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Should academic research establishments be political?


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Posted (edited)

Standard academic and research establishments are becoming increasingly political. Top journals like Nature, Science, Lancet etc. all support the same political parties and ideologies. One example is Nature supporting Biden here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02852-x. Can one trust the objectivity (core principle required for hard science research) of Nature after it supports one political party over another?

Nature also constantly protects China as if it is a propaganda mouthpiece for China rather than a scientific magazine. It says that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis of coronavirus because that annoys China and we need China at all costs (e.g. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01383-3). In the aforementioned link, Nature implies that we need China's cooperation so we should not investigate China or try to hold it accountable for anything (including possible crime against humanity). 

Edited by Paimon
Moderator says my conjecture is a conspiracy theory that is not allowed here
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11 minutes ago, Paimon said:

Unfortunately the scientific establishment is hijacked by powerful political forces that want to subjugate humanity. No wonder more and more people are losing their trust in "science".

!

Moderator Note

We don't do conspiracy here. If you have some supportive evidence for this statement, present it, but you're not allowed to simply wave your hands and conjure up the subjugation of humanity. More rigor, please.

 
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11 minutes ago, Paimon said:

Standard academic and research establishments are becoming increasingly political. Top journals like Nature, Science, Lancet etc. all support the same political parties and ideologies. One example is Nature supporting Biden here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02852-x. Can one trust the objectivity (core principle required for hard science research) of Nature after it supports one political party over another?

Nature also constantly protects China as if it is a propaganda mouthpiece for China rather than a scientific magazine. It says that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis of coronavirus because that annoys China and we need China at all costs (e.g. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01383-3). In the aforementioned link, Nature implies that we need China's cooperation so we should not investigate China or try to hold it accountable for anything (including possible crime against humanity). 

Unfortunately the scientific establishment is hijacked by powerful political forces that want to subjugate humanity. No wonder more and more people are losing their trust in "science".

Nature's article supporting Biden was exceptional and due solely to Trump's egregious disparagement of science and encouragement of anti-science viewpoints, as was made clear at the time.  So it looks to me as if you've got cause and effect the wrong way round here.

 

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12 minutes ago, Phi for All said:
!

Moderator Note

We don't do conspiracy here. If you have some supportive evidence for this statement, present it, but you're not allowed to simply wave your hands and conjure up the subjugation of humanity. More rigor, please.

 

Okay i have deleted the last sentence since "conspiracy" is not allowed here. 

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23 minutes ago, Paimon said:

It says that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis of coronavirus because that annoys China and we need China at all costs (e.g. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01383-3). In the aforementioned link, Nature implies that we need China's cooperation so we should not investigate China or try to hold it accountable for anything (including possible crime against humanity). 

Where in that article does it state that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?

Where in that article, or any other Nature article, does it imply we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?

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14 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Nature's article supporting Biden was exceptional and due solely to Trump's egregious disparagement of science and encouragement of anti-science viewpoints, as was made clear at the time.  So it looks to me as if you've got cause and effect the wrong way round here.

 

What were the egregious disparagement of science by Trump? And based on what methodology did Nature decide that Biden was less egregious than Trump? Will Nature also be scrutinising Biden or is Nature's scrutiny only for Republican presidents?

7 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

Where in that article does it state that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?

Where in that article, or any other Nature article, does it imply we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?

"Allegations that COVID escaped from a Chinese lab make it harder for nations to collaborate on ending the pandemic — and fuel online bullying, some scientists say". What would you make out of that sentence? It's direct quote from that Nature article.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Paimon said:

"Allegations that COVID escaped from a Chinese lab make it harder for nations to collaborate on ending the pandemic — and fuel online bullying, some scientists say". What would you make out of that sentence? It's direct quote from that Nature article.

So the quote comes from some scientists. A scientific journal reporting on what some scientists say in the news section of that journal seems reasonable. 

Which of 'we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?' or 'we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?' do you suppose that sentence infers?

Edited by Prometheus
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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Paimon said:

Standard academic and research establishments are becoming increasingly political.

I suppose this partly depends upon what you mean by.

1) A standard academic establishment

2) A standard research establishment

3) Political.

 

Society is far more complex than you perhaps suppose so what are you counting in and what are you counting out ?

 

Since you are new here perhaps it is fair to warn you that you have a total of 5 posts allowed in your first 24 hours.

So use them wisely.

After this day you can post to your heart's content.

Edited by studiot
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28 minutes ago, Paimon said:

hat were the egregious disparagement of science by Trump? And based on what methodology did Nature decide that Biden was less egregious than Trump? Will Nature also be scrutinising Biden or is Nature's scrutiny only for Republican presidents?

There many articles about that and even a wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_administration_political_interference_with_science_agencies.

