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Post 0

Monday, November 6, 2006 - 12:28pmSanction this postReply
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Did Agin mention that publicly financed scientific research is itself infested with fraud? In an article entitled, "The unholy lust of scientists: It may be time to curtail public financing of scientific research," published, ironically enough, in the liberal San Francisco Chronicle, David Oderberg, professor of philosophy at the University of Reading, England, writes,
In her recent op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, Professor Laurie Zoloth, wringing her hands in anguish, appealed to the spirit of Immanuel Kant in her plea for a "truthful narrative" from scientists. Yet she should realize that Kant himself thought we could never know how things really were, and that for humans truth lay, to put it crudely, "in the head." If calling up the ghost of a skeptic (albeit a subtle one) such as Kant -- one of the fathers of that tarnished project called the Englightenment -- is the best we can hope for, what chance is there that scientists will forget their prizes and the mammoth paychecks dangled in front of their eyes?
He adds,
It may be inviting poison emails to say it, but I venture to suggest that contemporary science is now so corrupted by the lust for loot and glory that nothing less than root-and-branch reform can save it. For a start, although I distance myself wholly from his anti-rationalism and methodological anarchy, I share the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend's demand for a separation of science and state, or at the very least a radical curtailment of public financial sponsorship of scientific research."
Oderberg cites what he refers to as a "ground-breaking 1982 study," entitled Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science by William Broad and Nicholas Wade.

- Bill



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Post 1

Monday, November 6, 2006 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Bill,

He does have a section on fraud in science. He doesn't point fingers there, except at self-interest or greed. He gives a few examples, but mostly just comments on the long term damage. He claims scientists usually don't bother duplicating results, as they want to explore the next step or the step after. So when someone tricks people, a lot of later science is based on those initial fraudulent results, potentially lasting decades before people figure out what went wrong.

But other chapters confirm the view that it's corporations defrauding the public for gains.

In the section on the tobacco industry, he discusses how selling tobacco is just like selling poison, accepts completely the view that an "addicted" person has no choice, and of course the entire enterprise should be illegal. In a few of the chapters related to health issues, he talks about how it's a "public cost", which of course makes these private transactions a crime against the community.

It was what you'd expect from someone who's completely accepted the big government perspective. And with his sprinkling of the term "neo-cons" all over, it's pretty clear he doesn't see any separation between science and politics.





Post 2

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 - 1:46pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Joe, for the synopsis. I'm glad to hear that he takes such outrageous positions, because by doing so, he can only serve to discredit himself in the eyes of reasonable people. I was concerned that a book of that sort might be well received by critical and independent thinkers. Now, I'm not so worried! ;-)

- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 11/07, 1:47pm)




Post 3

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 8:30amSanction this postReply
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The review here by Joseph Rowlands of the book JUNK SCIENCE is unfortunately a travesty of misinformation about the book. For the sake of sanity and objective reason, note the following:

1) Rowlands says "it devotes an entire chapter on the "myth" that free market medicine (as in the US) is better than socialized medicine. Evidently "science" proves that socialized medicine is actually better."

In actuality, "socialized medicine" is never mentioned in the discussion of health care, and one of the early chapters on the evils of total government control (example: the Soviet Union) ought to have pointed an intelligent reader to Agin's centrist position. Nowhere does Agin say or imply that "science proves that socialized medicine is actually better."

The major point of the chapter on health care is that the current system deprives too many people of adequate minimal health care, with an enormous cost to the rest of society.

Rowlands says, "He starts with the assumption that universal health care and equality of service are the goals, and goes on to show how the "science" favors nationalized health care. Duh."

There is no such assumption in the book and Rowlands is lying.

2) Concerning the analysis of free market economics in the US, Rowlands says of Agin, "In his view of the world, the people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves and scientists should rule them instead."

Nowhere does Agin say people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves, in fact he says just the opposite, that people are lied to and are a consequence far from enlightened about their own self-interest. And nowhere does Agin say "scientists should rule".

Again, Rowlands is lying.

3) Rowlands says, "He explains to us how great it would be if the government did whatever the scientists wanted. Research should no longer be "corrupted" by profit, and instead should be put on a firm basis by government funding."

This is more baloney by Rowlands, and nothing like the above is said in the book.

So, folks, are we to achieve Objective Reason by lying to each other about reality? At Amazon, you can look inside the book, see the Table of Contents, the Index, read excerpts, and so on. Or better, read the damn book before you pass judgment on what New Scientist (UK) magazine, no promoter of liberal ideas, calls "a cogent and powerfully argued book." Item: The Forbes Magazine Book Club also recommends this book. Open your eyes, Joseph.



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Post 4

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 10:41amSanction this postReply
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"The major point of the chapter on health care is that the current system deprives too many people of adequate minimal health care, with an enormous cost to the rest of society."

The premises this statement rests upon are a veritable definition of socialism!




