Is the Scientific Community Next To Be Targeted by Conservatives?

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posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 06:19 PM
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Hello everyone,

I am a scientist by profession, and when reading this article, which was released by the AP and reported on a massive scale in the past couple of days, I was very upset!

Could this type of report be an attempt by conservatives to disintigrate reputable scientific research? I saw an article similar to this one about two weeks ago, and was shocked when I saw it then too. But, that time, it didn't get this mass coverage -- why is it being reported again, and on such a massive scale? This type of reporting dupes the public into believing that much scientific research is bogus.

Case in point, this statement:

In a survey published June 9 in the journal Nature, about 1.5 percent of 3,247 researchers who responded admitted to falsification or plagiarism.

1.5 percent??? First of all, these types of surveys are completely unreliable, because they are only targeted to a certain specific audience, and only certain people will bother to respond. Secondly, where is the error?? 1.5 percent plus or minus what number?? All scientific studies that use statistics must use some kind of an error, and in many, many, many cases, that error is +/- 5%. That means that this number is highly insignificant.
That said, even if the 1.5% is without error (very unlikely), that is a very, very small percentage. Why is this story grabbing headlines in the mainstream media?

But, the general public won't think about the integrity of the statistics when they read this article, they will just read the headline, and think, "Those money grubbing evil scientists who are turning out bogus studies just to further their evil human cloning projects!"

Could it be that conservatives are attempting to undermine the reputation of the scientific community in their efforts to take further political control of our country? One specific example of this is the effort of religious conservatives who want to remove the teaching of evolution from the public school classrooms -- didn't we fight this war - with the teaching of evolution winning - 80 years ago (read here if you don't know what I'm talking about)?? Why is this even still a topic of debate?

What about the cloning debate? Is it possible that attention is being brought to all these so-called allegations (as if there were so many in the scheme of things - compare the number of reported allegations in the article to the tens of thousands or more scientific studies that occur every year) because they are afraid that scientific advancement might tread where they don't want to go? Shame on them, if so!

I think it is very possible that our scientific community is under attack by these conservatives, who want to control every aspect of our lives - including what knowledge our scientific studies have to offer!

What do you all think?




posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 08:33 PM
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interesting, but I believe the scientific community has been a target for conservatives as long as there has been science and since the birth of conservative ideology.

It's just now science is testing more of the boundaries that religions are afraid to see the results.



posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 08:43 PM
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I agree with WorldWatcher.....there has always been an attack on science by those who realize it's implications regarding various contexts........To step back and take a bigger perspective than the article......you can say that science is winning the war......

Don't let the poll worry you.......scientific sorts will always understand what may or may not be false.........the masses can either get up off their butt and learn what they can or satisfy themselves with 'Must-See' T.V.

Cynical......yes......but it works.


[edit on 11-7-2005 by MemoryShock]



posted on Jul, 11 2005 @ 08:48 PM
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In an odd way this increase, if true, indicates that the results they come up with will have an impact. People don't lie unless it matters.
In other words obviously a lot of important people do listen to scientific results.
The days of the aristocrat scientist, who's only interests were their own egos and/or the truth are for the most part gone.
We lean on and put pressure on science now as we didn't in the past.

Now science is also big business.
Money hangs in the balance.
A mixed blessing.
More funding and jobs for science and scientists, but it also means money considerations begin to affect the science. It becomes more of a vocation than an avocation. Again a mixed direction.

It is also the fact that more obvious science that you could do in your own kitchen is becoming less common and specialized science that is much more obscure and technical is much more the norm. Maybe we need an improvement in the average human's logic, mathematics and grasp of details just to keep up.
Technical obscurity [specialization] also means it is easier to fudge results, because there are far fewer people who can validate or refute the results.

I still think almost all scientists go into the field because they are inately curious and work to understand the Universe. While science is considered more mainstream than it once was, it is not generally done for glamour or money and prestige, at least not of general society.

