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Thursday, March 20, 2008


From an article in the Seattle Times courtesy of CCNet:

Here is a list of beliefs in the biomedical and climate sciences that must not be questioned if you're applying for a government grant:

• That global warming is caused by humans;

• That AIDS is caused by a virus;

• That radiation, cigarette smoke and other toxins are dangerous in proportion to their strength, no matter how small the dose;

• That heart disease is caused by saturated fats;

• That cancer is caused by mutations.

But much of science runs on government money. Some people find the stink of bias only in private money, and see government as free of it, but they are mistaken. Government likes certain beliefs. To get its money, you have to get the approval of the scientists it selects, and you are less likely to get it if they think your idea wrong.
I know nothing about heart disease or mutation but have blogged on these lines regarding the first 3. In all cases the actual evidence is zero, or with low level radiation the "official" LNT theory (linear no threshold) has been repeatedly proven to be statistically wrong.

The article continues with a 2005 quote:

"A half-century ago, breakthroughs were fairly common events in science," Pollack said in an interview. But who today are the equivalents of Linus Pauling in molecular biology, Jonas Salk in vaccines, Richard Feynman in physics, or James Watson and Francis Crick in the study of DNA? Said Pollack, "Where are the heroes of the past 30 years?"

James Watson has since been fired by Cold Harbour not for any failure in his work but for alluding, in an interview, to the undisputed fact that IQ tests in subsaharan Africa show average IQs of 70. The lecture he was due to give was canceled by the director of the British Science Museum not because it was untrue but because it goes "beyond the point of acceptable debate".
This shows that the article is, if anything, underestimating the degree of censorship in today's science & exactly how heroic those scientists who stand up for science against political censorship are.

• That heart disease is caused by saturated fats;

I gather that there is pretty persuasive evidence that it is not and, indeed, that the original paper that set this hare running was quite dishonest.

• That cancer is caused by mutations.

No idea, but I do wonder about the strangely over-important role played by cancer fears in American life.
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