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






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

"" 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;

Ravsnkov, 2000).

"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 ( 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

similar measures.

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

for whistle-blowers.

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

the Creator.

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

05l.html. Accessed 17 July 2004.

l3 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 (, the Applied

Research Ethics National Organization. The web-site 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

researchethics.htm#top (accessed 17 July 2004). For a bibliography (up to

1997) about research ethics, see

(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 (

baycol.htm1). The serious cited side effects include liver damage and muscle

656 H. H. Bauer

widely touted and prescribed, have similar side effects (

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 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"

(Hargittai, 2004).

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

on merit.)

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

July 2004.

34 See, for instance, the Science & Environmental Project (,

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 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";

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 "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

finished, Jim Collier set me straight and pointed me in the right direction.


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