The only thing Biden had to do was basically not to do that. If you have missed the last year, there is a little thing called COVID-19 and one of the presidents said that it would go away on its own. Guess which one that was.

A colleague of mine basically characterized the left-right attitude to science the following (aptly, I might add): the left ignores science that hurts them politically. The right actively antagonizes and suppresses science.

The various science journals (which includes medical journals, btw. who were shocked by the Trump administration) typically do not protest because something does not align with them political. What they protest is the undermining of science, which includes muzzling of governmental scientists, limiting free research and data exchange, enforcing a worldview that simply is not grounded in reality (e.g. climate change denial, pandemic denial) and so on. Trump obviously is not the first one, there have been long standing challenges regarding e.g. evolution with creationist lawmakers, muzzling of climate scientists in Canada under the Harper government and so on.

Trump was egregious because how rapidly he dismantled agencies that were supposedly in place to protect folks but then on top it fell apart when he mismanaged the pandemic (by combining mostly useless actions with denial).

So going back to OP, if politics decides to shape science in their image by suppressing research and free thought, then absolutely science has to become politic to fulfil its core function, which is to extend knowledge.

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14 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

So the quote comes from some scientists. A scientific journal reporting on what some scientists say in the news section of that journal seems reasonable. 

Which of 'we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?' or 'we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?' do you suppose that sentence infers?

Quoting some scientists is not an issue here. The issue is not giving equal weighting on both sides of the story and not sufficiently quoting the scientists who argue for investigation on China. It's the bias of the "scientific journal".

If multiple scientists would argue for investigation on China and try to submit their work in Nature, do you think Nature will publish it? 

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1 hour ago, Paimon said:

Standard academic and research establishments are becoming increasingly political. Top journals like Nature, Science, Lancet etc. all support the same political parties and ideologies. One example is Nature supporting Biden here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02852-x. Can one trust the objectivity (core principle required for hard science research) of Nature after it supports one political party over another?

 

They didn’t. They supported one candidate over another, and explained why, and their justification was based on who supported science and who didn’t. But since rejection of science is basically the position of the GOP, it would be reasonable to do that, IMO.

How, exactly, does this affect their objectivity?

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1 minute ago, Paimon said:

Quoting some scientists is not an issue here. The issue is not giving equal weighting on both sides of the story and not sufficiently quoting the scientists who argue for investigation on China. It's the bias of the "scientific journal".

If multiple scientists would argue for investigation on China and try to submit their work in Nature, do you think Nature will publish it? 

If you read the article you will see it quotes the scientist who published a letter in Science (the journal) arguing that 'the idea of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leaking from a lab in China must be explored more deeply'. That's the very letter that has created this round of media attention, and likely ultimately led to your current scutinity.

So yes, Nature would publish it. Science certainly did.

Are you going to answer me as to which of 'we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis because it annoys China and we need China at all costs?' or 'we should not try to hold China accountable for anything, including possible crimes against humanity?' do you think that sentence supports? Or should i stop asking? Can i just conclude it was politically motivated hyperbole?

 

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13 minutes ago, CharonY said:

There many articles about that and even a wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_administration_political_interference_with_science_agencies.

The only thing Biden had to do was basically not to do that. If you have missed the last year, there is a little thing called COVID-19 and one of the presidents said that it would go away on its own. Guess which one that was.

A colleague of mine basically characterized the left-right attitude to science the following (aptly, I might add): the left ignores science that hurts them politically. The right actively antagonizes and suppresses science.

The various science journals (which includes medical journals, btw. who were shocked by the Trump administration) typically do not protest because something does not align with them political. What they protest is the undermining of science, which includes muzzling of governmental scientists, limiting free research and data exchange, enforcing a worldview that simply is not grounded in reality (e.g. climate change denial, pandemic denial) and so on. Trump obviously is not the first one, there have been long standing challenges regarding e.g. evolution with creationist lawmakers, muzzling of climate scientists in Canada under the Harper government and so on.

Trump was egregious because how rapidly he dismantled agencies that were supposedly in place to protect folks but then on top it fell apart when he mismanaged the pandemic (by combining mostly useless actions with denial).

So going back to OP, if politics decides to shape science in their image by suppressing research and free thought, then absolutely science has to become politic to fulfil its core function, which is to extend knowledge.

How did Trump suppress research and free thought? On the contrary, is Trump not the one being suppressed and censored (e.g. deplatformed for all social media etc)? You also mentioned that he made a mistake of saying that the virus will go away on its own. Fauci, with decades of experience in virus, said in early days that wearing mask was not effective. So that mistake (especially from the expert in the field) is fine but Trump was so egregious that Nature had to get political? Finally, from a scientific methodology point of view, how does one measure the level of egregiousness? On what basis can a "scientific" argument be made that Trump is more egregious than Biden?

