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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Government Money vs. Science

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Writing for the James G, Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Edward Archer offers a disturbing bird's-eye view of "The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research." (HT: Steve D.) Interestingly, none other than President Dwight Eisenhower warned about the problems government money could cause in his 1961 farewell address.

Archer's is definitely a read the whole thing kind of piece, so here's the tip of the iceberg:

Duke.jpg
Archer notes two major instances of research misconduct at Duke University. (Image by NPatrick6~commonswiki, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)
Incompetence in concert with a lack of accountability and political or personal agendas has grave consequences: The Economist stated that from 2000 to 2010, nearly 80,000 patients were involved in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted.

Beginning in 2013, my colleagues and I published a series of empirical refutations in top medical and scientific journals showing that no human could survive on the diets used by the U.S. government to create the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To be precise, we demonstrated that the methods used by government and academic researchers produced data that were physiologically implausible and inadmissible as scientific evidence.

Yet, rather than address the consequences of our refutations, academic researchers simply ignored the evidence. That lack of scientific integrity leads to evermore faculty and students using demonstrably implausible dietary data every year. Given that taxpayers fund thousands of meaningless studies that generate erroneous and often ridiculous conclusions (e.g., eggs cause heart disease or coffee causes cancer), it is unsurprising that policy architects and the public are confused about "healthy eating." [links in original, minor format edits]
There's more where that came from, and Archer offers some recommendations to begin to correct the mess. I think some of these might be good first steps -- but only if made part of a larger plan to remove government from all funding and supervision of science not clearly related to its proper function.

That said, naming a problem is the first step towards solving it, and for that alone, I am grateful to Dr. Archer.

-- CAV

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