If you compare this pretty tiny number against the shenanigans that go on with politics and pork barrelling all on the public record, this is remarkably small.

If these statistics are accurate, I think you should be pretty proud to be a scientist. With all the rotten ways people lie and take advantage of one another from the top to the bottom, with a rating of 1.5% minor cheating you are angels.

I have a question for you as a scientist,
Do you ever wonder if the rest of us really deserve the results of the work you do as a scientist?
Do you [most of the time] find discovery rewarding in itself?
Is there a lot of tedious lab work or re-hashing data trying to sift any findings from it?
.



posted on Jul, 12 2005 @ 01:15 AM
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It's certainly nice to know that intelligent people in the world don't take these sorts of things for granted. And you are all right to say that science has always been a target by religious conservatives - I guess I hadn't thought of it in that perspective. However, when I see things going on, like attempts to take away rights and priveleges that were given to us by hard-fought courtroom battles, it just plain frightens me.

I'm glad that people on this board can surmise things like:

Originally posted by slank
With all the rotten ways people lie and take advantage of one another from the top to the bottom, with a rating of 1.5% minor cheating you are angels.


My hope is that the rest of the country (particularly those in the "red" states) will not see this as a "win for their side", so to speak - I just think reporting things like this is irresponsible and adds fuel to a fire that was put out long ago... oh well...


Originally posted by slank
I have a question for you as a scientist

First, let me say that I don't even pretend to represent the entire scientific community - I'm just one small scientist in a great big pool of them around the world! That said, I'll answer your questions as best I can from my point of view.


Originally posted by slank
Do you ever wonder if the rest of us really deserve the results of the work you do as a scientist?

I think that there are any number of reasons why someone pursues a career in the sciences. Ultimately, though, I think it has much to do with a thirst for knowledge and the desire to make life better - whether that applies to human life or some other life - is dependent upon the person (I speak mostly from a biological perspective, since that is my field). I've never once thought about how my research might affect "masses" of people, but rather, my research projects have had their own small scale focus which I feel lends something to the field for other scientists to build on. I wouldn't say it has much to do with thinking about whether the whole of humanity deserves the work, but my thoughts are more of how a study can contribute to the scientific community itself.


Originally posted by slank
Do you [most of the time] find discovery rewarding in itself?

Making a huge scientific discovery is a pretty rare thing. Most people realize by the time they complete a degree in the field, that while their research might ultimately be used in some small minute way to contribute to some great discovery, the chances of being solely responsible for some life-changing scientific finding are slim to none. Most really solid scientific research is completed through large-scale collaborations, and I would have to say that being part of a team like that is just as rewarding as any other team of people that completes a goal together. On the other hand, ask Watson & Crick if it was rewarding and I'm sure they'd tell you it was a rush to be at the forefront of discovering something as life-changing as DNA structure! I think the work is generally interesting and rewarding if one is interested in their field of study, regardless of the outcome of a study.


Originally posted by slank
Is there a lot of tedious lab work or re-hashing data trying to sift any findings from it?

The short answer is YES! The long answer is, it depends on the nature of the study and the data collected. Sometimes, there is a lot of tedious work - whether labwork or otherwise. Once a study is complete and data has been collected, there is often a period of time where just working with the data itself can become tedious. In my experience, it isn't that I am trying to "sift findings" from it, as you say, so much as trying to determine why you got the results that you did (or at least determine possibilities as to why you got the results you did). Statistics is a tricky business, and in order to ensure that the study was conducted correctly, one must make sure that they have not only analyzed the data the right way, but also that the study design and data collection itself has integrity and meets the assumptions required by the statistical test being used. In this regard, I would think most people have a pretty good idea of how they plan to analyze their data prior to even collecting the data, and if they don't they should because if they haven't designed the study correctly, any findings that come out of the study may not hold water at all.

I hope that answers your questions!