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1 hour ago, Paimon said:

Nature also constantly protects China as if it is a propaganda mouthpiece for China rather than a scientific magazine. It says that we should not debate the lab leak hypothesis of coronavirus because that annoys China and we need China at all costs (e.g. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01383-3). In the aforementioned link, Nature implies that we need China's cooperation so we should not investigate China or try to hold it accountable for anything (including possible crime against humanity). 

If that’s your best example, you’ve got nothing. It’s a report about others, not Nature taking a position. More rigor is needed on your part for your accusations

19 minutes ago, Paimon said:

The issue is not giving equal weighting on both sides of the story

Stories don’t always merit equal weight on both sides. If there’s a story on the earth being an oblate sphere, equal weight need not be given to flat-earthers. “both sides” is not a justification in and of itself.

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53 minutes ago, Paimon said:

What were the egregious disparagement of science by Trump? And based on what methodology did Nature decide that Biden was less egregious than Trump? 

 

If you had read the Nature article, you would not need to ask me. 

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7 minutes ago, Paimon said:

On the contrary, is Trump not the one being suppressed and censored (e.g. deplatformed for all social media etc)?

I wasn’t aware that Nature (or any science journals) were behind this. Trump was de-platformed for documented reasons. If he didn’t lie incessantly, his accounts might still be active.

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Quite often it is the perception of an opinion, or event, that politicise that opinion, not the intent of the people offering the opinion..
This might have more to do with a perceived inequality of opinions/articles, by you, where none actually exists; IOW,look in the mirror.

As for the origins of SARS-COV2, by all means, it needs to be investgated; It is certanly fair to criticise the Chinese government for their actions ( excessive secrecy, human rights violations, predatory economic policies, 'bullying of other nations in SE Asia, etc ), but not of Chinese people.

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Perhaps just a minor point, but these articles are not science papers, they are part of the news section. If someone found valid scientific evidence for an accidental release (whatever it may look like), it will for sure be published in a highly ranked journal as it is clearly a hot topic.

2 hours ago, Paimon said:

Fauci, with decades of experience in virus, said in early days that wearing mask was not effective. So that mistake (especially from the expert in the field) is fine but Trump was so egregious that Nature had to get political?

I doubt this argument is in good faith, but for those interested I will say that a) epidemiological studies in the past on respiratory diseases such as influenza had mixed results and were generally much lower than e.g. hand sanitizing; b) significantly better effects were seen when symptomatic patients wore masks and c) effectiveness was also sometimes quite low because many folks in theses studies did not wear the masks consistently or correctly.

In addition to this, there were other factors that came into play at the time masks were not recommended: a) the assumed infection numbers were still low (which might have been an underestimate base on what we know now) b) folks did not know that pre-symptomatic spread was likely significant, c) supply chain issue limited access even for health care professionals.

So in total the risk assessment at that point was pointing toward the fact that mask wearing was likely not helpful. The calculation shifted once it became clear that a) large scale contact tracing failed, b) even folks without symptoms could spread, making it much more important that everyone masks up.

In other words, the messaging was based on risk assessment using available info and changed once new information came up.

The other example that you provided is acting on virtually no information and then keep denying reality even as bodies piled up. No one looking at facts would see equivalency there.

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3 hours ago, Paimon said:

Fauci, with decades of experience in virus, said in early days that wearing mask was not effective. So that mistake (especially from the expert in the field) is fine but Trump was so egregious that Nature had to get political?

It was, as you say, the early days, and it was not known how the virus spread. CharonY has given details above.

Fauci publicly corrected himself. Has Trump? Ever? What business does a politician have offering their own views on matters outside their expertise? Especially when the view is that a serious situation is a hoax?

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5 hours ago, Paimon said:

Okay i have deleted the last sentence since "conspiracy" is not allowed here. 

Sure it is!! If you are able to support it with credible evidence.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Paimon said:

 On what basis can a "scientific" argument be made that Trump is more egregious than Biden?

On the present subject of the pandemic, Trump said something along the lines of injecting disinfectant, and during many of his meetings/addresses/gatherings etc, mask wearing and social distancing was not evident. He also ignored the advice of science in many other areas, particularly with regard to pollution and climate change. Biden does not seem to be egregious at all, despite your inferences, and is following the science, and the recomendations of science as our knowledge of this virus improves.

Of course, I speak as an outsider [not from the USA] but it is worth noting that even my own right of center government, generally ignored/sniggered at/or outright laughed at some of the antics of Trump when he was in power, a reaction that also seemed to be from the rest of the world in general. His extreme reaction/s and his inactions many times over, when he was in power, seemed to reflect on him as an extreme politically reactionary red neck ratbag to put it mildly.  

My only criticism of Biden is his age. He appears to be doing pretty well and has rightly taken action in undoing some of the anti science nonsense that Trump egregiously initiated.

