February 4, 2016
Following a similar vein as the last blog message,”Report from the Science and Wireless 2015 event in Australia” the 2014 book, Science For Sale by David Lewis PhD is relevant reading. The sub title is:
How the US government uses powerful corporations and leading universities to support government policies, silence top scientists, jeopardize our health, and protect corporate profits.
However the title would be just as accurate if it alternatively read: ‘How powerful US corporations use the government’, etc – considering the “revolving door” between corporate America and the government where govt. agencies are effectively given over to corporate control in exchange for large election donations. If it was in a 3rd World country it would be condemned as outright corruption. In the USA however, its just accepted as business as usual.
In 2015, former president, Jimmy Carter expressed concerns over widespread corporate influence over the American government, which he saw as an Oligarchy. To quote:
Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.
So, now to Science For Sale:
From the fly leaf:
When Speaker Newt Gingrich greeted Dr. David Lewis in his office overlooking the National Mall, he looked at Dr. Lewis and said: “You know you’re going to be fired for this, don’t you?” “I know,” Dr. Lewis replied, “I just hope to stay out of prison.” Gingrich had just read Dr. Lewis’s commentary in Nature, titled “EPA Science: Casualty of Election Politics.” Three years later, and thirty years after Dr. Lewis began working at EPA, he was back in Washington to receive a Science Achievement Award from Administrator Carol Browner for his second article in Nature. By then, EPA had transferred Dr. Lewis to the University of Georgia to await termination—the Agency’s only scientist to ever be lead author on papers published in Nature and Lancet.
The government hires scientists to support its policies; industry hires them to support its business; and universities hire them to bring in grants that are handed out to support government policies and industry practices. Organizations dealing with scientific integrity are designed only to weed out those who commit fraud behind the backs of the institutions where they work. The greatest threat of all is the purposeful corruption of the scientific enterprise by the institutions themselves. The science they create is often only an illusion, designed to deceive; and the scientists they destroy to protect that illusion are often our best. This book is about both, beginning with Dr. Lewis’s experience, and ending with the story of Dr. Andrew Wakefield.
Review by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:
“David Lewis has been a beacon of integrity against the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed endeavoring to divert science from the noble pursuit of truth and pervert it into a tool that supports the most destructive policies of industry and government.”