By William M. Briggs – Re-Blogged From http://wmbriggs.com
What entity pours by far the most money into scientific research? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same entity that has been growing without bound, mercilessly muscling aside all competitors who would encroach into its space. It’s an entity which has a keen and abiding interest in the research it funds. An entity with desires. This entity cares results from its funded research turns out this way and not that.
No, not an oil company. Nay, not Apple corporation. Not even a pharmaceutical. It’s Uncle Sam!
Did you not know the scientists who receive Uncle’s lusciously large lasting grants are the same scientists who sit on the committees which award the grants? Conflict? It’s true the various wealthy agencies have a permanent and ever-burgeoning staff (see Parkinson’s Law and this) which shuffles the booty to and fro, but they’re advised by transient academics who today are at their home institutions standing erect with their hands out, and tomorrow are on the Metro to the NIH to sit (erect) in judgment of their peers.
Yes, the same people who award the grants are those that receive them.
Didn’t you know this? It’s true a man can’t award himself a grant, but he can give one to his pal and neighbor, and when its his pal and neighbor’s turn to sit on the review committee, he can and does return the favor.
But aren’t grants anonymous? Sure, some of them are. In the same way you think your online presence is anonymous. It takes almost a full minute of scrutiny in most cases to discover the name of the pleader. And many times there is no pretense of anonymity. This makes it easy to punish your enemies and boost your buddies.
What about the nature of the grants?
If the EPA solicits applications for the grant “Find something wrong with this power plant” do you think their pleadings will go in vain? No, sir, they will not. Dozens upon dozens of imploring missives will arrive at headquarters, all promising to finger the culprit. And do you think the investigations of the winner (and now richer researcher) will disappoint? No, sir, these investigations will not. Besides the ordinary willingness to please found in cooperative well-fed persons, there is also the promise of future monies for a job well done.
Not only will the researcher gladly suck at the government teat, strengthening his own bank account, but the researcher’s boss will benefit, too. For in each government gift is attached the miracle of overhead. This amounts to an additional 50% (more or less) of the grant’s value, a sum which goes to the researcher’s boss to spend as he pleases.
As he pleases, I say.
Overhead can be, and has been, spent on all nature of things. New offices and furnishings. Wintertime junkets to sunny uplands. Hiring of nephews and nieces. This overhead is very pleasing to the researcher’s Dean and the Dean’s guard of deanlettes. The Dean encourages grants for this reason, making sure to hire just those folks who are likely to bring in more government overhead.
The system feeds on itself.
For these and for many more similar reasons, the biggest conflict of interest in scientific research is government grants. It is an open scandal of monstrous proportions that scientists who receive government money do not declare that they might have been influenced, that they never admit their interest (beyond saying, “This grant was funded by grant xxx-yyy”).
And so we come to one of the most cowardly unethical asinine foolhardy pig-ignorant acts we have witnessed in the thing we used to call Science.
You can see the picture above. It’s being passed around by the juvenile simpleton—this is an provable accusation, not meaningless abuse—named Greg Laden. He would like to see Willie Soon fired from his job, because why? Because, and I quote the ass,
The research in question is the paper “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” written by Lord Monckton, Wille Soon, David Legates, and Yours Truly. See Climate Paper Causes Chaos, Angst, Anger, Apoplexy! (Hacking?) for more details.
Not one penny, not one iota of consideration of any kind, was received from any source for the writing of this paper. It was a labor of love, done on personal time (of which, for my heresies, I have mountains). We wrote and re-wrote, and re-wrote some more, then decided which journal might enjoy seeing the paper. CONTINUE READING –>