P.S. Worldwatcher - Thank you for moving my post and my apologies for placing it in the wrong thread in the first place!



posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:18 AM
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i've always thought it might have somthing to do with the fact that because science has replaced god as the mysterious explaination of the universe for the majority of the public, the majority of the public place the same values upon science as they have in the past placed upon god, they expect a perfect entity, omnipotent and omnipresent,in which to place their trust

when scientists, the priests of the new god admit to lying, well what do you expect them to do? they're bound to be upset.

we all(non-scientists) rely on you guy's to tell us the truth, some just put more faith in you than others, and on the whole i think the trust isn't miplaced and that you should feel proud to be part of a professional community in which such values are applauded.

the fact that people get upset because 1.5% of scientists admitted to fluffing doesn't indicate a attept to invalidate scientist's, it is merely a result of the ammount of trust placed upon you.



posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 06:44 AM
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OK, some scientists/researchers/Drs. are found to have lied and acted inappropriately, but they are not to be blamed or at fault for their own actions. That doesn't make any sense to pass the blame onto others and try to find a conspiracy in it. Everyone is accountable for their own actions.



posted on Jul, 14 2005 @ 10:59 AM
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Originally posted by dbrandt
OK, some scientists/researchers/Drs. are found to have lied and acted inappropriately, but they are not to be blamed or at fault for their own actions. That doesn't make any sense to pass the blame onto others and try to find a conspiracy in it. Everyone is accountable for their own actions.


dbrandt, can you explain what you mean? Your statement seems contradictory - the second and third sentence seems to be opposite of what you said in the first sentence. Was the first sentence just sarcasm? I'm just asking because it is unclear to me what you are trying to say. Thanks.

To further illustrate my original point, here is a similar article, explaining the reasons in which this very small, insignificant percentage of people are falsifying data:

David Wright, a Michigan State University professor who has researched why scientists cheat, said there are some basic reasons: some sort of mental disorder; inadequate mentoring; and, most commonly, tremendous and increasing professional pressure to publish studies.

I also saw in another article (which I can't find right now or I'd link that too) that some scientists learn different methods if they are from different countries. Therefore, I contend that the very small insignificant percentage of scientists that falsified data may not be at fault if the reasons fall under the category of "inadequate mentoring" or "differing methods" (because of learning something differently). How is it "cheating" (to use the terminology of the quote above) when one's advisor and mentor has given them the wrong information? I wouldn't call that cheating, I would call that a mistake - an honest one, at that.

Also, we don't know what very small insignificant percentage of the already very small insignificant percentage of identified "cheaters" account for each of these categories. Seems to me that the actual "cheaters" (those in the "mental disorder" and "under pressure" categories) would be an even smaller and more insignificant percentage than indicated by this so-called discovery.

Pieman, you make an interesting point here:

Originally posted by pieman
the fact that people get upset because 1.5% of scientists admitted to fluffing doesn't indicate a attept to invalidate scientist's, it is merely a result of the ammount of trust placed upon you.


I hadn't thought of it that way, which is why I asked the question - I'm glad to get differing points of view! Let me add to what you're saying here by stating that, though what you say may be true, there are people who are dishonest in all aspects of their lives, particularly in their careers. I wonder how this percentage stacks up against the business world, for instance?

What bothers me about the whole thing are comments in the press like this:

The story itself is more common than most people might realize.

(source)

And this:

While the cases are high-profile, scientists have been cheating for decades.

