Restoring Science: How We Can Reclaim Objectivity and Protect the Public from both an Anti-Science Backlash and Corporate Greed
Reviving the Power of Science to Transform Lives and Protect Public Health will Require All of Our Efforts
Science has been a pillar of human progress for centuries. From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution, science has been at the forefront of the human experience, advancing our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Science has been our vehicle on our journey of exploration we dared to asymptotically approach the truth.
Recent events, however, have tarnished “the reputation of Science”, and we must brace ourselves for a hurricane torrent of anti-scientism that hopefully can, itself, be channeled, reformed, and redirected at the right targets: those who were never practicing Science in the first place.
Fauci has not tarnished the reputation of science; Fauci has tarnished the reputation of Fauci.
Some are saying that the reputation of science is forever tarnished. I would say that the reputations of those who were masquerading as scientists are now properly adjusted. Purveyors of science do not lie, cheat and steal. Scientists admit when they have made mistakes and errors. Scientists allow themselves to be challenged. Fauci has not tarnished the reputation of science; Fauci has tarnished the reputation of Fauci. As former CDC Director Robert Redfield summarized in this week’s House Select Committee hearings: what Fauci and his kind were doing was the antithesis of science. I call their actions “Science-Like Activities”.
Nevertheless, at a larger scale, the tarnish is broader than the specific issue of research on coronaviruses. The modern world is in a state of crisis. Science has become far more of an industry than an institution dedicated to truth and knowledge. The focus on profit-driven research and development has led to a decline in basic scientific inquiry and a rise in corporate influence over public policy decisions. With paternalism and gaslighting becoming the norm from regulatory and government agencies, regular doses of lies and disinformation are not obvious to most thinking Americans. We’ve seen overt gaslighting in public meetings in which EPA officials claimed to not be able to smell the stench of toxic chemicals in the air - right to the faces of the people of East Palestine. Both the CDC and FDA have clearly abandoned any pretext of the use of science upon which to base their policies, the former proclaiming that in the next pandemic, they will rely less on peer-reviewed literature and more on unreliable, unreviewed preprints. The latter agency just approved a 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months based on scant data: certainly not large, transparent randomized control trials.
As a result, public trust in science and scientific institutions is at an all-time low.
The causes of the issue are now well-known. Science, once a beacon of hope and promise, has come under increasing pressure from corporate interests, political influence, and conflicts of interest. In many cases, these pressures have resulted in a dangerous misapplication or misuse of science to maximize profits at the expense of public health and safety. The most recent example? This week, Pfizer fought in court to keep the same data they promised to be transparent about sealed for 75 years.
But that example is, sadly, only typical. Science has been taken hostage by corporate greed and political influence, and the fallout of this enduring corruption on public health and safety has been calamitous. The most egregious example of this is seen in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies have long used their influence over regulatory agencies such as the FDA to push drugs onto the market before they are adequately tested or proven safe for use.
This practice has resulted in numerous harmful drugs being approved for use despite evidence that they can cause serious harm or even death. The opioid epidemic is one example of this kind of abuse, with powerful drug companies pushing for lax regulations on opioids despite evidence that they were highly addictive and potentially deadly.
The Vioxx controversy provides been a stark reminder of the dangers of inadequate oversight and transparency in the biopharmaceutical industry. Merck & Co. was found to have acted recklessly by failing to warn consumers of the risks associated with Vioxx and removing three data points (heart attacks) from their study data. The moment they removed the data points, the study fell outside of the realm of science.
Furthermore, the FDA's role in approving the drug without fully understanding its risks, as well as its slow response to evidence of danger, has raised serious questions about its regulatory abilities. Ultimately, Vioxx serves as a warning that greater oversight and transparency are necessary for the safe production and distribution of drugs. The “benefit” to society? An estimated 140,000 heart attacks, resulted in an estimated 60,000 deaths.
In addition to pharmaceuticals, corporate interests have also influenced government decisions on environmental toxins and other hazardous substances. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence showing that certain chemicals can be highly toxic and damaging to human health, companies often lobby for looser regulations that allow them to release these toxins into the environment with impunity. This kind of corporate influence over government regulatory agencies has had serious impacts on public health, particularly among vulnerable populations who are more likely to be exposed to environmental pollutants due to their living conditions or occupation. We’ve seen of course these issues in East Palestine, but EWG’s analysis shows that a chemical facility disaster occurs, on average, every two days somewhere in the US. This underscores that the issues are chronic, and yet the Biden administration has done nothing to shore up even OSHA regulations in these workplaces.