Edited by beecee
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On 6/5/2021 at 2:17 AM, Paimon said:

 On what basis can a "scientific" argument be made that Trump is more egregious than Biden?

The following details how and why Trump was being egregious in the extreme in ignoring the science, and how Biden followed the science.

https://phys.org/news/2021-06-biden-administration-key-environmental.html

JUNE 5, 2021

Biden administration will restore key environmental protections:

The administration of President Joe Biden on Friday announced it would restore protections under the Endangered Species Act, a law credited with saving iconic animals like the gray wolf and bald eagle, which were loosened by his predecessor Donald Trump.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Hope that helps.

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On 6/4/2021 at 4:06 PM, CharonY said:

Perhaps just a minor point, but these articles are not science papers, they are part of the news section. If someone found valid scientific evidence for an accidental release (whatever it may look like), it will for sure be published in a highly ranked journal as it is clearly a hot topic.

I doubt this argument is in good faith, but for those interested I will say that a) epidemiological studies in the past on respiratory diseases such as influenza had mixed results and were generally much lower than e.g. hand sanitizing; b) significantly better effects were seen when symptomatic patients wore masks and c) effectiveness was also sometimes quite low because many folks in theses studies did not wear the masks consistently or correctly.

In addition to this, there were other factors that came into play at the time masks were not recommended: a) the assumed infection numbers were still low (which might have been an underestimate base on what we know now) b) folks did not know that pre-symptomatic spread was likely significant, c) supply chain issue limited access even for health care professionals.

So in total the risk assessment at that point was pointing toward the fact that mask wearing was likely not helpful. The calculation shifted once it became clear that a) large scale contact tracing failed, b) even folks without symptoms could spread, making it much more important that everyone masks up.

In other words, the messaging was based on risk assessment using available info and changed once new information came up.

The other example that you provided is acting on virtually no information and then keep denying reality even as bodies piled up. No one looking at facts would see equivalency there.

There was certainly a lot of grey areas, but tha risk assessment was less scientific than it should have been. 

Plenty was known about masks, and enough about the virus to know that N95+ masks should be more effective than lesser ones and lesser ones better than nothing, all other things being equal, including to the wearer. This was denied, or implied to be otherwise, due to a political agenda. That's not scientific, no matter how well intended or for what purpose.

Same goes for climate change denial or claims our existence is threatened by climate change within 12 years. Neither is a reasonable scientific assessment, yet both are spouted by politicians claiming to be scientific, in ways no data (or common sense) supports.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

There was certainly a lot of grey areas, but tha risk assessment was less scientific than it should have been. 

Plenty was known about masks, and enough about the virus to know that N95+ masks should be more effective than lesser ones and lesser ones better than nothing, all other things being equal, including to the wearer. This was denied, or implied to be otherwise, due to a political agenda. That's not scientific, no matter how well intended or for what purpose.

Same goes for climate change denial or claims our existence is threatened by climate change within 12 years. Neither is a reasonable scientific assessment, yet both are spouted by politicians claiming to be scientific, in ways no data (or common sense) supports.

Many/most people didn't/don't understand that the point of masks is to inhibit widespread diffusion of breathe spray. Even now, I hear people say they aren't bothered about catching it, when in fact the issue is them spreading it by not wearing a mask. The science of that is sound.

Edited by StringJunky
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4 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

Plenty was known about masks, and enough about the virus to know that N95+ masks should be more effective than lesser ones and lesser ones better than nothing, all other things being equal, including to the wearer.

I think that actually kind of illustrates how the public misunderstands how population risks are estimated. Sure, individually speaking a mask could be beneficial, so is a hazmat suit, so is hand washing and so on. So for public health recommendations the actual question is not whether these measure fundamentally work, but whether in public setting they can reduce overall transmission. 

The gold standard here are trials, where you have got groups of folks asked to e.g. either wear masks and wash hands, only wash hands and then calculate the overall reduction compared to a control group. As mentioned, this data was mixed and the outcome was sometimes not significantly significant, or had moderate reduction. The largest effects of facemasks where seen in clinical settings (e.g. workers cleaning rooms of infected people), which suggests that focused mask wearing in high-risk environments.

Moreover, around that time, only few known cases existed in USA and Canada, and I suspect that officials at that time point were thinking that the pandemic will play out like SARS-1. I.e. few cluster cases that will be tracked rather quickly with a concentration of cases in hospitals. So if you identify folks quickly and make them wear masks (and have everyone interacting with them do the same) would be an effective way of PPE use.

Remember that health officials where ridiculed for overhyping SARS (as well as H1N1) so that could also have coloured the response. It was only after that that we understood the differences in SARS-CoV-2 (in my potentially faulty memory) it seems that really the outbreak in Europe has made folks wonder over in NA that things may not go as well.

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