“BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR SCIENTISTS”
[NOTE: This editorial was first published by Jim Beers on March 13, 2013 in “The Pen,” a monthly newsletter of CST Talk Radio out of California, Missouri. It is republished with permission. Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the “theft” by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He currently lives in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife “of many decades.”]
As the debate on requiring background checks for gun sales rages, I submit that background checks should be mandatory for scientists that sell their research to government bureaucracies.
A recent news article in The Washington Post (of all places) describes a former scientist at Johns Hopkins University that became embroiled in the controversy over growing scientific research retractions coinciding with the competition for available government grant dollars.
The tainted and slanted research that was going increasingly unquestioned, concerned cancer drugs and genetic relationships. The scientist found that questioning results based on incomplete testing and ignoring applicable factual references resulted in his being disciplined, his eventually being fired and the suicide of a colleague asked to verify the unverifiable science purported to be reliable.
The number of research articles retracted in the field of biomedical research has increased “tenfold since 1975”. Two thousand of these retracted scientific papers were reviewed and it was determined that “67% were attributable to misconduct, mainly fraud or suspected fraud”. While government grant availability has increased since the 1960’s, when 2 out of 3 requests were funded: today only one out of 5 requests are funded. Because jobs and funding for the researchers are really what is on the line today, shoddy and cheap “science” to give government grant administrators what they want is the only guarantor of future funding preferences.
If potentially human life-threatening aspects of cancer drugs relative to the genetics of those afflicted with cancer can be misrepresented, what is sacred anymore? Eventual lawsuits by wealthy families suspecting misuse of drugs or malpractice as the cause of losing a loved one might well punish these “scientists” publishing misleading and self-serving results. Yet these charlatans are evidently not deterred. If this is so, what about all the environmental/animal “rights” “science” purchased by government since “the 1960’s”?
When “science” tells us that logging “must” be stopped; or grazing is “bad”; or hunting “unbalances the environment”; or predators “balance” the environment; or “native” species “belong” everywhere; or dams “must” be removed; or roads “disturb” grizzly bears; or fatal attacks by predators are the “fault” of those killed; or lethal control of predators is “ineffective”; or pipelines “disturb” species X; or sage grouse are “in danger”; or bats are “disappearing”; or wildfires are “good”; or Sanctuaries and Wilderness are “beneficial”; or that only more federal jurisdiction over water or more federal land ownership or easement control of private property will do X, Y, and Z: other than pandering for more federal funding, what possible down side is there for unscrupulous ”scientists”?
When federally-protected grizzly bears kill hikers, no scientist or bureaucrat is responsible. Ditto when wolves decimate big game herds and force ranchers out of business and diminish the quality of rural life. Ditto when logging communities are decimated and unmanaged forests result in fewer and fewer of the critters supposedly saved by eliminating logging. Ditto when federal lands are closed to use and roads and access only to burn down and kill neighbors while their homes and belonging are destroyed. All the faulty environmental/animal “rights” “science” since “the 1960’s” has bred a national nightmare to rival the corruption of human life-saving biomedical research that has become less and less reliable.
Until and unless the federal-influence spigot to Universities and research organizations is turned way down or off, corruption is inevitable. The spigot won’t be turned off until the US Congress stops funding and writing laws that imagine laws and regulations that are triggered by or act only upon “science”. Think Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Animal Welfare Act, Wilderness Act, and other such laws that absolve all involved humans of any responsibility while pointing always to “science” as the reason and trigger for un-Constitutional and anti-human actions by a government of men supposedly bounded by a Constitution. This is an especially important matter for rural Americans today.
The federal laws will not be amended or repealed until we elect federal legislators that respect the Constitution and have our best interests at heart. Federal Legislators will not do the right thing until State Legislators and Governors stand their ground (think Wyoming and wolves as a role model here). State Legislators and Governors with our best interests at heart come from Local elected officials like Commissioners, Supervisors and Sheriffs. The time to get this food chain going is right now. I won’t repeat that old Chicago canard about “voting early and often” but I will say we have to vote and vote for this aspect of our lives and liberty. Letting bureaucrats and “scientists” rule us is akin to letting Druid priests read bones or Shamans stare into smoke as a basis for national decisions. As Dirty Harry once remarked about his boss’s breath mint “it ‘ain’t’ cutting it”
Jim Beers can be reached (and his newsletter can be obtained) by contacting: email@example.com
11 thoughts on “Beers Takes on Normative “Science” and the US Hagiarchy”
I can’t even imagine what this country would look like if this person had his way. There is corruption in the nature of humans.That is not to say that all laws and principles created by humans, environmental or otherwise are corrupt. Possibly this person should find another land where there are no laws, where the government simply turns it’s back on progressive notions and lets the chips fall where they may.
