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Given human frailties, inborn or learned, science is perhaps the least generally understood of the arts and major disciplines. While societies vary markedly, many in the US society have a love-hate relationship with its scientists. Scientists are hated and feared by many who nevertheless enjoy the fruits of science--and technology, its practical expression. For example, John Miller gathered information on scientific awareness in America for the National Science Foundations. He found Americans to be:

  • Scientifically savvy and alert: 20-25%.
  • Unaware that the earth circles the sun: 20%.
  • Unaware that DNA carries hereditary information: less than one-third, <33%.

This, in the nation leading the world in science and technology.

Our purpose here is to provide guidance for those who desire peace on earth but are not in-the-know regarding science, for some reason or other.

There are a number of pillars that underly and support science. Its quality depends on how well the research adheres to these features, as appropriate for the field of inquiry, of course. Some of them are:

  • Stated hypothesis or question: in analytic form for testing
  • Observable and measurable objects or events: need for a data base
  • Factual: known precision and accuracy of descriptive data
  • Representative sampling of objects or events: random and appropriate for the distribution
  • Bias free: human, instrumental, temporal, and envionmental
  • Reproducible by others: checks and balances, calculable margins of error
  • Results: subject to reasoning and logic, deduction
  • Full description: experimental conditions, measurements, reporting methods
  • Theoretical interpretation: simplest explanation
  • Publication: complete enough to allow others to assess and replicate the results,
  • Test predictive ability: within standard margins of error

In like manner, there are any number of ways by which science and technology can be corrupted. And up to 4% or so of all of us seem to be willing to do anything to win every encounter with others, the truth be damned (Stout, Hare, Frank). In addition, most of us are biased, unconsciously most of the time. So social issues such as politics, religion, economics, education, or personal issues such as a Personal Hang-up tend to bias a person's logic or judgment.

Whether conscious or not, means these folks have for corrupting science, or any social system for that matter, include:

  • Falsifying data
  • Trashing the data of other
  • Misinterpreting results
  • Preventing publication of results
  • Pigeon-holing reports
  • Assassinating the character of the scientist
  • Denying the validity of the endeavor

Such corruption is doubtless driven by poor character, most starkly in the Sociopath, Psychopath and Narcissist syndromes. It is not a crime to be one of these. But we must be vigilant to the damage they can do. See: “[White House] Undermining Science,” for some details on one example.“

For some 260 more examples see: Abuse of Science by Agency. These violations of truth and justice were carefully documented by the Union Of Concerned Scientists. See also political Interference. Shades of Mao's Culture Revolution.

To avoid more of the same, look for those who:

  • Control information creation, storage, transmission
  • Avoid accountability while demanding it of others
  • Use administrative barriers to stop or limit information flow
  • Censor for political or religious reasons

Especially, be aware of those who shout the loudest about opposing these. You may be seeing a hang-up in action--reaction formation perhaps in this case. In this event, the shouter, him- or herself, is doing just those things they rail against.

America’s position in the world came about because, historically, we followed the examples of Jefferson and Franklin who both pursued science in search of basic truths. Recently, that tradition has been attacked and at the government level, seriously weakened. It must never happen again. While no one can see around corners, we can improve our chances by figuring out who to vote for. See Tea Leaves for more on that.


Yes the problem largely lies in corruption. But it is the political system that is corrupted. All reasonable accounts have the Bush administration pushing the limits beyond all historic precedent.

If you read the book,you will see that it is the incorruptible scientists who left government service in droves in protest over being muzzled, misquoted, intimidated, and shut out from mainstream research, by political watchdogs who created "stove pipes" for politically correct results. It was mainly the policy watchdogs who revised and censored extensively. There were indeed a few scientists who were corrupted by their religious or political beliefs, just as other professions are. But they were in the minority. Some were given power. A small number were discredited.

This whole issue needs greater public airing. For example, how many of the average voters in America are aware of the issues addressed on this page? From the data reported, the unaware group is large enough to swing an election one way or the other. Is it not appropriate to try enlightening them?

Posted by RoadToPeace on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 18:52:41

It is easy to forget that science is a bit different from other professions in that scientists are tested by the quality of their science, not their politics, religion or mammon. In other words, their careers are defined by the reproducibility of their data and results. At the same time, being human, scientists can err, or even be devious. Unlike other professions, science has a built-in system of checks and balances that distinguishes between those who are right and the charlatans. The latter lose influence, even livelihood, unlike politicians or businesspeople. It is rare for a scientist to overcharge clients (or lie to the public); it is their managers (or political filterers and spin doctors) who do.

When a scientist cannot report his/her research, or see it corrupted, what choice does an ethical scientist have? S/he can resign, or go with the system. Is resigning a political statement? Is staying? Given time, sound data and interpretations, science has won the day against ideology of whatever ilk. This is the history. It is the set-backs that need to guarded against with vigilance. Not going along with the spin doctors is merely being patriotic; it is a vote against bias and spin.

Posted by RoadToPeace on Friday, July 18, 2008 at 21:11:43

Scientists are citizens are they not? Why can they not exercise their freedom of speech?

We use "droves" in a relative sense. Read this book carefully and you will see numerous resignations, some with published letters; many early retirements happened also because of the politicization. Not much of it was reported in the press.

Neutrality in science refers to science, not to freedom of speech. Peer reviews are strong barriers to biasing results. A scientist who lets his emotions interpret his/her data soon loses credibility.

What goes into setting a price? Cost examples include:

1 materials, energy, and labor (including benefits)
2 facilities rent, taxes
3 amortizing sunk research costs
4 license fees
5 management overhead
6 marketing, commissions, advertising
7 Legal fees protecting patent rights and their escalating maintenance fees for some two decades.

With cost information such as this in hand, the responsible executive setting a price will add enough profit to tide the company over in hard times while returning dividends to stockholders--all after taxes.

Yes, we have said before, some "scientists" are charlatans.

A more general question: Where would the world be today without its scientists? Have the lawyers and politicians added to our safety, comfort, and longevity like the scientists have? The answer to these is our perspective.

Posted by RoadToPeace on Friday, July 25, 2008 at 11:14:08

To your last paragraph, what is most responsible?

What kind of world would it be if:
national electrical and local grids, computers, telecommunication, telephone, radio and TV; autos, buses, trains, airplanes; medicines, food preservatives; modern materials science; all reverted to their levels of year 1600?

Was it not science that gave other sectors of society the tools needed for both war and peace? Damascus steel changed warfare just as the A bomb did. Who invented each? Who is more important to prosperity? The innovators, or those who employ their technologies?

Posted by RoadToPeace on Saturday, July 26, 2008 at 23:27:33

Comments among those above have been withdrawn by their author.

Posted by RoadToPeace on Thursday, December 03, 2009 at 23:41:02

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