Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 643-660, 2004 0892-33 10104
Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge
Monopolies and Research Cartels
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry & Science Studies
Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Abstract-Minority views on technical issues are largely absent from the
public arena. Increasingly corporate organization of science has led to
knowledge monopolies, which, with the unwitting help of uncritical mass
media, effect a kind of censorship. Since corporate scientific organizations also
control the funding of research, by denying funds for unorthodox work they
function as research cartels as well as knowledge monopolies. A related aspect
of contemporary science is commercialization.
Science is now altogether different from the traditional disinterested search,
by self-motivated individuals, to understand the world. What national and
international organizations publicly proclaim as scientific information is not
safeguarded by the traditional process of peer review. Society needs new
arrangements to ensure that public information about matters of science will be
Actions to curb the power of the monopolies and cartels can be conceived:
mandatory funding of contrarian research, mandatory presence of contrarian
opinion on advisory panels, a Science Court to adjudicate technical
controversies, ombudsman offices at a variety of organizations. Most sorely
needed is vigorously investigative science journalism.
Keywords: 2 1 st-century science-knowledge monopolies-monopolies in
science-research cartels-bureaucracies and science-institutions
of science-scientific institutions
A search for information about HIVIAIDS led to reports issued by UNAIDS and
the World Bank that are plainly unreliable, incompetent even1. Evidently, peer
review does not safeguard the integrity of what is publicly promulgated by these
Other worrying aspects of contemporary science include the prevalence of
conflicts of interest and of actual fraud, and the ignoring by mainstream science
of an array of unorthodox opinions and findings.
Those strands of thought stimulated this essay. Its assertions are sweeping, but
the called-for extended argument and documentation are unfeasible at less than
book length. The citations and anecdotes given here are offered as illustrative
644 H. H. Bauer
only, but should suffice to show that my views are not mere figments. Again, it
is unfeasible here to acknowledge every exception or to enter caveats wherever
called for; instead, I make the overall concession that the contemporary state of
affairs is not monolithic. What I call changes are really trends whose effects vary
from place to place, from field to field, and from time to time. But I stand by the
main point: supposedly authoritative information about the most salient sciencerelated
matters has become dangerously misleading because of the power of
bureaucracies that co-opt or control science.
Science as an Institution
Dysfunction and obsolescence begin to set in, unobtrusively but insidiously, from
the very moment that an institution achieves pre-eminence. The leading illustration
of this Parkinson's Law (Parkinson, 1958)w~a s the (British) Royal Navy. Having
come to rule the seas, the Navy slowly succumbed to bureaucratic bloat. The ratio of
administrators to operators rose inexorably, and the Navy's purpose, defense of the
realm, became subordinate to the bureaucracy's aim of serving itself. The changes
came so gradually that it was decades before their effect became obvious.
Science attained hegemony in Western culture toward the end of the 19th
century (Barzun, 2000: 606-607; Knight, 1986). This very success immediately
sowed seeds of dysfunction: it spawned scientism, the delusive belief that
science and only science could find proper answers to any and all questions that
human beings might ponder3. Other dysfunctions arrived later: funding through
bureaucracies, commercialization, conflicts of interest. But the changes came so
gradually that it was the latter stages of the 20th century before it became
undeniable that things had gone seriously amiss4.
It remains to be appreciated that 2lst-century science is a different kind of
thing than the "modem science" of the 17th through 20th centuries; there has
been a "radical, irreversible, structural" "world-wide transformation in the way
that science is organized and performed" (Ziman, 1994: 5, 7). Around 1950,
Derek Price (196311986) discovered that modern science had grown exponentially,
and he predicted that the character of science would change during the
latter part of the 20th century as further such growth became impossible5. One
aspect of that change is that the scientific ethos no longer corresponds to the
traditional "~ertonian"n~or ms of disinterested skepticism and public sharing; it
has become subordinate to corporate values. Mertonian norms made science
reliable; the new ones described by Ziman (1994) do not7.
One symptom of change, identifiable perhaps only in hindsight, was science's
failure, from about the middle of the 20th century on, to satisfy public curiosity
about mysterious phenomena that arouse wide interest: psychic phenomena,
UFOs, Loch Ness Monsters, Bigfoot. By contrast, a century earlier, prominent
scientists had not hesitated to look into such mysteries as mediumship, which
had aroused great public interest.
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 645
My claim here is not that UFOs or mediumship are phenomena whose
substance belongs in the corpus of science; I am merely suggesting that when the
public wants to know "What's going on when people report UFOs?", the public
deserves an informed response8. It used to be taken for granted that the purpose
of science was to seek the truth about all aspects of the natural world9. That
traditional purpose had been served by the Mertonian norms: Science
disinterestedly and with appropriate skepticism coupled with originality seeks
universally valid knowledge as a public good.