(source)

It seems like an attempt by the media outlets (most of which are controlled by conservative deep pocketed corporations and their friends) are attempting to make more out of the story than it really is. Yes, there are dishonest people in all facets of life, and that includes scientists - yes, that means decades ago too, maybe even longer - science has been around for centuries! Why does that mean this should make headlines? The study results on how often this occurs were insignificant, meaning that this study holds no interest, scientifically or otherwise. If I did a study telling you that 1.5% of the trees in the forest had died, would you care? What about a 1.5% unemployment rate? Or how about a 1.5% tax rate? No matter how you slice it, that number is too small to matter, considering that there is error associated with any statistical data. It is not possible to conduct a survey like this without error. Usually the error is in the neighborhood of about 5%, which means that there is no way that the results have a leg to stand on. And still, when the report went out about this two weeks ago, it didn't grab headlines, so it was re-released to make sure that it did. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Now, it is true that there is something to be concerned about - particularly when the scientists in question might be working for, say, your neighborhood pharmaceutical company! Or how about a scientific consultant that works for an oil company? In fact, mix business with any other field of study and you've got the potential for unethical behavior. Why? Simply put, greed. Money and science don't mix very well. When the pharmaceutical companies stand to make millions or billions of dollars off the patenting of a drug, they are going to say or do anything to get it on the market - even if it puts your health at risk. It is partly to blame with what is wrong with our medical industry in this country...but that is another post entirely, so I won't go off on that tangent anymore. I think I made my point.

In conclusion, I'd just like to state that it appears to me that conservatives, particularly those religious conservatives, who are against the progression of science (perhaps for the reasons outlined by Pieman), are attempting to debunk the value of valid scientific findings and evidence because of a very small minority of dishonest people identified by a study that holds no water.

If you have anything else to add, I'd sure like to hear it!



posted on Jul, 15 2005 @ 09:11 AM
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Media is a business.
They have to sell product.
The more sensational the story the more attention they get for advertisers.
When there is no story they have to spin [re-heat leftovers] something into a story.

When science gets too tied up with commercial interests, its product too has to be treated skeptically too.
I personally have zero faith in anything the FDA puts out, because the majority of their funding comes from drug companies. People are usually self interested enough that they don't bite the hand that feeds them, even when it deserves a bite or three.

If the Media can make a story sound like something exceptional is happening, people pay attention. Sharp people pick up on the waffle-talk and inuendo and know when to dismiss it, less attentive or distracted people get sucked into the verbal cartoons.
Also if you can tell people things they want to hear they will tune in more. We all like our world-views re-inforced. Its disturbing to find out the foundations of your beliefs may not be true.

Mature people, of whom there are not enough of, realize they have to take everything from the commercial realm with a grain of salt and look beyond the spin to the actual factual statements being made.
Usually there is a fraction of substance compared to the way stories are made to sound.

Because there is so much stuff being churned out, most of the BS gets forgotten tomorrow if not later that same day, when the next truckload of BS arrives.

Where it becomes problematic is when you have people in the Whitehouse and Washington that are constantly and repeatedly tap dancing around scientific facts to pander to ignorant constituencies and which is used to provide cover for letting industry do anything it wants.

We are also getting so many infomercials and infotainment shows that dry, concise, factual news is getting buried or forgotten altogether.
Combining all this soft new-like looking BS with creation science [NOT] and Intelligent Design and it will be a wonder if young not completely formed minds will ever learn any well grounded significant facts.

They can talk the scientific facts down all they want, but when they deny gravity and expect an overhead rock not to drop on them, what can you do? Maybe Darwin's natural selection is our saving grace. As long as they don't drag everyone else down with them.
.



posted on Jul, 15 2005 @ 05:08 PM
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Originally posted by Tidepooler

dbrandt, can you explain what you mean? Your statement seems contradictory - the second and third sentence seems to be opposite of what you said in the first sentence.



Unless I misunderstood the article and your opinoin on it, from the article link you posted, some researchers admitted to lying on research data. Then you said you said that it could be a conspiracy by conservatives to discredit science. What I took you as meaning is that, this article is false and the allegations had no basis. That's where I'm coming from.


If the researchers did lie then they have themselves to blame and no one else. As such they have reaped what they have sown.

If I have misunderstood the article and your position on it let me know.



posted on Jul, 15 2005 @ 05:13 PM
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A good friend of mine is a microbiologist and must watch her back constantly.

