Sunday, December 13, 2009

Science is a Whore

If you're like me, this is just an obvious statement. However, everywhere in the media, science is portrayed as this community of dedicated professionals seeking the truth about the universe. People who question anything portrayed as scientific are labelled wackos, heretics or even worse Naturopaths.
Don't think an H1N1 shot is necessary? You're ignorant of science.
Don't believe that Global Warming is the harbinger of Armageddon? You're a right-wing stooge for big business.
In reality, there is no community voice from science. In order to make money, scientists must find a company willing to pay them for data manipulation or a university willing to fund their research. The justification for any scientific work is always money or politics. Pure science is simply a tool for selling a product or an idea.
Want to prove that your party's position is justified? You simply pay for a scientific poll. But how scientific can an opinion be? Doesn't matter as long as the sample size is big enough to make the results accurate to within +-2% 19 times out of 2o.

Just listen to this science fiction writer's account of trying to make a living as a marine biologist.
He spent ten years getting a bunch of degrees in the ecophysiology of marine mammals (how's that for unbridled optimism), and another ten trying make a living on those qualifications without becoming a whore for special-interest groups. This proved somewhat tougher that it looked; throughout the nineties he was paid by the animal welfare movement to defend marine mammals; by the US fishing industry to sell them out; and by the Canadian government to ignore them. He eventually decided that since he was fictionalising science anyway, he might as well add some characters and plot and try selling to a wider market than the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

There is much more but I'm neither a writer nor a scientist for a living. I can only squeeze blog entries between coaching soccer practice and carting kids to friends for play dates. This idea will be explored further but for now I'm off to change a rear-facing car seat to front-facing for my growing boy.