Academia moves to silence opposition

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by supercaliber, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. supercaliber macrumors regular

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    #1
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #2
    From the article, it seems that it's mostly a matter of department politics. Although, the 4th comment below the article links the Prof. to a study saying that second hand smoke isn't harmful.
     
  3. Sydde macrumors 68020

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    If you look at the comments on that story, you might see some links about the researcher in question, suggesting that he was involved in a study that found second-hand smoke harmless. And that he may have been getting paid off by Phillip Morris. When a researcher has a questionable track record, they tend to have a hard time getting breaks.
     
  4. supercaliber thread starter macrumors regular

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    Some of his research was funded by Phillip Morris, classifying it as paid-off suggests something like a bribe.

    Can you provide some better info that suggests that anything this professor has done is "questionable". He provides research that argues that some standard beliefs are not quite so black and white. So now he is "questionable?"

    Censorship requires a very high level of proof that you are lying. I haven't read anything from this guy that suggests what he is publishing are lies.
     
  5. .Andy macrumors 68030

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    What papers published by this guy have you read?
     
  6. Sydde macrumors 68020

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    The wiki-type site SourceWatch has this to say about Enstrom. Yes, it is a wiki thing, so who is writing the content may not be very well regulated. Nonetheless, it is worth taking into account.
    In the first place, Enstrom was not "censored". His analysis is available to anyone who wants to study and use it. He is merely being laid off from his position, apparently because his research jeopardizes the department's ability to obtain funding. In reality, this controversy amounts to the opposite of censorship.

    But also, bear in mind that the research involved consists primarily of analysis of existing statistical data sets. I firmly stand behind the aphorism, "There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics". From what I have observed in life, interpretation of statistical data nearly always involves some degree of manipulation and deception.
     
  7. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

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    He's still got his job for now. He appealed his firing under whistleblower protection, cough, cough.
     
  8. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

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    Interesting, but based on the article, it sounds more like a he said/she said, rather than a massive pattern and practice of censorship. Sounds like more information is needed.
     
  9. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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    It looks like some facts are missing and I was going to say that I am willing to bet a lot more inter department politics are going on. His researching not bring in enough money is valid as well. Plus the part that 2nd hand smoke is not harmful I would make me question all of his research since that is pretty far out there.
     
  10. CaptMurdock macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Now, let me get this straight: a corporation fires someone for having views that are Incompatible With The Mission Statement, that's the Free Market At Work, the Beauty of Capitalism and so forth.

    OTOH, a professor is laid off because of questionable research and it's Academic Censorship.

    Uh Hunh. :rolleyes:
     
  11. freeny macrumors 68020

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    #11
    ^^^
    exactly, this is just capitalism at work.
    Moving along...
     
  12. Ttownbeast macrumors 65816

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    As for the matter concerning education these are good reasons why college education departments should remain separate if you teach math you don't teach morals if you teach history you don't teach morals you teach English you don't teach morals you teach psychology you don't teach morals, etc.
     
  13. NT1440 macrumors G4

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    #13
    They should teach ethics in the given field.

    Ex. A CompSci course should tell you that stealing code is wrong.
     
  14. Ttownbeast macrumors 65816

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    You want to learn ethics take an ethics course not a technical course. The technical course is there to tell you how things work not preach morality you want morality then you should probably have listened to your parents the college is not your babysitter, or your church, it is there to teach practical knowledge with a separate set of departments for the discussion of ethics included but not a necessity. Even if the college doesn't tell you stealing code is wrong it is not the colleges responsibility for your actions it is your decision alone and your consequences.
     
  15. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

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    As Ugg pointed out, this is more about politics than pollution. Enstrom stepped on the toes of two of his critics, pointing out that one faked his doctorate degree, and the other was serving 26 years on a panel that was supposed to be limited to three. Now his colleagues have pushed back. That's not kosher...but it's also not as simple as just saying that his research was censored.

    The fact that he claims second hand smoke is not harmful is also suspicious. I'd like to see if other people can replicate his results. After all, if his findings are valid, the scientific method should prove that, right?
     
  16. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

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    In reference to the OP, this kind of stuff has been going on in academia for a long time. It really isnt anything new.
     
  17. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

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    He never should have performed that study if it was funded by a tobacco company. That is clearly a conflict of interest, and IMO discredits him as a researcher.
     
  18. supercaliber thread starter macrumors regular

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    This is rather naive. Someone has to pay the bills. Either a company, a personal donor, or the university itself. Invariably the person that is writing the checks is doing so to further some agenda: their view of a better society, their desire to find more ammo against tobacco, a desire to protect tobacco, whatever. Refusing to accept money from groups that have an interest in the outcome of the research means that we wouldn't do much research.

    Money always gets spent for a purpose (in every case that I can think of)
     
  19. yojitani macrumors 68000

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    It is a conflict of interest and would discredit the research unless the results could be replicated. Donors will have some sort of agenda, but a tobacco company and a university will have different agendas, won't they? A university maybe wants recognition to attract more researchers or more donors, a tobacco company is doing it for recognition as a responsible company (i.e. PR) or to support measures that will benefit them (such as lifting bans on smoking in public).
     
  20. Shivetya macrumors 65816

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    Why shouldn't we expect academics to behave this way? After all they are so much smarter than us mere mortals, if they had no deemed it their mission to serve us by educating they would be in office making us live their way.
     
  21. annk Administrator

    annk

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    #21
    Temporarily closed, for clean-up.

    Edit: Ok, it's open again for those who wish to discuss the issue brought up in the OP.

    The clean-up required - in addition to deleting posts - quite a bit of editing in many of the remaining posts. I apologise to those of you who've had your posts edited, but it was necessary for the remaining conversation to make sense.
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

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    #22
    ^^^thanks for the explanation annk :)

    A bit of a chip on your shoulder shivetya? We've only heard on side of the story. It would definitely be wise to hold off jumping to conclusions and berating the whole of academia as some bizarre caricature.
     
  23. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

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    Not really naive. I have close ties to researchers that work in academia, and many turn down offers of grants due the funding source. One person I am close to was offered a huge grant back in the early 90's to head up an Anthrax study....The source of the funds was the U.S. Gov't. She turned it down out of fear the study was part of a larger bio-weapons plot.

     
  24. macquariumguy macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Says who (besides you)?
     
  25. supercaliber thread starter macrumors regular

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    #25
    Says freedom of speech
     

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