The conservatives hate the scientific community and will not give them the money needed to carry thru with experiments and such.
This is nothing new.



posted on Jul, 16 2005 @ 04:31 PM
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Originally posted by dbrandt
Unless I misunderstood the article and your opinoin on it, from the article link you posted, some researchers admitted to lying on research data. Then you said you said that it could be a conspiracy by conservatives to discredit science. What I took you as meaning is that, this article is false and the allegations had no basis. That's where I'm coming from.


dbrandt,
If you were to re-read through all of my posts, I think that I have made my position very clear.

1 - The right wing Christian conservatives appear to have hijacked our political and public systems throughout this country.
2 - Now it appears they are attempting to discredit Science in order to further their own agenda (i.e., take away citizen rights based upon their own beliefs, change the constitution to add discriminatory definitions to support their own beliefs, remove from public schools the teaching of a scientific topic that is fundamental to the field of science, dissallow scientific research which may save thousands and thousands of lives, etc.) - though as a few people have pointed out on this board, this is certainly nothing new.
3 - An article appears reporting that a measely 1.5% of scientists that responded to a survey stated that they had falsified data at some point in their careers.
4 - 1.5% is a statistic. Statistics must be reported and dealt with correctly in order to be properly interpreted. 1.5% on a small survey does not by any means represent the entire scientific community, nor is it a number of any significance at all, statistically speaking.
5 - Most people don't know that.
6 - Given number 4, why is this being reported as a such a big deal?
7 - I think it is because Christian conservatives think they will find it easier to push their agenda on everyone else if they discredit science in general.
8 - Sure, there obviously are some people that are dishonest in their work - a fact that is true in all aspects of any type of career.
9 - I contend that the fact that number 8 is true doesn't give reason to throw out a headline grabbing article, the statistics of which, most people won't understand, are not as significant as the article tries to make it sound that it is.


If the researchers did lie then they have themselves to blame and no one else. As such they have reaped what they have sown.


Given numbers 1 thru 9 above, I don't feel that 1.5% of anything is significant enough to chastise the entire scientific community over it. It is a very small number, and shouldn't even be of interest to the overall population, except to say, "Hey, scientists apparently are hardly ever dishonest in their work. Too bad that's not true in business or all you people that lost everything might still have your retirements."

I hope that is more clear. You are more than welcome to disagree with me. I am not here to convince everyone on this board to agree with me. I am here to have intellectual conversation, to seek the truth, and to hear and be open to other opinions besides my own.



posted on Jul, 17 2005 @ 01:34 AM
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To me the scientific community has been the target of conservatives for a long time, but a re-emergence of it came in the 1960s onwards with the marrying of populist conservatism with religious fundamentalists. Beforehand populist conservatism (bismarck and onwards) has largely advocated the seperation of church and state but still have been very religious. What we see nowadays is an attack on one the victories of socialism and new liberalism in the United States and the west, which is universal education.

Creationism never held much water with science so they have tried to use science against itself, which is the intelligent design theory. But even that doesnt hold much water.

I feel religion must stay out of the classroom. I do not think kids should be taught creationism in science class, because it relies on faith. Science relies on facts. A scientific theory is heavily researched and widely accepted theories are taught because its the best we got.

Some Christians believe that science is evil because it teaches atheism and they see it as a government endorsed religion. I tend to see science as agnostic, science is all about observing the universe around us and conducting tests, I dont think science in its purest forms professes or denies the existence of a higher power.

thanks,
drfunk

[edit on 17-7-2005 by drfunk]



posted on Jul, 17 2005 @ 01:37 AM
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Just a little reminder to those who forgot. Remember how the NEA became a political issue? Next, you will see tax dollars withheld from California because of its state sponsored stem cell program.



posted on Jul, 18 2005 @ 10:26 AM
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Originally posted by FredT
Just a little reminder to those who forgot. Remember how the NEA became a political issue? Next, you will see tax dollars withheld from California because of its state sponsored stem cell program.
Its how they operate

Good point,Fred





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