These norms imply that science is done by independent, self-motivated
individualsI0. However, from about the middle of the 20th century and in certain
situations, some mainstream organizations of science were behaving not as
voluntary associations of independent individuals but as bureaucracies. Popular
dissatisfaction with some of the consequences stimulated "New Age" movements.
In the 1980s, some scientists were led to form new organizationsnotably
the Society for Scientific Exploration and the International Society of
Cryptozoology-specifically to pay attention to matters of public interest that
mainstream organizations had been ignoring.
A more widely noticed symptom was the marked increase in fraud and cheating
by scientists. In 1981, the U. S. congress1' held hearings prompted by public
disclosure of scientific misconduct at 4 prominent research institutions. Then,
science journalists Broad and Wade (1982) published their sweeping indictment,
Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science. It has become
almost routine to read in the NIH Guide of researchers who admitted to fraud and
were then barred from certain activities for some specified number of years12. In
1989, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established an Office of Scientific
1ntegrity13. So prevalent was dishonesty that the new academic specialty of
"research ethics" came into being14. Professional scientific organizations drafted
or revised codes of ethics. Various groups, including government agencies,
attempted to make prescriptive for researchers what had traditionally been taken
for granted, namely, something like the Mertonian norms.
This epidemic of cheating in the latter part of the 20th century meant, clearly
enough, that an increasing number of scientists were seeking to serve their
personal interests instead of the public good of universal knowledge. Scientists
have always experienced the temptation to cheat, of course. Like all human
beings, they are subject to conflicts of interest between their personal lives and
their other activities. But in the latter stages of the 20th century, conflicts of
interest became so pervasive, so extreme, as to cast doubt on the integrity of
every aspect of science-peer review, publishing, funding (Krimsky, 2003).
Articles in the most prestigious medical and nutrition journals are often flawed
or biased (Kauffman, 2004). According to Ziman (2000), by about 1980 science
had become seriously entangled with commercial interests. Pharmaceutical
companies give gifts to physicians and researchers who heap public praise on
their products, and they pay doctors and scientists to lend their names to ghostwritten
articles in professional publications (Krimsky, 2003: 115 ff.). In 2003 it
646 H. H. Bauer
was revealed that drug companies had made hundreds of payments, totaling
millions of dollars, to NIH scientists (Willman, 2003a-f).
An industry-government-medical complex dominates medical science and
medical practice1? Pharmaceutical companies conduct or commission the
clinical trials whose results are relied upon by federal agencies in decisions to
approve or disapprove drugs as safe and effective. Traditionally, the gold
standard of reliability in science was granted when independent researchers had
confirmed a given finding; such warrants of reliability are nowadays lacking in
the testing of new medications. The result is that large profits are made from
drugs with household names whose benefits, in actual proven fact, are at best
doubtfulI6. The general public is cautioned neither by the mass media nor by the
government agencies supposed to oversee and regulate, until so many lawsuits
or deaths have ensued that they can no longer be ignored. Warnings are raised
chiefly by determinedly contrarian individuals, on off-beat web-sites, and in
partisan publications, making it easy for mainstream pundits to impugn the
credibility of the unorthodox views through guilt by association17.
Throughout the history of modem science, the chief safeguard of reliability was
communal critiquing (Ziman, 2000). Science begins as hunches. Those that work
out become pieces offrontier science. If competent peers think it worthy of attention,
an item gets published in the primary research literature. If other researchers
find it useful and accurate, eventually the knowledge gets into review articles and
monographs and finally into textbooks. The history of science demonstrates that,
sooner or later, most frontier science turns out to need modifying or to have been
misleading or even entirely wrong. Science employs a knowledgefilter that slowly
separates the wheat from the chaff (Bauer, 1992: chapter 3; see Figure 1).
This filter works in proportion to the honesty and disinterestedness of peer
reviewers and researchers. In the early days of modern science, before knowledge
became highly specialized and compartmentalized, knowledge-seekers could
effectively critique one another's claims across the board. Later and for a time,
there were enough people working independently on a given topic that
competent, disinterested critiques could often be obtained. Since about the
middle of the 20th century, however, the costs of research and the need for teams
of cooperating specialists have made it increasingly difficult to find reviewers
who are both directly knowledgeable and also disinterested; truly informed
people are effectively either colleagues or competitors. Correspondingly, reports
from the big science bureaucracies do not have the benefit of independent review
before being issued-hence the deficiencies mentioned in Note 1 18.
The dramatic rise in conflicts of interest has brought the integrity of the peerreview
system into jeopardy. The NIH permits reviewers to have conflicts of
interest "when no other competent reviewers are available" (Brainard, 2004);
yet one may reasonably doubt that such "peer review" could be a satisfactory
analysis of the results being reviewed or an impartial assessment of a grant
proposal19. Nevertheless, reviewers who are competitors of those whose work is
being examined could still be very effective, provided they were able to be
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 647
ALL HUMAN TRAITS
Fig. 1. How peer review over time acts to filter reliable scientific knowledge from the guesses,
claims, mistakes, and misdeeds that are part of the human activity of doing science (from
Bauer, 1992, by permission).
intellectually honest: they have a vested interest in showing their competitors to
be wrong and have a great incentive to find flaws in the work being reviewed.