I did not follow the author’s line of reasoning. The author did not state what Articles or clauses of the Constitution he felt were being violated by any of the statutes noted. He did not provide evidence for any of his vague accusations. This felt more like a laundry list of his definition of “shoddy and cheap science,” but it did not really help me understand the root or substance of his concerns with federal funds being used for scientific research. What sort of background check is he proposing exactly? What are the criteria that would meet his standard for scientists to receive funding?
Frankly, this is just a crock of ___t.
He lived out of the federal and state troughs for much of his career, and then obviously got crosswise with someone in authority.
Really believe he has been brain-washed by the Tea Party fanatics. Everything wrong with the good ole’ USA is the feds. The states have all the answers. HA.!! Some of the states are approaching the Islamic nuts in their removal of basic citizen rights.
I really don’t believe we need to have crap like this spread on this site. We are not into extreme politics, are we?
To paraphrase some of the junk pseduo-science in this article, where is the science that the forests require frequent and regular logging, where is the science that proves that dams are good for fish, and where is the science that proves the cattle are the best way to manage fragile western semi-desert ranges, and where is the science that fire is always good for all sites in all ecoregions, etc. etc. etc.
A rant that doesn’t get any respect from me. Bob may love it, but I hit the “delete” key.
So basically, we should go back to the “rape, pillage, plunder and discard” era of land management, strip-mining the planet’s resources without concern for ecological consequences or long-term sustainability and with the view that this planet exists exclusively for our economic benefit and anything which gets in the way of extracting the maximum economic benefit in the minimum amount of time is bureaucratic pandering.
What utterly ridiculous nonsense. Gifford Pinchot would be rolling over in his grave at the idea that the Forest Service should be connected with such a mentality.
“The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations.”
Travis, I think the author was critiquing the way “science” is used and abused in Legal World, from his background as a scientist.
So none of us on this blog want to destroy the environment, but we might have legitimate disagreements about whether a 600 acre thinning project does that. It’s a long way to me from questioning science abuse to advocating destruction of Earth.
Also please don’t use the term “rape”. I would have edited it out if I hadn’t been on vacation. Here’s why …
from my piece in High Country News here.. titled “all forests are sluts”
I didn’t quite follow the Constitutional part of Jim’s rant either, but I liked it nontheless.
Part of my job involves evaluation of “science” submitted by the public. Quite often the “public” (usually enviro groups) submits “science” that counters agency “science”, pitting the discussions in a “mine is better than yours” ordeal. Luckily, the courts have generally deferred to the action agencies in terms of science used to support a proposal.
The law requires that due consideration is given to “science” submitted by the public. There are some folks that (ab)use this to their advantage in filibuster fashion. I have a 65 page spreadsheet of links to “science” submitted by ONE, yes ONE person (not an enviro group) and the Agency’s consideration of how the submissions were considered. Interestingly, this person also accuses the Agency of wasting taxpayer dollars, even though hundreds of person-hours are spent responding to his/her comments on EVERY project. By the way, just about all of this person’s submissions would qualify as normative science. He/she hasn’t won challenge on appeal, to my knowledge.
For grins, scale that up a few notches, add in the “reputable” environmental groups’ comments to that mix and you’ll have an idea of why project planing takes so long.
As far as the “normative” science….I’d argue that it’s essential to communications. As an example, the technical/scientific concepts of forestry/forest management haven’t changed in decades. The political buy-in certainly has though. Cutting a tree is cutting a tree is cutting a tree. The value judgement of WHY sure has.
My question is what’s the difference if cutting a tree is to send it to the mill vs. “reducing fuels”, vs. “restoring the forest”, vs. “improving resilience”, and so on? The end result on the ground is the same, regardless of why. The “science” of putting a harvest unit on the ground is pretty straightforward. The “flavoring” of why is often altogether different.
That’s where I agree with Jim above. There’s a veritable “science soup” available to anyone who chooses to challenge a proposal. Tightening down on the sideboards of science submission, credibility and use would go a long way towards consistency and keeping the playing field level.
Very interesting JZ. “Hundreds of hours responding to one mans comments.” I was looking at one EIS where the “response to comments” had almost as many pages as the EIS!
If someone had the time, it would be fun to compare some of these “submitted comments” from one EIS to another…and see how much, if any, of it is “cut and paste” word for word.
