[Paleopsych] Frank: Politics of science theme

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Fri Feb 18 13:49:06 UTC 2005

Frank, et al.,
I once consulted with a pharmaceutical research firm. We found that 
scientists were NOT being clear and direct in communications with each 
other about research. A scientist would present current progress on a 
line of research, and some other researchers would walk out of the 
meeting saying, "Well, that is a pretty stupid direction to go" but they 
would not challenge each other.

Divergent opinions are generally felt as threatening to the group, and 
it takes sustained effort to legitimize divergent opinions. We came up 
with "Robust Scientific Dialog" as a title for an organizational 
intervention that had some positive impact.


Premise Checker wrote:

> This is pretty alarming. I have long realized that certain facts will 
> be ignored (like innate racial differences in intelligence at the U.S. 
> Dept. of Education). I've realized that opposing viewpoints will not 
> be listened to (the unwinnability of the Viet Nam war). But to have 
> facts altered is something else.
> It's further alarming, since I'm a free marketeer and look favorably 
> upon big business as being triumphs, a la Ayn Rand. I don't think of 
> business vs. the exploited workers and consumers. I'm not interested 
> in equality and do not care if CEOs make 10 or 1000 times what the 
> workers make. I have little sense of envy. I do not want to take from 
> the productive and give to the non-productive. I do not want to bilk 
> tobacco companies for the follies of smokers. All these sorts of things.
> But this is more. What we're seeing is an extreme us-vs-them 
> mentality, where the businessmen now take this us-vs-them mentality 
> into politics. What THIS list needs to do is not to be alarmed or to 
> groan or to argue one side or the other but to EXPLAIN the widening 
> polarity.
> Tomorrow, in a different mood, I'm sure I can come up with an argument 
> that polarity is a good thing, that it has high entertainment value or 
> something such.
> At a personal level, here at the U.S. Department of Education, it's a 
> big disappointment. Last week, I went to a talk by the Director of the 
> Office of Technology. She gave an excellent presentation. During the 
> question period I said that distinguishing good from bogus information 
> on the Net would be the singly most important skill to have in the 
> world of 2025, when the current crop of kids in school are out of 
> school. The problem is that the most important skill of all is very 
> hard to measure. I urged that when the No Child Left Behind Act gets 
> extended to high school that the law be made more flexible to take 
> this difficulty of measurement into account.
> She answered by saying that a two-day conference could be held on this 
> very topic and that I asked a great question. However, she thought 
> that schools that could be teaching this kind of skill need not fear 
> running afoul of NCLB. I spent 10-15 minutes talking with her after 
> the meeting, too. I followed up with some e-mails of highly relevant 
> articles and further thoughts of my own.
> But since then: nothing. I think she got cold feet when she realized 
> that I might be dangerously independent (no, I'm not about to bring up 
> race differences) and would not tow the party line. I suspect that 
> she, too, wants to find out what the party line and then tow it, 
> rather than even hint that the party line needs clarification. No, I 
> don't mean that she really wants to do this--she clearly liked talking 
> to me--but that she has no choice.
> It is the case, in my experience anyhow, that Democrats are more 
> open-minded than Republicans. I say this even though I prefer 
> Republican policies, as least when there was a substantial difference. 
> I think it's because Democrats are much more goo-goo (good government) 
> types and want to improve something that they approve of, while 
> Republicans want to reduce or get rid of programs.
> I sense a divisiveness that has grown beyond this, though, and it's a 
> theory about the rise and fall of divisiveness that I'd like to 
> explore on this list, NOT about "this is what I want the world to be."
> On 2005-02-16, Michael Christopher opined [message unchanged below]:
>> Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005 11:50:07 -0800 (PST)
>> From: Michael Christopher <anonymous_animus at yahoo.com>
>> Reply-To: The new improved paleopsych list <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>> To: paleopsych at paleopsych.org
>> Subject: [Paleopsych] U.S. Scientists Say They Are Told to Alter 
>> Findings
>> U.S. Scientists Say They Are Told to Alter Findings
>> More than 200 Fish and Wildlife researchers cite cases
>> where conclusions were reversed to weaken protections
>> and favor business, a survey finds.
>> http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-scientists10feb10,0,4954654.story?coll=la-home-nation 
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