On the other hand, reviewers who are colleagues have the opposite incentive, not
to find flaws. With the increasing dominance of large research teams and large
institutions, whereby the "only competent reviewers" turn out to be
collaborators, the traditional safeguard of peer review has essentially dissipated.
Price (196311986) saw the exploding costs of research after WWII as a likely
mechanism for bringing to an end the era of exponentially growing science. The
648 H. H. Bauer
I mentioned symptoms may indeed be traced to the escalating costs of research
and the continuing expansion of the number of would-be researchers without
a proportionate increase in available funds. The stakes became very high.
Researchers had to compete more and more vigorously20, which tended to mean ~ more unscrupulously. The temptation became greater to accept and solicit funds
and patrons while ignoring tangible or moral attached strings.
Politicians unable or unwilling to provide adequate public funds encouraged
scientists in academe to collaborate with business and industry. Thereby the
purpose of science, to seek the truth as a public good and no matter where it
leads, becomes distorted by the drive to find profitable applications and
technologies2'. This was perhaps most obvious most recently during the
"dot.com" and "biotech" bubbles, when fortunes were made by hawking
farfetched promises based on speculative ideas masquerading as scientific. In the
1980s, universities were forming joint ventures with industry despite concern
that the disinterested search for truth by scientists was being compromised;
medical schools in particular were teaming up with pharmaceutical and
biomedical companies (Krimsky, 2003, especially chapters 3 & 5).
It is ironic that a contributing factor to the demise of trustworthy science was
its very success in bringing useful applications. The triumph of the Manhattan
Project to develop an atomic bomb during WWII encouraged unbridled euphoria
or "irrational ex~berance"ab~o~u t what science could accomplish if sufficiently
supported23. On the part of the public and politicians, expectations became
dysfunctionally unrealistic. Science was asked to deliver the impossible through
ventures like the National Science Foundation's "Research Applied to National
Needs" in the 1970s or the NIH's "war on cancer" declared in 1971 by President
Nixon. In that spirit, scientists are encouraged to solicit funds for populist pipedreams
like panaceas from gene therapy or from stem cells.
Unrealistic expectations coupled with misunderstanding of how science works
led to the unstated presumption that good science could be expanded and
accelerated by recruiting more scientists. Instead, of course, the massive infusion
of government funds since WWII had inevitably deleterious consequences. More
researchers translate into less excellence and more mediocrity24. Journeymen
peer-reviewers tend to stifle rather than encourage creativity and genuine
innovation. Centralized funding and centralized decision-making make science
more bureaucratic and less an activity of independent, self-motivated truthseekers.
Science attracts careerists instead of curiosity-driven idealists25.
Universities and individuals are encouraged to view scientific research as a cash
cow to bring in money as "indirect costs"26 for all sorts of purposes, instead of
seeking needed funds for doing good science27. The measure of scientific
achievement becomes the amount of "research support" brought in7 not the
production of useful knowledge28.
Commercialization may presently be most obvious in the medical sciences,
but every field that offers opportunities for remunerative practical applications
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 649
complex is not far behind (if at all) the medical sciences in displaying the
unhappy consequences of excessive and excessively rapid commercialization.
Indeed, already during the 1960s, economics and business faculty at elite
universities had established companies using statistics, systems analysis, and
behavior psychology to market "social problem solving", drawing on their
university-provided resources for personal profit (Ridgeway, 1968).
But commercialization is not the only force driving science into corporate
form. National and international institutions are increasingly co-opting and
controlling scientific activity for social or political purposes.
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels
Skepticism toward research claims is absolutely necessary to safeguard
reliability. In corporate settings, where results are expected to meet corporate
goals, criticism may be brushed off as disloyalty, and skepticism is thereby
suppressed. As Ziman (1994) pointed out, the Mertonian norms of "academic"
science have been replaced by norms suited to a proprietary, patent- and profitseeking
environment in which researchers feel answerable not to a universally
valid standard of trustworthy knowledge but to local managers. A similar effect,
the suppression of skepticism, results from the funding of science and the
dissemination of results by or through non-profit bureaucracies such as the NIH
or agencies of the United Nations.
