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Steve Hansen: Be wary of who is funding scientific research

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Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 12:00 am

Can modern science be corrupted?

In today’s world, most tend to think of scientific conclusions as absolute. We assume ethical pathways to these unquestionable truths are always followed. In support of these perceptions, all of us have heard comments by zealous pundits such as, “All the scientists say ...” or, “Anyone who disagrees is a ‘denier.’”

But history has taught us a different lesson about the purity of science — especially when it is funded by those with political agendas. Take Nazi Germany, for example.

Research financed by the Third Reich had the primary purpose of supporting ideology promoted by the ruling party. Science did not exist to find unbiased truth, but rather to support the powerful with conclusions that they wanted to hear. It was a way to justify predetermined beliefs.

Scientists had to show results within this limited perspective or lose funding. Public ridicule, banishment from the profession, imprisonment and even death were all possibilities for those who went against the common wisdom.

The Nazis were out to prove the superiority of their mythical Aryan origin. University scientists, social scientists and anthropologists “cherry picked” data in order to support the idea of a “master” race, and that “pure” Germanic people were all direct descendents of it. Racial research “proved” that they were the oldest on Earth. Science was used to justify a number of governmental policies, ranging from rules for procreation to the extermination of the Jewish people.

The Nazis did not view themselves as evil, but rather as saviors of the human race. Their research supported beliefs that “purification” of bloodlines was necessary if mankind was to survive for another 1,000 years.

When distorted science was joined with a charismatic and powerful political leader, disaster occurred. Emotions ruled over reason. Group-think overpowered individual thought.

One result was a stand-out scientist named Albert Einstein, who left the country shortly before widespread persecution of the Jews began. His unique views on relativity were seen by the regime as threatening.

The Nazis had their own scientific theories. One was called the “Cosmic Ice Theory” — a belief that ice was the basis of all cosmic development in the universe. They saw this concept as the antithesis to what was referred to as “Jewish science.” Heinrich Himmler was reported as saying that one could not be a good National Socialist without supporting this “scientific” thinking.

Nazis used Darwinism to bolster their beliefs and to justify waging war. Adolf Hitler believed strongly in the “survival of the fittest” concept. The animal kingdom was at war for species dominance, and in his view, so was man. Only the strongest would survive.

In order to support his dogmatic thinking, the Nazis attacked traditional Christianity and tried to replace it with a secular belief system loyal to the party. They used the movie industry to influence the masses toward Hitler’s view of the world. Children were indoctrinated from an early age in schools and youth organizations.

But what does a study of history from 70 to 80 years ago have to do with modern science?

Whenever government leaders with political agendas join forces with the scientific community via researching funding, the results can run the risk of distortion and false conclusions. This can also apply to support by large corporations as well.

Scientists and their institutions are only human. It’s doubtful that a number of universities and researchers are willing to give up millions in monetary grants, as well as their livelihoods, by going against the grain of those who fund projects with expected predetermined outcomes.

Today, history could be partially repeating itself with agenda-driven, government-sponsored research. It may be simply cloaked within a different set of circumstances for a different set of political causes.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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Welcome to the discussion.

13 comments:

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:53 pm on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    [thumbup]

     
  • David Diskin posted at 8:09 pm on Sat, Feb 8, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    Steve, you're welcome to eschew science and all of its fruits.

    But please don't try to convince people with logical fallacies that science somehow leads to wasted tax dollars or the holocaust.

     
  • David Diskin posted at 8:05 pm on Sat, Feb 8, 2014.

    David Diskin Posts: 183

    By bringing up Nazis, I was thinking he sounded more like Glenn Beck.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 2:34 pm on Thu, Feb 6, 2014.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1521

    As Global Climate Change because increasingly obvious and excepted those that have denounced it become more shrill. Really Steve Nazis? It must be tough for the extreme right, everything appears to be going wrong for them legal pot, gay marriage, record temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Obama elected twice Hillary leading the pack. and now conservative Governors imploding all around us no wonder they feel the end is near for them it just may be.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:40 am on Thu, Feb 6, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I never said I was "defending" this "science," Mr. Paglia. You are reading between the lines.

    What I am saying is that statements such as GWB made are used primarily to strike fear in the public, not to get them to "research" what any of this type of experimentation is being used for - as if experimentation or research in these fields are for the purpose of creating a whole new species a la "Planet of the Apes."

