Politicization of science

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Politicization of science is the misuse of science to serve a political agenda. It occurs when interested parties assert as true, claims that are unsubstantiated or even known to be false, or when scientific facts or principles are suppressed because they contradict ideology.

  • ... the political process seems to have captured and often corrupted the integrity of the scientific research that is used to formulate policy, and inform policy decisions.[1]
  • It is a true perversion of the scientific process to find that skepticism is no longer welcome or accepted in scientific debate. [1]
  • Many modern AGW supporters believe that insinuating possible sources of bias is sufficient to exempt one from having to actually critique their opponents’ methods and findings. [ibid]

The two best known cases in the history of science concern the church's suppression of Galileo, whose findings were finally accepted by the Roman Catholic Church centuries later; and the Lysenko episode in the Soviet Union. The current top controversies are global warming and the theory of evolution.

Contents

Climate science

  • They've employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear. [2]

Homosexuality

  • In 1999, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a report on child sex abuse saying that sexual relations between children and adults are "less harmful than believed" and might actually "be positive for willing children." How could trained psychologists, let alone anyone in their right mind, suggest that sex between adults and children could be positive for the children? Luckily there was a huge uproar throughout society about this absurd conclusion. As a result the APA backed down and acknowledged that there was a serious problem with the study and that they should have been more careful in publishing the report in the first place. [3]

Homosexuality and AIDS

  • CDC originally classified the recently arrived Africans and Haitians as a separate category unto themselves, because it appeared that the disease was following a different pattern in their native countries from that in the United States. As the classification turned into a stereotype, however, the Haitian government lobbied the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a subunit of the U.S. Public Health Service, to "redesignate" this category.
  • At first the Haitian-African groups were shifted to the cases labeled "undetermined." But in July 1986 CDC arbitrarily placed them into the heterosexual category-despite strong evidence that many of the Haitians probably acquired the illness homosexually and that much of the transmission among Africans was also not attributable to heterosexual activity. [4]

Global warming

  • In Australia, the 2010-2011 Queensland floods resulted in 35 deaths and over $1 billion dollars in damage. Some senators and academics asserted that the floods were caused by global warming, and in particular, the coal industry. This link was used to justify calls to tax the coal industry as a higher rate, however the assertion of the floods being caused by global warming was revealed to be a selective and incomplete use of historical scientific data. Peter Westmore wrote:
The clearest evidence that the floods are part of the normal cycle comes from the data collected by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, which has been available for years on the bureau's web site. It has a page devoted specifically to the history of Known floods in the Brisbane and Bremer River Basin, including the cities of Brisbane and Ipswich. The record shows that since 1840, there have been five floods higher than that which recently inundated parts of Brisbane, three of them in the 19th century, long before there was any suggestion of global warming.[2]

Pesticide use

The best documented case in American history is the banning of DDT immediately after a hearing from the 1970s, in which it was shown to be safe when used as directed. In small quantities, DDT can even be eaten by human beings[Citation Needed] - it's not a poison like arsenic or cyanide but it is accumulated in bodies through the food chain affecting especially birds (see closer article DDT). The new EPA administrator disregarded the hearing results and unilaterally banned DDT. The ensuing U.S. ban put pressure on foreign governments to stop using DDT for mosquito control and ultimately led to a worldwide rise in the number of malaria cases, which thwarted efforts to control the spread of the disease. When the UN's World Health Organization reversed a longstanding ban on DDT in 2006, it did not admit that the ban was politically motivated, but instead labelled the cause as "increased health and environmental concerns" from the 1980s.[3]

Many other chemicals have been considered dangerous and banned for political reasons, often involving health scares. Also nuclear power and even the internal combustion engine have been targeted by partisans using junk science. Most recently, environmentalists refer to global warming to get internal combustion engine banned (see IPCC Summary for Policymakers). [4]

John Daly wrote:

  • ...we are dealing with a level of political corruption in these sciences which have abandoned the principles of open debate within science - indeed abandoned scientific method itself - and become more like a medieval religion, treating all critics as heretics to be censored and vilified. The disgraceful treatment of dissenting views, not just those of Lomborg, points to a serious disease of intolerance - paranoia even - of legitimate criticism, even to the extent of using the peer review system (which works passably well in other sciences) as an instrument of outright censorship against any critics. It is an intolerable situation in which the journals themselves are partly to blame. [5]

Climate

Fred Singer wrote:

  • The chief US negotiator Richard Benedick bragged that he was able to pull off the Montreal accord without any backing from science. I quote from his book Ozone Diplomacy: "Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the treaty was [that it] rested on scientific theories rather than on firm data." [6]

References

  1. Michael Crichton, Science Policy in the 21st Century
  2. Westmore, P. CLIMATE CHANGE: Floods caused by global warming: Bob Brown; News Weekly; 5th February, 2011
  3. World Health Organization, WHO Gives Indoor Use of DDT a Clean Bill of Health for Controlling Malaria; September 15th, 2006
  4. http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf IPCC, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers
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