While the changes in the circumstances of scientific activity were quite gradual
for 2 or 3 centuries, they have now cumulated into a change in kind. Corporate
science, Big Science, is a different kind of thing than academic science, and
society needs to deal with it differently. Large institutional bureaucracies now
dominate the public face of science. Long-standing patrons-private foundations
like Rockefeller and Ford, charitable organizations like the American Heart
Association and the American Cancer Society-have been joined and dwarfed by
government bureaucracies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
the NIH, and the National Science Foundation, which, in turn, are being
overshadowed by international bodies like the World Bank and various agencies
of the United Nations-the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural
Organization, UNAIDS, and more. Statements, press releases, and formal reports
from these bodies often purport to convey scientific information, but in reality
these releases are best viewed as propaganda designed to serve the corporate
interests of the bureaucracies that issue them. Of course there are exceptions; but
as a general rule one should nowadays no more trust a press release from the
World ~anokr fr~om~ U NAIDS (Note 1) than one issued by, say, the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union.
The fine print in some of the reports from these organizations actually concedes
that they should not be trusted, a disclaimer not found in traditional scientific
publications: "UNAIDS does not warrant that the information contained in this
650 H. H. Bauer
incurred as a result of its use" (UNAIDS, 2004). Nevertheless, the media based on
this report such headlines as "Migration 'threatens Europe with huge HIV crisis"'
(Sunday Telegraph [UK], 4 July, p. 24) and "Aids [sic] cases hit new record"
(Daily Telegraph [UK], 7 July, p. 12). Apparently overlooked was that the numbers
in the report show little if any increase in HIV prevalence between 2001 and 2003.
In any case, all those numbers are merely estimates yielded by a computerized
model, not actual counts-not even the deaths supposed to have occurred in 2001
and 2003. That computer model is based on assumptions described by their authors
themselves as tentative, and uses such grossly faulty inputs as that the mean time to
death from seroconversion to HIV antibodies is 9 5 1 years30. Moreover, the
quality of surveillance and testing for HIV is admitted to be variable at best, in
other words, even the few actual counts fed into the computer model are of doubtful
validity (Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 80, Supplement 1). Despite all these
uncertainties, this UNAIDS report does not hesitate to extrapolate what
populations will or would be in 2025, with and without AIDS. Moreover, it
insists that 2003 saw the greatest numbers ever of new infections and deaths from
AIDS. That insistence represents the typical bureaucratic case that more resources
are needed, but it is based on a farfetched extrapolation from anything actually
known. Since the incidence of HIV (percentage of people testing HIV-positive)
has remained virtually unchanged (according to the report itsel$'), deaths plus
population increase must have balanced new infections; but that balance would
equally accommodate the possibility that deaths and new infections were at their
lowest-ever levels in 2003, or indeed at any level at all.
Despite the uncertainties and deficiencies evident in this and other such
reports, the media (by and large) pass on as factual and reliable-that is to say
without critical comment-statistics and prognostications and recommendations
from the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the NIH,
the Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Foundation, the Ford
Foundation, and so on and on. It seems to have been overlooked that these
organizations feel free to broadcast claims and interpretations that have not run
the gauntlet of critical, competent, disinterested peer-review31932I. n contrast,
individual scientists continue to be severely castigated, including in the popular
media, if they dare to announce results publicly before they have been published
in a peer-reviewed The large institutional bureaucracies are not held to
that standard as they routinely issue purportedly scientific information.
The upshot is that policy makers and the public generally do not realize that
there is doubt about, indeed evidence against, some theories almost universally
viewed as true, about issues of enormous public import: global warming; healthy
diet, heart-disease risk-factors, and appropriate medication; HIVIAIDS; gene
therapy; stem cells; and more.
"Everyone knows" that promiscuous burning of fossil fuels is warming up
global climates33. Everyone does not know that competent experts dispute this34
and that official predictions are based on tentative data fed into computer models
whose validity could be known only many decades hence (Crichton, 2003).
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 65 1
"Everyone knows" that diets low in cholesterol and saturated fats are hearthealthy.
The actual evidence does not support this claim (McCully, 1998;
"Everyone knows" that it is desirable to lessen or remove "risk factors". In
actual fact, most so-called risk factors are mere statistical correlations that have
not been shown to be causes, necessary or sufficient or even partial.
"Everyone knows" that a bit of aspirin each day keeps heart attacks away.
What everyone does not know is that there are better ways, with fewer sideeffects,
of doing that (Kauffman, 2000).
"Everyone knows" that AZT was the first medication that could prolong the lives
of AIDS patients. What everyone does not know is that AZT is a deadly poison
(Lauritsen, 1990) avoided by long-term survivors of HIV or AIDS diagnoses30.
The Food and Drug Administration web-site (www.fda.gov) carries a list that
should be thought-provoking of drugs once approved as "safe and effective"
that have been withdrawn, such as anti-allergy medications like Seldane that did
not induce drowsiness but could cause cardiac arrhythmias, or the aforementioned
(Note 13) statin, Baycol.
What "everyone knows" about the science related to major public issues, then,
often fails to reflect the actual state of scientific knowledge. In effect, there exist
knowledge monopolies composed of international and national bureaucracies.
