhile read. It appears that many who commented at the bottom of this New York Times article agreed with my take on what was wrong with this case. Many were appalled by the blatant dishonest conduct of the research scientists, doctors and veterinarians used by DuPont Chemical corporation in literally manufacturing or fabricating a completely false story about the Tennant family being lousy farmers instead of revealing the scientific truth about the harm caused by DuPont's own chemicals. The actual facts were that these Scientists knew decades before hand just how dangerous these chemicals were and the potential for great harm to living things. It's so easy now days to target and blame all corporate CEOs, CFOs, other Company Execs & Department Heads, Boards of Directors, Company Salesmen, Public Relations Firms and Stock Shareholders. But almost no one is willing to point fingers at a scientist, doctor, etc because supposedly these people are believed to walk on hallowed ground and are above all this. Within any industry where science is employed to produce a product for market, we will often hear science defenders exclaim that their side of an issue has "scientific consensus" to back their worldview on a matter. In other words, this is the old, "Four out of Five Doctors Recommend" ploy. Scientists are viewed as the final authority, but the fact is that everyone forgets they are also human with the same failings, flaws and imperfections that are also common to the rest of mankind. People use to view the clergy this way, remember ? Like many people, they also are motivated by obtaining celebrity, wealth, prestige, etc. These things can and have coloured research work and caused many to hide negative data while exaggerating and embellishing upon the positives. 
This is also how one gets his or her work funded. Maybe the DuPont Scientists were motivated by a sense of company loyalty and job security. Is there any question that a Tobacco Company scientist or doctor back in the 1960/70s would have been fired if they had actually provided evidence which backed the truth of cigarette smoking as causing cancer ? See, it's not all that hard to figure. Consensus means nothing and that is not how science is supposed to work because a majority says so. A great example of a scientist who went up against the consensus was Galileo, but many defenders of science will insist , "no that's not rue, he was bucking against religion." Yes, the Church was present, but the prevailing Scientific Consensus of that time was the Church. Oddly enough, modern day Industrial Science and Academia in general have ripped pages right out of the Christendom Dark Ages playbook in censoring, blackballing and publicly insulting anyone who goes up against the prevailing scientific orthodoxy on any matter. In the end, this is just something for everyone to ponder when another future controversy exposes yet more flaws and imperfections which create questions to one's imaginary settled science worldview of things.
Update February 22, 2016
Scientific American: "Taking a Stand for Scientific Integrity" 
The above article is yet another unbelievable story of lack of integrity among many Scientists working for the world's industrial Corporations.

In our world, the sad fact is most people have been programmed and conditioned to not  do their own homework. They have a comfort zone for appointing leadership for themselves and blindly letting that leadership do their own thinking, study and research for them. They want the easy road, the motorway or Interstate Highway. Nobody wants to work hard anymore. The technology era has made people lazy, especially the world's youth. Most are out of touch with the outdoors and their special take on science is based solely on something they've read about what someone else has done. Pick up a field guide one day and take a hiking trail with your kids. If they're young enough it'll be easier, but a little older and you'll have a fight on your hands. Learning Science is not about the Internet or Discovery Channel or National Geographic on Television. Somehow the abuse and misuse of science has infected the way the average person (wearing a Troll Costume) today champions it on the Net 
Update May 2016 
"If science was unprepared for the influx of careerists, it was even less prepared for the blossoming of the Cult of Science. The Cult is related to the phenomenon described as “scientism”; both have a tendency to treat the body of scientific knowledge as a holy book or an a-religious revelation that offers simple and decisive resolutions to deep questions. But it adds to this a pinch of glib frivolity and a dash of unembarrassed ignorance. Its rhetorical tics include a forced enthusiasm (a search on Twitter for the hashtag “#sciencedancing” speaks volumes) and a penchant for profanity. Here in Silicon Valley, one can scarcely go a day without seeing a t-shirt reading “Science: It works, b—es!” The hero of the recent popular movie The Martian boasts that he will “science the sh— out of” a situation. One of the largest groups on Facebook is titled “I f—ing love Science!” (a name which, combined with the group’s penchant for posting scarcely any actual scientific material but a lot of pictures of natural phenomena, has prompted more than one actual scientist of my acquaintance to mutter under her breath, “What you truly love is pictures”). Some of the Cult’s leaders like to play dress-up as scientists—Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are two particularly prominent examples— but hardly any of them have contributed any research results of note. Rather, Cult leadership trends heavily in the direction of educators, popularizers, and journalists."
Scientific Regress, written by software engineer William A. Wilson at First Things

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