    And from YOUR statements, it sounds as if YOU believe scientists are bent on creating a world filled with these hybrids that will be walking around and interacting with humans, or, God forbid, plotting a take over of the Earth. For what purpose?

    You are probably too young to have received the smallpox vaccine, but I'm sure you have had the polio vaccine. See if you can read up on these and find out what they are and how they are made.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 2:40 pm on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2024

    So the fact that countries are now DOING animal/human hybrid experiments, and that least two states are looking to ban the testing is fear mongering?

    Bush never said we had to "Beware" of them, he said we need to avoid ALL human cloning for experimentation purposes. BIG difference. It is not trying to catch you in a lie. It is clarifying a statement. Unless you deliberately changed the wording in an attempt to mislead. Then that is fibbing.

    Side fact: In one article I was reading the embryos are spliced together, kept until thy prove they are viable, then destroyed. That is the "science" you are defending.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 1:54 pm on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Not really very "far," Mr. Paglia. I know that you like to try to catch me in a fib, but the bottom line is the same as I stated.

    GWB was fear mongering to the ignorant public by mentioning human-animal hybrids. The effect would be the same if he had stated that same-sex marriage would lead to people clamoring to marry their dogs, cats, and horses.

    The dumb-dumbs of the world would be up in arms.

     
  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:37 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2024

    When someone refers to an odd story I like to look up the information on it before I respond. Let's take Ms. Bobin's recent "Now he's sounding like GWB who, during one of his SOTU speeches, declared that we should beware of "animal-human hybrids.""

    Here was what GWB actually said
    "to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos."

    GWB was wanting to ban medical "research" that would attempt to splice multiple Earth species into one "for the sake of research". Far different than the "Beware of" message that Ms Bobin represented.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:24 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    "uninformed, ignorant, drooling, crayon coloring people"

    I thought the LNS was moderating these comments. It seems that Mr. Kindseth, along with another, have made a great habit of using inappropriate and insulting language here rather than adding to any type of reasonable discussion.

    I hope "incapable of intelligent discourse" isn't a no-no. It certainly describes the comment below.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:18 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    [thumbup]

     
  • John Kindseth posted at 8:14 pm on Tue, Feb 4, 2014.

    John Kindseth Posts: 243

    Good Job Steve. Even the most uninformed and ignorant person will know how to follow the federal tax money, grants and wasted "research money". Follow the crooked trail of tax money---even the most ignorant and uninformed will see how "scientific research" grants will have to end. They will find that the results and payoffs in "research" wll be in favor of the people who pay the bills. right wing, leftists, pinkos, conservatives and all others from both sides. It is easy to waste taxpayers money since taxpayers don't feel the direct pain. Good Job ! I hope the Ignorant realize how much they pay for useless research about hummingbird toenails and other such worthless research projects. If it was worthwhile, companies would be doing it. Best wishes with the drooling, crayon coloring people who don't approve of the obvious crooked "scientific research" money..

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 10:03 am on Tue, Feb 4, 2014.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 548

    It looks to me like he was actually (although inadvertently) making the case that gut-based "theories" like world ice theory and creation are farces that can be exploited by leaders, like Nazis or evangelicals, for their political and power gain to the denigration of science and scientific thinking, ascribing the latter as a conspiracy led by "Jews" or, *gasp*, liberals.

    He also misled with a citation after he read the wikipedia page on world ice theory... the propaganda ministry said the opposite, that one COULD be a Nazi without believing in world ice theory.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welteislehre

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:28 am on Tue, Feb 4, 2014.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    OK, this is the biggest load of BS that I have read from Dr. Hansen who seems to be digging himself further and further into some type of right-wing frenzy.

    Even DARING to compare any type of modern scientific research (and we know that he is talking about Global Warming here as he has previously written that it is a bogus "theory") to the horrific experiments performed under the reign of the Nazis, is way, way too ridiculous to put it mildly. I am sure I'd be censored if I used words that truly describe this nonsense column.

    Now he's sounding like GWB who, during one of his SOTU speeches, declared that we should beware of "animal-human hybrids."

    Best to go back to attempting your hand at satire, Dr. Hansen. As a so-called psychoanalyst, does the phrase, "Doctor heal thyself," ring a bell?

     

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