2 Politics of Science|
Funding dominates science. Money makes the world go round sadly applies to science as well, personally I would far rather see the more natural “science for science’ sake”. If we are going to consider scientific enquiry we have to understand how much the direction of enquiry has been corrupted.
The two main sources of funding are defence procurement and business. I have very limited personal experience of the impact of funding but at one stage I was trying to get a job teaching at a higher institution – I now realise too high for me. The institute ostensibly was a teaching institute but the primary job qualification was the ability to attract research funding. In a temporary position I had been successful on the teaching side – my reason for applying, but there was research money coming with me; my application was a waste of time.
Research is dominated by funding and not the research itself. The direction of the institutions is fashioned by the funding. We research into technology because of the profits of fashionable technology such as smartphones, as well as the benefits for weaponisation that comes from technological advances. Whilst technological advances do benefit humanity when making making profits for the funders, what about advances for humanity that could be made that would not benefit funders with profits?
Another aspect of profiteering in science is the patent. If there is a natural cure that comes from plucking a herb from the ground and using it to heal, there is no profit and so there is limited research or scientific enquiry. No company will invest in research into such herbs because you cannot patent nature and so they cannot make a profit. Now that there is some funding coming from companies marketing natural cures, investigations into herbal properties might increase, but pharmaceutical companies have far bigger budgets and their primary profit strategy is to establish a patent and make a profit. This of course limits scientific enquiry into what nature provides.
This control of the direction of research vastly limits possible avenues of enquiry within science and is so destructive.
At the same time there are vested interests trying to destroy the credibility of science because the truth of science is getting in the way of profits. Climate science is very clear. The greed of those such as the Koch brothers financing climate denial [URL 5] is equally clear. But there are so many people who have been intentionally confused by this type of political manipulation that the lies have gained traction. When funding directs research there will always be opportunist scientists who are willing to gain funding by giving the funders scientific respectability.
I want to note here two other areas in which profiteering has created doubt on the science. The cancer industry is huge. There are huge profits to be made using the established treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. The science behind these treatments is dubious, and there is little funding for investigation into alternative treatments. Everyone accepts that chemotherapy kills, that the death by chemotherapy is a horrible way to go, but does chemotherapy cure? Limited success – but highly profitable. Do any of the natural “cures” that are put forward work? Answer unknown. This is not science but censorship by those who are making the profits. I want science to define the limits of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and define the limits of the claims made by Gerson, macrobiotics, Burzynski, cannabis and others. But science is not able to do so because of control of funding. It greatly worries me that the alternative treatments listed here all want science to investigate yet donations for cancer research cannot be used to investigate these claims.
When you take chemotherapy what chances of a cure do you have? How likely is it that you will have any quality of life remaining? However apologetic the doctors are, these drugs are the only thing on offer. That is control.
Vaccinations are another area in which the confusion created by these powerful influences have led to problems. Undoubtedly history is in favour of vaccinating, they have helped eradicate much global illness. The science is clear on vaccination. The main scientist, Andrew Wakefield, whose research pointed at weakness in vaccination, had his studies withdrawn from The Lancet. I am no legal expert but it certainly appears he has been proven a fraud. But people continue to fund his campaigning, and there are opportunists who also support his campaign. Individualists and freedom activists supporting the right to choose have latched onto this campaign, and are claiming that they have a civil right not to be vaccinated. If that is accepted it means that vaccinations as healing cannot work because vaccinations need to be 100%. Of course BigPharma makes huge profits from vaccines, and inspection of their scientific manipulations brings vaccinations into question. I don’t know whether this is beneficial to BigPharma but this is a clear example as to funding causing disruption.
At the same time there is a flu vaccine. This vaccine is only recognised as being 50% effective (at the time of writing May 2018)[URL1]. Taking this vaccine is particularly recommended in medical establishments but some employees have been sacked for refusing it, at the same time some employers have not negotiated with unions. It is a free-for-all based on populism, funding and an appeal to individualism, a very dangerous concoction that is undermining science.
Monsanto and Seralini also throws an important light on forces controlling science. I have no personal doubts that Seralini was correct (supported by many scientists [URL2], but legally there are questions. Seralini published a report in a reputable magazine that indicated GMO foods were dangerous. Monsanto, sorry GM proponents [URL3] attacked this report, and the magazine withdrew the article. Monsanto have laid into Seralini so in society there is a great deal of confusion as to the veracity of Seralini’s findings, sufficient for Monsanto to continue marketing GMO products with financial success. As I have said I have no personal doubts concerning the dangers of GMO foods but I cannot be definitive for legal reasons. Money can buy favourable research, money can buy the law. Science and elsewhere are undermined by financial manipulation.
This is only a cursory glance at the issue of funding. Doubt has been cast over science but I am personally clear. Within its limits science is verifiable, it is truth. This enquiry is not an attack on genuine science.
But science is under attack from within, academia as an institution is also corrupted but this time by ego, money is connected to this ego but it is primarily ego. It is difficult to describe as a generalisation how ego affects all academic institutions, so I pose these questions? Are academic departments run for the benefit of "science for science’ sake", for the benefit of education, or do the politics of ego get in the way? This is not simply a problem of academia but academia is not immune. Why do I mention it? Because I am solely posing questions of genuine science and for genuine science to advance ego has to be disciplined.
These destructive forces of funding and ego are very powerful. Funding and egotism can completely destroy genuine science, and that has to be a proviso of this search for the path – for transcendence through scientific enquiry. Remember it is not science itself that is at fault, but the internal destructiveness of ego and the external destruction caused by funding manipulation. When I am asking questions of science I don’t consider myself part of these destructive forces in science, I am asking questions in the spirit of enquiry with the intention of advancement of learning.
In response to the intended destruction (of the funding of the Dark Money Network URL4) there is a reaction amongst scientists, and education in general, to defend science and all its practices. This faith in science is also destructive, science needs to be continually questioning to evolve. But that again is not my purpose in this exploration, I am seeking only transcendence, the alchemy of consciousness that transforms instinct into insight.
The observations in this section are far from exhaustive, there is nowhere near the required level of research that science would normally demand. But I merely wish to state that these are hurdles to genuine science; I shall be taking as given these destructive forces (funding and ego) of the politics of science.