Since those same organizations play a large role in the funding of research as well
as in the promulgation of findings, these monopolies are at the same time research
cartels. Minority views are not published in widely read periodicals, and
unorthodox work is not supported by the main funding organizations. Instead of
disinterested peer review, mainstream insiders insist on their point of view in
order to perpetuate their prestige and privileged positions. That is the case even on
so academic a matter as the Big-Bang theory of the universe's origin35. When it
comes to an issue of such public prominence as HIVJAIDS, any dissent from the
official view has dire consequences. President Mbeki of South Africa was
castigated around the world for his audacity in assembling a fact-finding group
that included some representatives of minority opinions. Peter Duesberg,
a leading retrovirologist, lost his research support, and found it an uphill battle
even to exercise his right, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, to
publish in the Academy's Proceedings. After all, to question whether HIV was
ever isolated, or whether it causes AIDS, is not merely to question some research
claims, it is to resist the authority of the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the
World Bank, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NIH, and many
other powerful organizations. It is to question the pledges by many governments
to spend billions of dollars in the fight against HIVJAIDS in Africa. It is to suggest
that many "AIDS charities" have been misled and misguided even though
established and advertised by such celebrities as Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela,
Bill Gates, Sir Elton John, Arthur Ashe, and others.
How could all those eminences be so wrong? That rhetorical question greets
652 H. H. Bauer
and others have been unable to get explanations of what is incorrect about the
minority views on HIVIAIDS (Hodgkinson, 1996; Maggiore, 2000; Malan,
2001; Shenton, 1998). A large number of competent people, including at least 2
Nobelists in molecular biology, question the orthodox view that HIV necessarily
and alone causes AIDS, but their letter to that effect was rejected in 1991 by
Nature, Science, The Lancet, and The New England Journal of ~edicine~~.
Public opinion polls show that the official view is also the popular view37.
It is not that knowledge monopolies are able to exercise absolute censorship.
Contrary views are expressed, but one must know where to look for them; so one
must already have some reason to make the effort. That constitutes a vicious
circle. Moreover, the contrarian view will often seem a priori unreliable or
politically partisan, as already noted17. Altogether, people exposed chiefly to
mainstream media will likely never suspect-will have no reason to suspectthat
there could exist a credible case different from the officially accepted one.
The conventional wisdom about these matters is continually reinforced by
publicly broadcast snippets that underscore the official dogma. What other
reason might there be to publicize, for example, the guesstimate that global
warming will cause an increase in asthma attacks (Daily Telegraph, 2004)? This
is just another "fact" to convince us that we must curb the use of coal, gas, and
oil. Again, when Merck boasts in "public service announcements" on Public
Radio about its help in providing access to HIVIAIDS medicines3', that helps
make unquestionable the connection between HIV and AIDS. Such snippets are
shibboleths (Bauer, 1986) whose value lies not in their truth or in the evidence
for them, but in reinforcing the desired viewpoint. This is propaganda science,
not traditional science.
Of course, minority views and unorthodox claims have always been resisted
or ignored, even in science (Barber, 1961; Hook, 2002; Stent, 1972). But
different now are the degree of resistance and the power of the official view; in
many cases, resistance has become tantamount to censorship or suppression.
The ills of contemporary science-commercialization, fraud, untrustworthy
public information-are plausibly symptoms of the crisis, foreseen by Derek
Price (1963/1986), as the era of exponentially growing modem science comes to
an end. Science in the 21st century will be a different animal from the so-called
"modern science" of the 17th to 20th centuries. The question is not whether to
reform the science we knew, but whether society can arrange the corporate,
commercialized science of the future so that it can continue to expand the range
of trustworthy knowledge. Ziman (1994: 276) points out that any research
organization requires "generous measures" of
room for personal initiative and creativity;
time for ideas to grow to maturity;
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 653
hospitality toward novelty;
respect for specialized expertise.
These describe a free intellectual market in which independent thinkers
interact, and there may be a viable analogy with economic life. Economic free
markets are supposed to be efficient and socially useful because the mutually
competitive ventures of independent entrepreneurs are self-corrected by an
"invisible hand" that regulates supply to demand; competition needs to be
protected against monopolies that exploit rather than serve society. So, too, the
scientific free market in which peer review acts as an invisible hand (Harnad,
2000) needs to be protected from knowledge monopolies and research cartels.
Anti-trust actions are called for.
Where public funds are concerned, legislation might help. When government
agencies support research or development ventures, they might be required to
allocate, say, 10% of the total to competent people of past achievement who hold
contrarian views. That would have provided support for people like Linus
Pauling (orthomolecular psychiatry and uses of vitamin C), Peter Duesberg and
Robert Root-Bernstein (HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS),
and Thomas Gold (oil of non-biogenic origin, and many other far-out
suggestions). In addition to its immediate and direct effects, such legislation
would also serve as a public acknowledgment of how scientific advances
actually come about, and it might thereby encourage private foundations to take
It should also be legislated that scientific advisory panels and grant-reviewing
arrangements include representatives of views that differ from the mainstream.