Conflicts of interest have become increasingly common in scientific research itself. Scientists often receive grants from corporations with a vested interest in their research outcomes, leading them to skew results in favor of those interests rather than providing objective findings based solely on sound scientific research methods. This kind of bias can lead to dangerous misinformation being disseminated with the results, sometimes propounded by US agencies if they support specific narratives about important public health issues such as vaccines or drug safety. Conflicts of interest can ultimately put people’s lives at risk if used as a basis for flawed policy decisions or medical treatments.
The shift away from using science as a way of knowing towards using it as an avenue for corporate profits has resulted in a corruption of our regulatory agencies such as the FDA, CDC, NIH, and EPA – all entities responsible for protecting public health and safety have become beholden to corporate interests instead. From the introduction of dangerous medications to the widespread contamination of drinking water, we are living in an era dominated by “bought” science whose primary purpose is to maximize profits for big corporations like Big Pharma, Big Ag, and Big Chem rather than to serve the interests of the public. It is time for us to return to science as a way of knowing - one that is based on objective research, checks, and balances on peer review processes, and minimal conflicts of interest - if we are to secure a safe future for ourselves and our children. We must minimize conflicts of interest by limiting corporate influence in decisions made by regulatory agencies; regulating political influence on scientific decisions; and introducing transparency into decision-making processes.
A Return to Basic Research: Science for the Sake of Science
The dawning of a new era for science has been long overdue. For too long, the promise of knowledge from unbiased and objective scientific inquiry has been overlooked and ignored in favor of corporate profit. The time has come to take a stand and reclaim science for the sake of knowledge by revisiting its fundamentals, restoring the peer review process, and minimizing conflict of interest.
The first step towards restoring trust in science is reinstating the importance of basic research. For too long, government funding has been directed towards applied research that serves corporate interests and profits rather than independent research projects that could lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the world around us. Basic research provides us with new knowledge about nature and helps us to understand how things work. It is the foundation upon which all other forms of scientific inquiry rest. For science to regain its credibility, we must prioritize basic research so that it can once again be seen as an essential part of our society’s progress.
Fixing Peer Review
In addition to reinstating the importance of basic research, it is also necessary to establish checks and balances on peer review processes. The peer review process should be used as a tool for ensuring objectivity within scientific studies, but it has become too easy for researchers with conflicts of interest (such as those funded by or employed by pharmaceutical companies, directly or indirectly) to manipulate or even ignore the results when they don’t fit their own agenda. To ensure that peer review is conducted fairly and objectively, there must be accountability measures put in place so that any researcher who attempts to manipulate or ignore results will be held accountable for their actions.
There have been a few past attempts to fix peer review; none of them are superior to the single-blinded method, as long as the journal, is published, the journal Editor-in-Chief and the editorial board are not conflicted. Such journals must be stigmatized on an objective scale of bias, not to penalize them, but to reward journals that have stayed comparatively objective in the face of easy Pharma money.
Agencies Must Regulate, Not Promote or Represent
Another key step towards restoring trust in science is minimizing conflicts of interest within regulatory agencies such as the CDC, FDA, NIH, and EPA. For too long these agencies have been used as vehicles for maximizing corporate profits at the expense of public health and safety. This has resulted in dangerous medications being approved without proper testing or oversight; environmental toxins being released into our drinking water; and political influence being used to override scientific evidence when it doesn’t fit the corporatist agenda. To prevent these abuses from continuing, regulatory agencies must be truly independent of corporate influence so that decisions are made based solely on scientific evidence rather than financial gain. This will require a citizen’s commission that directs the HHS Director to remove from office any director or subdirector who has cozy relationships with corporations they are sworn to regulate.
"Science must be the cornerstone of decision-making, not corporate profits."
We must decentralize decision-making when it comes to funding science projects. Science must be the cornerstone of decision-making, not corporate profits. Currently, most scientific research projects are funded by pharmaceutical companies or universities affiliated with them; this creates a conflict-of-interest situation where decisions are made based on financial gain rather than scientific merit.
