This would’ve been a post on the irony of big money coercing the scientific world into bogus claims, like how facebook can be used to study human relationships; a mildly false allegation, compared to what exists out there when you type “fraud science” into google. Turns out, there’s Big Tobacco, Big Carbon, the Big Four, Big Brother and Big Ben, all of them involved in some kind of chicanery.
The first Big guy to f*** with the common people was the tobacco industry, going as far as establishing the Council for Tobacco Research. These guys tried to convince the public that smoking was not in fact related to serious illnesses and succesfully influenced millions of people for decades, before they were eventually dragged to court and defamed. While this (now) seems to be an open and shut case, similar battles are proving very hard to be won.
The greatest addictive substance may actually be refined sugar, and its negative impacts on human health have been shown time and again, but an unsweetened life just seems absurd. Even when searching for the most addictive substances, sugar will not pop up as one of the answers unless you specifically look for it, but research has shown that sugar works in similar ways with addictive drugs. Noone really wants to hold a campaign against processed sugar, which goes into your bread, sodas, chinese take out or frozen meals; also the sugar-coated pills everyone talks about is really not just a euphemism. This substance is everywhere and you would have to go to great lengths to truly avoid it. While some studies appear from time to time, there’s been no united front to the likes of the assault on the tobacco industry, likely because there is no single industry to attack.
How about when the enemy exists, you know where to find them, what they have done, what they’re still doing, who their friends and allies are, but you’re still buying into their businesses? We’re talking about big oil now, the fossil fuel industry that powers our days in and our nights out. When the singleton has no real option over their energy source, you wind up living alongside – and depend on – the “enemy”, by choice of a superior authority that determines when you are allowed to shift gears and how fast you can go. There’s no point going into detail on the damages caused by fossil fuel combustion; if you’re not already convinced about carbon and its role in climate change, this blog won’t do it for you. And although the mounting pile of evidence keeps toppling over and we keep making more piles to fit all our findings, the fossil fuel industry will not go down any time soon, as our puppet masters are not ready to move into clean energy yet. Renewables kind of go hand-in-hand with equity and there’s no business person alive who wants that, in all honesty.
Evidence-based science has been integral in shaping global policies and changing the way humans live and consume energy, water and food. In some cases, evidence can be genuinely produced through rigorous scientific methods, but the fact remains that scientific artefacts also exist out there. For any lay person, or even for experts, deceitful science can become believable if the right stakeholder supports it. We were all witnesses to a paranoia of misinformation during the pandemic and we all saw some of our favourite people falling into deep wells of conspiracy theories, fuelled by real, believable ambassadors. Ok fine, there were some lost fights right from the start, but a good share of the “resistance” was born out of despair and misinformation.
research* shows that doggos also benefit from post-party balloon deflation.
But enough of the pandemic, let’s imagine a more plausible scenario than a stingy virus bringing us to our knees and changing the way we live and breathe. Picture a research institution on the brink of closure, exposing hundreds of their staff to unemployment. They receive a multi-million offer to study the effects of red helium balloons on the success rate of birthday parties and mood improvement for adults after-hours. It’s a waste of time and money but it’s also a window of opportunity for the heads of the organisation to regroup and attempt to get more funding on what really interests them: impacts of helium and other noble gases on atmospheric composition. Would you not take on the stupid offer and say thank you?
So this post wasn’t really about the fraudsters in the scientific world, turns out it’s mostly about how conscientious science can be life saving, if only the mood is right.