This would be a far more effective way of ensuring intellectually honest advice
and reviews than is the restricting of financial conflicts of interest, if only
because federal agencies can waive their rules over conflict of interest when they
would bar "all competent researchers" (Krimsky, 2003). Since in the eyes of the
mainstream the dissidents are not competent, the existence of these waivers is
a standing invitation to bureaucrats to seek advice only from insiders.
Where legislation is being considered about public policy that involves scientific
issues, a Science Court might be established to arbitrate between mainstream and
variant views, something discussed in the 1960s but never acted upon39.
0mbudsman4' offices might be established by journals, consortia of journals,
private foundations, and government agencies to investigate charges of
misleading claims, unwarranted publication, unsound interpretation, and the
like. The existence of such offices could also provide assistance and protection
Sorely needed is vigorously investigative science journalism, so that
propaganda from the knowledge bureaucracies is not automatically passed on.
To make this possible, the media need to know about and have access to the
whole spectrum of scientific opinion on the given issue. The suggestions made
654 H. H. Bauer
for reporters is that they need access to sources, and if they publish material that
casts doubt on the official view, they risk losing access to official sources4'.
In the bygone era, trustworthy science depended on scientists doing the right
thing even when that did not immediately serve their personal purposes. In the
new era of corporate science, the desires of individuals to serve the public good
do not suffice to ensure that corporate actions will serve the public good.
' As to unreliability, Malan (2001, 2003) has given chapter and verse about
how misleading and contrary to evidence are the official releases from
UNAIDS. When UNAIDS announced that 250,000 South Africans had died
of AIDS in 1999, that figure turned out to be the output of a computer model,
which in subsequent "refinements" of the model reduced the number to
65,000. No count was made of relevant death certificates. Similarly, in the
2004 Global Report (UNAIDS, 2004), the text speaks of an alarming spread
of the epidemic while the tables contain estimates based on doubtful
assumptions and a tentative computer model.
For an example of an incompetent report, see CGCED (2000). Data in the
figures do not correspond to statements in the text, the labeling of graph axes
is unsound, and citations are imprecise.
The most widely cited of Parkinson's Laws is that work expands to fill the
time available. But Parkinson's books contain many other Laws and
corollaries that afford timeless insights into bureaucratic ways.
Sociologist Herbert Spencer (1 820-1903), (in)famous as proponent of Social
Darwinism, argued that all of life should take its essential lessons from the
findings of science. T. H. Huxley (1 825-1 895) preached for the Church of
Science (Knight, 1986).
There is a distinction to be made between dysfunction in the internal
workings of science itself and a dysfunctional social role played by science.
Those distinguishable aspects are not independent of one another, however,
one feeds on the other, and for the present purpose these complications have
to be ignored.
Price founded scientometrics, the investigation of scientific activity in
quantitative terms: counts of papers, journals, costs, citations, etc. He showed
that after WWII, the cost of science was increasing as the square of the
amount of science being done. Under the pressures of costs and competition
for the best people, the focus of science would no longer be directed by the
state of scientific knowledge; it would follow social and political demands.
The accuracy of his prediction is illustrated by, for example, the war on
Enunciated in the 1940s by sociologist Robert K. Merton.
7 As Ziman puts it, scientists were traditionally rewarded by the CUDOS
accrued for practicing Communalism, Eniversalism, Disinterestedness,
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 655
-Or iginality, Skepticism. In the corporate world, scientists are rewarded in the
work-PLACE for results that are Proprietary, Local, under Authoritarian
command, Commissioned, carried out Expertly.
The typical contemporary response from within science to queries about such
anomalous claims is not informed by accurately detailed knowledge of what
the claims and the presented evidence actually are. Sometimes this ignorance
is openly admitted, as when critics of Velikovsky's books boasted of not
having read them (Bauer, 1986).
Early modem science saw many contributions from ordained ministers who
explored the workings of the world as a natural accompaniment to worship of
lo Modern science made its greatest early strides under social conditions that
allowed free association and entrepreneurial activity by independent
individuals. Following Galileo's unhappy experience with the Catholic
Church, the major advances in science came in Protestant Northwest Europe,
chiefly Holland and Britain.
" Through the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House
Science and Technology Committee.
12 For example, http://grants 1 .nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-
05l.html. Accessed 17 July 2004.
l3 http://ori.dhhs.gov/html/about/historical.asp. Accessed 17 July 2004.
l4 Accountability in Research (ISSN 0898-9621) has been published since 1989,
Science and Engineering Ethics (ISSN 147 1-5546) since 1995.
There exists ARENA (http://www.primr.org/arena.html), the Applied
Research Ethics National Organization. The web-site onlineethics.org was
set up in 1995 with government support. Centers and institutes concerned
with professional or research ethics have been created at a number of
universities over the last decade or two.