To prevent this from happening again, I estimate that we need 80 independent research entities not affiliated with Pharma or Universities established by Congressional mandate which receive funding directly from the Senate; these entities must also have zero COIs enforced via termination/ relocation policies if necessary. Additionally, campaign finance reform needs to take place so that corporations cannot buy influence over policymakers; this includes limiting campaign donations from corporations, building enforceable firewalls between corporations/policymakers, and changing campaign culture from bringing home ‘bacon’ (i.e., money) to increasing safety from corporate greed, toxins, unsafe medicines, and vaccines.
The Unbearable Cost of Failure
The consequences of failing to act would be dire. Without meaningful reform to our current system, society will suffer from limited access to accurate information about important topics such as our personal approaches to immunity, our relationship with our doctors, and over-arching healthcare policies. We have to admit that we have unsafe medicines and vaccines due to inadequate regulation; higher costs associated with treatments due to inflated prices caused by monopolies created through corporate mergers; lack of access to innovative treatments due to restricted competition among pharmaceutical companies; lack of accountability for misconduct or negligence within government or industry organizations responsible for conducting scientific studies or making decisions based upon them.
We have wholesale misinformation practices deeply embedded into public health after 30 years of science-like activities on vaccine safety, right down to their canonical design of retrospective long-term vaccine safety studies. At the same time, we’ve seen decreased quality assurance standards due to inadequate oversight mechanisms within government regulatory agencies responsible for protecting public health standards (e.g., FDA); decreased funding available for research initiatives that rely upon federal grants (e.g., NIH); reduced availability of innovative treatments resulting from restricted access caused by patent protection laws that limit competition among drug manufacturers (e.g., Hatch Waxman Act); the increased risk associated with experimental treatments resulting from inadequate and inappropriate (conflicted) regulation surrounding clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies (e.g., FDA's oversight role).
The time has come to reclaim science – not only for ourselves but also for future generations who will reap its benefits – through restoring its fundamentals: basic research, objectivity in scientific studies, checks and balances on the peer review process, minimizing conflicts of interest between government agencies, corporations, universities, and other organizations while decentralizing decision-making on scientific funding so that independent research entities unaffiliated with pharma or universities can receive direct funding from Congress via Congressional mandate. We must take steps now if we are ever to see a future where evidence-based decisions are made without bias toward profitability or any other agenda – otherwise, we risk continuing down this path which could lead us further down a dangerous road where public health is at risk due to unchecked corporate greed.
Consistent Application of the Levels of Evidence
“Evidence-based medicine” seems to up-weight evidence in favor of a profitable narrative, and down-weight evidence that disfavors profit. The Atlantic just published a report on a ridiculously bad study ginned up by the same person, Kristen Anderson, who told Fauci the sequence-level data were inconsistent with the processes of evolution, who four days later mysteriously published the now infamous “Proximal Origins” paper concluding animal origins. This time, Andersen would have us believe that the fact that their PCR tests lit up positive for SARS-CoV-2 on some swabs from bins in the market where raccoon dog DNA was also detected is “strong evidence” of the link between raccoon dogs and the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
This is not strong evidence. First, PCR tests can be false positive. Second, the raccoon dog DNA presence was detected in bins in a market in which we already know that SARS-CoV-2 infected buyers and sellers were present. Third, and this is most important - it comes from a source now considered untrustworthy by most of society looking into the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Andersen’s affiliation with Fauci and his decision to has, for many people, decimated his credibility of Anderson as a reliable source. He certainly is not objective.
We saw this reliance on low-credible data being labeled “strongest evidence” from Fauci in the past when the Zika virus was allegedly found in the brain of an aborted fetus from Brazil. Never mind that the very next year, the Zika virus circulated just as the year before, but there was no increase in microcephaly (See ZIKA VS. ALUMINUM: DOUBLE STANDARDS ON LEVELS OF EVIDENCE AND MEDIA LIABILITY (jameslyonsweiler.com)).
Holding Pharma Truly Accountable
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 gave vaccine makers unprecedented protection from liability. They demanded this protection because they argued, the damages being awarded for deaths and injuries from vaccines would bankrupt them. For nearly forty years the only recompense that can be sought by individuals or loved ones maimed or killed by vaccines has been to sue the US Department of Health and Human Services via the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program - an adversarial simulated court with simulated judges (Special Masters) who decide the fate of those who have been injured in a manner that is severely biased against justice. Indeed, I quit the program in protest following an attempt to bribe me to change my testimony to what one Special Master in particular “liked”. I will be releasing the audio of that exchange when the time is right.
