Was there a time when scientists and researchers had an ethical obligation to seek facts, weigh them in the context of a known body of knowledge (that they've committed themselves to the study of) and work toward objective conclusions? Conclusions that, depending on their altruistic leanings, were often intended by their contributors to be of benefit to society, to enrich its fabric? I cringe when I hear politicians and glorified lobbyists evoke the credibility of the "scientific community" to promote their brand of ideology in a can. We no longer know who comprises this amorphous collective of experts. We no longer know to what standards, academically or ethically- these folks subscribe. This comes down to the simple problem that there is no longer an "Authority". When accountability leaves the building, authority runs out the back door.
When we hear someone cite studies and snatch stats, we have no idea where they are coming from, and chances are now they are coming from individuals who are being funded to say exactly-supposedly in conclusion- what they have been funded to say before their "objective" inquiry's toddlerhood. Want somebody in a white coat to claim the moon is a triangle, someone out there will do so. Its information for sale. Policy no longer responds to the needs of the governed, we no longer respond to information. We twist information to work for us. We lie to make a policy sound beneficial.
That's the way of "science" now. "Science" is being hijacked to support everything from reproductive health myths to debunking global warming. Any time some fool wants to justify support for the unthinkable, or the unnecessary, they can point to "science" and these propaganda spinning think tanks get to task. Essentially, this is "Science for hire". Research whores that are willing to hide their names behind an "entity" or "institute". There is no "Authority" because nobody is held accountable for what they do or say. Research with fries and a soda. Authority is gone, we cannot trust anyone with our interests anymore. That is the real troubling issue at hand. When "knowledge" is suspect-from labs to academia, from regulators to inspectors, from the media to the local supermarket.... how does the average American make time to learn truth while their tax money pays the salaries of those that should? (I can tell you a story about a meeting with an energy rep on ANWR where he did not know an elk from a caribou, and claimed the warmth from the pipelines helped the animals breed. Do you know what you pay him per year?)
Now even things that are basic to Americans like food and medical care fall into this discussion. Did the FDA independently and objectively determine that parents do not need to know about possible side effects from added hormones in almost all milk (BGH) or does Monsanto determine what is best for my child? Does the EPA determine what is best for my family, or do the power and utility companies, the chemical plants, the shameless polluters? Does your doctor behave as an "authority" you can trust when he/she receives incentives to prescribe questionable drugs, or limit your care for kickbacks received to "keep down costs"? Vioxx, anyone?
My friends, it was only a matter of time before the neo-cons stopped hating scientists for debunking their stories and decided instead to wine and dine them into bed. Our government has been using the ruse of science for years to support bad policy and misguided environmental stewardship. OF COURSE they will now find scienstists to say that abortion causes cancer, lesbians get osteoporosis, atheists are more likely to have a third cousin with a webbed toe.
I'm waiting for a study that reading books, going to college, or writing BLOGS causes nymphomania......