A collection of relevant web pages is at http://www.web-miner.com/
researchethics.htm#top (accessed 17 July 2004). For a bibliography (up to
1997) about research ethics, see http://www.chem.vt.edu/chem-ed/ethics/
(the last line of the initial page gives an incorrect date of 1 January 1970 for
the last update, which was actually in 1997).
l5 Pace President Eisenhower's warning about the dangers of the industrialmilitary
l6 This point alone deserves its own book. Here are a few examples among
many possible ones:
Statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor are aggressively marketed and earn
billions of dollars (Reuters, 2002) even as the fine print in their advertisements
has to acknowledge that there is no evidence that they decrease the risk
of heart attack or heart disease. One statin (Baycol) was withdrawn because of
more than 100 deaths and 785 lawsuits (http://www.adrugrecall.com/baycol/
baycol.htm1). The serious cited side effects include liver damage and muscle
656 H. H. Bauer
widely touted and prescribed, have similar side effects (http://www.fda.gov/
cder/drug/infopage/baycol/baycol-qa.htmp, oint 9 at bottom of page).
Aspirin superseders, so-called NSAIDs and Cox-2 inhibitors, turn out to
have more serious side effects than aspirin (http://www.adrugrecall.corn/
vioxx/vioxx.html; Hensley , 2004).
l7 The dissident opinions on HIVIAIDS or global warming, for example, can be
found most commonly in publications associated with conservative political
views, for instance the Spectator (UK), the Washington Times, or books from
publishers like Regnery.
In the early 1990s, the Sunday Times (UK) and its editor, Andrew Neil,
were roundly and widely criticized-including by that supposed epitome of
scientific decorum, Nature-for printing articles by Neville Hodgkinson that
explained the views of HIVIAIDS dissidents and their evidentiary basis.
l8 Indeed, the "Acknowledgments" sections in the cited reports (CGCED,
2000; UNAIDS, 2004) reflect bureaucrats' mutual back-scratching rather
than technically competent peer review.
l9 These waivers indicate a scientistic belief that "the scientific method" is an
impersonal formula for getting true knowledge. Were that so, then people
could not avoid seeing the true results of the method even if they were
unpalatable. But that method is a myth (Bauer, 1992), and human beings,
scientists among them, are very good at not seeing what they do not like and
imagining that they do see what they would like to see.
20 In 1978, the Chemistry Department at the University of Kentucky surveyed
the recent experience of its faculty in getting grants. It turned out that we
were writing about 10 grant proposals for every 1 funded by the National
Science Foundation. Ten years earlier, the ratio had been 2 to 1.
For example, in the 1970s the National Science Foundation flirted with
"university-industry cooperative ventures". Those of us who tried to participate
found it difficult or impossible to resolve conflicts between our desire to
publish our work and industrial pressure to keep results secret and proprietary.
As Ziman (1994: 272,265) points out, "The scientific enterprise . . . runs on
trust, which depends on reasonable conformity with the norm of 'disinterestedness'.
. . . This norm is not compatible with commercial practices. . . . A
shotgun marriage between such different cultures may produce offspring that
are much less intellectually or technologically fertile than either of their
22 TO adopt Alan Greenspan's description of the stock market in the heyday of
the techno-bio-dot.com bubble.
23 An historical landmark was Vannevar Bush's 1945 report to the President,
Science-The Endless Frontier, widely credited for stimulating massive
federal funding of research.
24 Price (196311986) found that quality in science is proportional to the square
root of quantity. To double the number of excellent scientists, the total
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 657
25 I suspect that many contemporary graduate students and faculty will not find
easy to believe just how idealistic a large proportion of students and
practitioners of science were up to some period following WWII. A decade
ago, when I was giving seminars on research ethics, a department head of my
generation told me that he was still having his graduate students read
Arrowsmith (Lewis, 1925), whose heroes preach selfless devotion to science
and whose villains put personal advancement first. Innumerable other
anecdotes of idealism can be found in reminiscences of scientists. Andrew
Szent-Gyorgyi recalls that his cousin, Nobelist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, "taught
me that doing science is a privilege worth sacrificing everything for"
I still recall, half a century later, how very shocked my cohort of graduate
students was when we read The Struggles of Albert Woods (Cooper, 1952),
which suggested that politicking rather than merit led to such awards as
a Fellowship of the Royal Society (F.R.S.). So upset were 2 of us that-in
a less than sober moment-we accosted Professor A. G. Ogston, F.R.S., to
enquire whether this was true to life. (Ogston, the very exemplar of modesty
and a practicing Quaker, was very kind and understanding. My companion on
that occasion, Anthony W. "Tony" Linnane, later earned his F.R.S. entirely
26 Some time ago, this euphemism replaced the earlier term, "overhead".
27 In 1966, the Research Division at the University of Kentucky re-wrote the
budget of my application for a grant from the National Science Foundation
from $50,000 over 2 years to $250,000, asking for reimbursement for part of
my academic-year salary as well as proportionate benefits, and much
"overhead". To my protests, the Director explained that the Federal
Government was using these grants as general support for universities.