But it’s not just damage from vaccines for which Pharma has skirted liability. Long-term damage from pharmaceuticals such as benzodiazepines, drugs prescribed heavily by doctors to people for stress, anxiety, and insomnia in the 1970s and 1980s has proven to include long-term disabilities that serve as examples of the lack of true accountability to pharmaceutical companies that failed to foresee the long-term negative impacts of their drugs on people’s quality life (See: Thirty years on, I still have symptoms from taking benzodiazepines’ (msn.com)).
Pharma has now mastered how to externalize the cost of adverse events, and rather than being forced to face the music and bear the full cost, they are often met in court by lawyers representing classes of plaintiffs for one problem their drug caused - while other, related health effects including long-term sequelae - bad health that would not have likely developed but for the exposure to the drug or vaccine - get a pass. The practice of reaching settlements without a finding of fault or wrongdoing frequently still leaves Pharma far in the black considering the massive profits from their profits from high-priced drugs that may or may not have the safety profile reported to the FDA - or worse, ignored by the FDA in the rush to “fast-track” drugs to market.
Making Science Cool Again
Thanks to shenanigans like these, we have a long way to g, rela to make science cool again. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.” We cannot afford for Science to lose its luster due to the actions of people like Fauci and the CDC who were not and are not conducting bona fide objective Science. Increasing public awareness/understanding about science should take place through online education for adults who want to learn more about science; K-12 reform should take place regarding how the sciences are taught. Reform regarding how ethics education takes place across public universities receiving federal dollars is also necessary. Altogether this will go far toward restoring trust in science.
The only way to restore trust in science is to return to the core values of objectivity, transparency, and independence from corporate interests.
The time has come for us as a society to reclaim science as a way of knowing by taking steps to ensure its integrity and protect it from undue influence and conflicts of interest. We must reinstate basic research as an essential part of scientific inquiry while simultaneously establishing checks and balances on peer review processes that ensure studies are conducted objectively without any bias towards particular outcomes or agendas. We must also limit corporate influence over regulatory agencies while introducing transparency into decision-making processes so that people understand why certain policies are being put in place or why certain decisions are being made related to public health matters such as food and drug safety standards or vaccine requirements for children entering school systems across the country.
We cannot allow fake science driven by corporate greed to dictate how we live our lives anymore. We must make sure that objectivity, checks and balances, minimal conflicts of interest, and decentralization take precedence when it comes to making decisions about what type of scientific research gets done and funded. This means taking steps such as reestablishing basic research, holding those involved with peer reviews accountable, and making sure regulatory agencies remain truly independent from corporate influences.
The only way to restore trust in science is to return to the core values of objectivity, transparency, and independence from corporate interests. It is time for society as a whole – not just those involved in academic circles –to demand meaningful change in how science is conducted today if we are going maintain trust in our institutions responsible for protecting our safety while providing us with accurate information about important matters affecting our lives today – including how we approach immunity to pathogens - and tomorrow’s world. We must take steps now if we want our children’s future generations to be able to enjoy all the benefits offered by reality-based scientific inquiry without having it undermined by corporate interests only concerned with their profits at our expense. It is time for us all - scientists, politicians, and citizens - alike - to join forces together toward this common goal.
Undue faith in science is a type of stolen valor: it’s better known as Scientism. Fake science is like a fast-growing weed: Those who have lied, cheated, and stolen valor from science-like activities must be pulled out by the root from the system and left in the ditch to dry out. By restoring trust in Science through these measures we can ensure that future generations will benefit from its invaluable contributions while protecting them from harm caused by unethical practices driven by greed or politics rather than truth-seeking inquiry. Let us endeavor not just to endure but embrace Science so that all may benefit from its wonders.
James Lyons-Weiler, Ph.D. is the CEO of IPAK, the not-for-profit Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge, which researches to reduce human pain and suffering without profit motive. He is also the founder of IPAK-EDU LLC, the online university for lifelong learners who want access to University-level education without the cost and the pursuit of credentials.
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Science is dead. That’s a fundamental first principle. You must now evolve into the superset or decay away within the old insanity.
Notorious "Virus Pusher Against Clotshots" James Lyons-Weiler demands that we "restore science to protect public health".
Ah hahahaha! 😂🤣
Thanks for giving me my first belly laugh of the day!