Wednesday, May 19, 2010

full vs. selective disclosure of funded science

Jack Stier at on disclosure in science...

"Commercialized" science distorts science, writes the Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) on the webpage of its "Integrity in Science" project. The very name of the project suggests that such science somehow inherently lacks integrity.

Attacks like these on industry-funded science are often cloaked in a call for simply more disclosure of the source of funding for a given study. And who could be against more disclosure?

The problem is that the only type of disclosure in vogue these days is that which comes from industry science....But if the source of funding really does suggest the possibility of bias, the "disclosure" advocates aren't giving us the whole story. They are focused only on one type of funding – one type of potential for bias. But disclosure can’t be selective.

Stier gives examples and then says...

This shoddy and uneven reporting happens all the time, but the conflicts aren't always so obvious. Countless studies are funded by foundations and, just like industry, foundations have a view of their own and an agenda to further....Other studies, produced by environmental activist groups...

The credibility of any study ought to be evaluated based on the substance of the report. Be it the science, or in this case, the policy arguments....

But if groups seeking greater regulation...are so concerned about disclosing conflicts, why aren't they crying foul...It seems these groups really aren’t concerned about conflicts. Rather, they are against the interests of the corporations that fund science – and they seek to discredit their science, regardless of the merits.


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