From the 1960s on, many colleges developed the ambition to become
research universities by trading in this fashion on the availability of federal
grants and fellowships for graduate students. There had been 107 doctorategranting
universities in the United States in the 1940s; 30 years later, there
were 307 (National Academy of Sciences, 1978). Expenditures for scientific
research in universities increased from $31 million in 1940 to $3 billion by
1980 (Krimsky, 2003: 27).
28 "[Iln our time a successful cancer researcher is not one who 'solves the
riddle,' but rather one who gets a lot of money to do so" (Chargaff, 1977: 89).
The University of Kentucky (Wethington, 1997) and Virginia Polytechnic
Institute & State University (Steger, 2000)-no doubt among others-have
announced the ambition to become one of the 20 or 30 (respectively) "top
research universities", a ranking that depends solely on the total amount of
research dollars expended.
In the 1980s at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, the
criteria for tenure and promotion in the College of Engineering were stated by
its Dean, in meetings of the University Promotion and Tenure Committee, to
658 H. H. Bauer
be about $100,000 annual research support from external sources for tenure,
and about 3 times that amount for promotion to full professor.
29 Elsewhere I plan to publish a detailed critique of the first World Bank report
(CGCED, 2000) that I ever read. I was led to read others that proved to be of
equally poor quality, unreliable as to data, interpretation, and citation of
'O Root-Bernstein (1995a) found the period from infection by HIV to actual
illness-that is, developing AIDS-to differ profoundly between different
groups: 6 months for babies, 2 years for transplant recipients, 6 years for
recipients of blood, 10 years for gay men and old severe hemophiliacs, 14
years for young severe hemophiliacs, more than 20 years for mild
hemophiliacs. To compare with the UNAIDS guesstimate of 9 + 1 years,
Root-Bernstein's numbers must have added to them the time from developing
AIDS to death. That period is itself highly variable. Avoiding AZT and other
anti-retroviral drugs, Michael Callen lived for 12 active years after being
diagnosed with full-blown AIDS (Hodgkinson, 1996: 14), while Richard
Berkowitz was still living 2 decades after his diagnosis (Berkowitz, 2003).
For more on long-time survival in excellent health after diagnosis as HIVpositive,
see Maggiore (2000). '' AS noted earlier, it is by no means easy nowadays to find competent
reviewers without severe conflicts of interest. But institutions like the World
Bank or UNAIDS give no indication that they even attempt to have their
reports examined critically by outsiders before they are issued. It is not the
sort of thing that bureaucracies do. " For instance, Fleischmann and Pons over cold fusion in 1989.
" As shown by public-opinion polls, for instance http://www.americans-world.
org/digest/global~issues/global~warming/gwsummary.cfmA.c cessed 13
34 See, for instance, the Science & Environmental Project (http://www.sepp.org/),
whose president is S. Fred Singer, a distinguished environmental scientist.
35 A letter to this effect co-written by a couple of dozen well-known
cosmologists was refused publication in Nature but was eventually published
in New Scientist (2004). Mainstream dogma can pour scorn on such views
simply by pointing out that "Nature refused to publish this letter", which
most people would accept forthwith as casting grave doubt on the letter's
36 See http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/group.htm. Accessed 19 July 2004.
37 "Aid for HIVIAIDS Crisis in Africa: A strong majority supports US aid to
address the problem of HIVIAIDS in Africa. An overwhelming majority
considers the crisis quite serious and believes that it will effect [sic]
Americans, thought [sic] the public is divided on whether it threatens US
national security. About half of the public feels the US should do more to help,
but strong majorities think other actors such as the Africans, pharmaceutical
companies and the UN should do more. A majority feels the US should get
Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels 659
involved in the problem of AIDS orphans"; http://www.americans-world.org/
digest/regional-issues/africa/africa-sumcfm Accessed 13 July 2004.
38 For example, on PRI International, often heard during August and September
2004 on AM 1260, Christiansburg (VA).
39 See http://www.piercelaw.edu/risWvol4/springibliography.htm: "The Science
Court: A Bibliography" by Jon R. Cavicchi. Accessed 19 July 2004.
40 "Ombudsman" implies independent and disinterested.
41 A very real risk, as Robert Gallo explicitly warned journalist Celia Farber
(Hodgkinson, 1996: 160, citing Lauritsen 119941).
I was helped immeasurably by constructive criticism and moral support from
Patrick Huyghe and Sharon Begley as I was groping to bring together the various
strands of my concerns. Further and valuable comments on various drafts came
from Neville Hodgkinson, Joel Kauffman, and Joe Pitt. When I thought I had
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