Ed, can I assume that you’ve been brainwashed by “left wing communist fanatics?” I don’t really blame you, since I’ve felt the same way, and have expressed it in the past, and even quit over some of Mathew’s posts. It’s intersting to see the response on this blog recently to Bob’s posts, which are perhaps a more “inflammatory” (not right word) representation of our point of view than Sharon’s. Now certainly you defend Matt’s right to post his “inflammatory” posts (not right word). I think Bob’s posts provide a nice balance to Matt’s posts. Here’s a toast to the “Matt and Bob show,” or should it be the “Bob and Matt show.” I think we should both be tolerant…and yes…if we don’t like what’s on, we can always change the channel.
I have no idea why my name is being dragged into this. However, since it is, and since Derek is giving the impression that my posts here on this blog have somehow crossed the line I would invite Derek to provide some actual examples here, so that people can see these examples and make up their own mind. Otherwise, Derek is just spreading accusations and allegations without any proof or examples, and that practice on this blog by some commenters is getting older by the day. Thanks.
Hey, Matt: My name got dragged in, too! I think Derek was mostly trying to be complimentary, and I’m guessing the word he may have been looking for was “provocative.” Both you and I like to actively provoke thought and discussion — and we both have distinctly different viewpoints — so I think he was being (mostly) encouraging.
Thursday this blog set a new record for Visitors, 455, and the second highest total Views ever (789). I don’t think we’d ever had even 300 Visitors in a day before, and the largest share of this increase seems to have been Char Miller’s post regarding the new USDA symbol and directive. Lots of USFS activity — especially among retired members — so near as I can tell.
Another interesting number is the total 245,000 Views since this blog was started in late 2009 — as you pointed out in an earlier Comment, we are getting pretty near the significant “1/4 million” mark. For the past year about 96% of the Views (97,514) came from the US — which seems reasonable, since the focus of these posts regard the USFS. Next were Canada (2,071), UK (1,351), and India (1,314), which all seems reasonable. Of seemingly greater interest was the total number of Views from China during the past year — 1. Other countries only having 1 View of this blog during the past 12 months include Azerbaijan, Barbados, Monaco, Niger, Gambia, and Chad.
Don’t get so defensive Matt. My point is, or was, that Bob’s posts are a good balance to your posts. I assume you both now have “posting power.” Sharon never represented the timber industry or those affected by enviro conflict. Bob represents that point of view quite nicely.You have your venue, now we have ours.
My other point is your posts tick some of us off, and Bob’s posts tick some of you guys off. I’d call that a pretty typical symptom and a microcosm of 20 years in the West. You’re not going to convince me and I’m not going to convince you, so the real point of this blog, in my mind, is winning the “hearts and minds” of outside viewers. Therefore I find argueing with you to be a useless endeavor, or argueing with anyone here to be a useless endeavor. I don’t post for you, but for others, so it’s not worth getting the blood to boiling is it. Frankly, I don’t read most of your posts because it just upsets me…and life’s to short for that. I get enough of that at my “real job.”
I guess that was my point to Ed…why get your blood boiling over a post by the opposition. When I see one of your posts come up…I just change the channel. But hey…I’ve certainly vented in the past haven’t I, so I can relate to Ed’s feelings.
I deal with contractors in the heavy construction industry…compared to them, you guys are cup cakes. There’s plenty of blunt talk,sharp tones,raised voices,disagreement,intense preasure…but when the next job starts, we’re all friends again. In that world it’s all about respect. What’s life without gaining the respect of others. Nobody has any respect for the screamers. The screamers never last. I used to be a screamer until one day I heard a job super from across the site screamin at some laborers and I said to myself, “What a dumba__”, then it dawned on me that’s how I sound when I lose it. No respect.I never saw that superintendant again. People tend to quit when screamed at. Bosses don’t respect a super who drives off the help. Oh I still feel the beast rising up in the belly all the time but….I would imagine that’s the one thing this group cound find “common ground” on! LOL.
No offense meant to you, Bob, or Ed.
I wouldn’t spend any time on this blog if everyone thought the same as I did and all posts/comments were about what I wanted to hear. That would be pretty boring. I quite welcome differing opinions and viewpoints. They help me understand and even translate to my work in forest planning.
What sets this blog apart from others (ohhh…say “The Wildlife News”) is the diversity of content and comment, for better or worse.
Tree and Ed, I’d encourage you to continue commenting. You’ve both offered valuable insight and generated good discussion. Don’t let a couple random post or comments by a few folks discourage you.
Plus – the disagreements (Matt-Bob show) are occasionally entertaining.