[Coral-List] Don't be such a scientist

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 12 17:01:38 EST 2012

I would like to follow up on Gene’s latest and most thoughtful
post in an attempt to gain additional insight. Here is where 
my naivete may come into play so please bear with me. Let’s 
examine the tobacco comparison as Gene suggests.

"Many like to make comparisons with the tobacco industry case or 
point out that industry money may be funding some "skeptics and 
deniers." Is oil company money any different than government money? 
It seems both groups have a lot at stake". 

Was tobacco money different from government money in the case he 
describes above? I would say unequivocally, yes. Tobacco money was 
used to produce a designed statistical outcome and did just that. 
Data was cleverly manipulated and terms defined in such a way as to
advance a clear agenda. That being to protect the economic interests 
of the tobacco industry even if it was known to be at the peril of 
the public at large. The government money or money provided for medical
research had no such applied controls. It was research for the sake 
of research and if anything went out of its way to withhold judgement 
until such a time as it could no longer be denied or concealed. 

What exactly did government funded science have at stake that would 
have enticed them to skew their results? Why would the situation we 
have before us today be any different? 

In the end Gene may have it right when he asked if it were possible 
that somehow coral-listers are being manipulated. Scientists can 
certainly be as wrong and biased as anyone else. But if we are asked 
which group of scientists would be most likely to raise our concern, 
history may well provide all the clues we need to find the answer. 


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