Post 5

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 10:46amSanction this postReply
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I would like to add this to my post:

You cannot REASON about the world without KNOWING the world, and if your knowledge of the world is corrupted by government, corporations, the faith industry, and others who deal you misinformation and lies, your reasoning will also be corrupted and you are a victim. That is the relevant basic point of the book JUNK SCIENCE by Agin. Reason with corrupted knowledge is corrupted reason.

Faraday



Post 6

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 11:17amSanction this postReply
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In his first post here, Peter Faraday said:
There is no such assumption in the book and Rowlands is lying.

Peter, Either you don't know what "lying" means or you are just being rude.  You could have said that he was "mistaken", or "incorrect" instead.  Most of us here waited until we had posted a few times before we started insulting other posters.  Try to be a little more patient.




Post 7

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 11:33amSanction this postReply
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The original "insult" was by Rowlands, his "Duh". Is he calling Agin an idiot? Pray, tell us the meaning of "Duh".

Faraday
(Edited by Peter Faraday
on 11/10, 11:46am)




Post 8

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 12:09pmSanction this postReply
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You seem to be quite sensitive to slights to Agin. Could it be that you are, rather than "Peter Farady," just "Peter For-a-day"?



Post 9

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 12:31pmSanction this postReply
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Maybe it is Lord trying to come back.

Joe is not lying, what  he is arriving at is the logical conclusions that Agin's philosophy brings us to - yes maybe he did not say it in so many words, but just like there may be no gun in my face, that is the implication if I refuse to pay taxes on my house for the local government school.  Leftists try never to be so explicit, they talk about "on this and that hand" and muddle the waters as much as possible so that no one can nail them down, and in fact they then like to say that "facts are not important" either.

By assuming that the current system is capitalist (it is not, it is an amalgam of both and more government controlled than free), he then adds in the socialist definition of "burden on society" - again everything he is saying is done so by implication, leftists never let themselves be nailed down to specifics.




Post 10

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 1:11pmSanction this postReply
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From the OED:

Duh: colloq. Expressing inarticulacy or incomprehension. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said something foolish or extremely obvious.

1963 N.Y. Times Mag. 24 Nov. 54/2 A favorite expression is ‘duh’... This is the standard retort used when someone makes a conversational contribution bordering on the banal. For example, the first child says,‘The Russians were first in space.’ Unimpressed, the second child replies (or rather grunts), ‘Duh’.




Post 11

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply
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Here's just a few quotes from the book:

"My assumption is that finding a way to apply science to care for the health of as many people as possible is a good thing to do. As an idea, this is only an extension of what people in a family try to do for themselves--look out for each other. My premise is that as a nation our goal is to do the same for the people at large--in this case by the application of medical science."

"One immediate and central problem is that in a free-market health-care system such as that current in the United States, a substantial fraction of the population cannot afford the health care that they urgently need. No money, no health care."

"Would universal health insurance solve the problems of access to health care?"

"In the United States, the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid for only certain segments of the population demonstrated that the resulting improved access to health care substantially reduced disparities in health care utilization."

"Universal coverage need not restrict the rich from buying what they like in the medical marketplace; it would merely prevents (sic) people from dying for lack of a bank account."

"What is important, what is at the heart of the problem that is the present American system of health care is inequitable--all men may be created equal, but they are not equal in the health care they receive in America, and the inequality involves money"

"The struggle is not to stay healthy but to stay alive in a nation whose establishment derides poverty, social services, and low-cost medical care, an establishment that hurls the invective "socialized medicine" at every attempt to make health care more universal.

"The rich don't mind it; they remain aloof from the boiling pot of daily struggle; they don't care much about the national economy as long as the national economy is used to preserve the riches."

"Health care is applied science, a problem in medical engineering, and the twisting of the assessment of health care in America is certainly a forum of junk science."

The whole chapter reads like this, and what I read of the rest of the book is not much better. The chapter on Tobacco finishes by complaining that the government can't just ban the substance. The chapter on pharmaceuticals goes on for pages about the corruption of science by private funding. His view of free markets is best characterized by statement:

"Why not go all the way and return to the free-market unregulated jungle of the nineteenth century, the jungle that sold to consumers cocaine in Coco-Cola, arsenic in milk, and maggots in milk".

Or maybe this one:

"We're to be 'libertarians' in the wild, all of us free to do whatever we like in the jungle, free to live our individual lives without any connection to the group, without any connection to the human species, free to be isolated savages in the Friedman free-market jungle. Child labor laws? In the Friedman free-market jungle there is no regulation of industry. Forget about child labor laws. No thank you, Milton Friedman."

Of course, the book also criticizes government. But often the problem is that the government doesn't do enough (not enough regulation, no banning of tobacco, no universal health care). There are legitimate complaints about government as well, but the attitude seems clear. Government is wrong in particular isolated cases, the free-market is wrong in general.

But here's what I find most interesting. The author thought he was getting away from politics and focusing on science as he discussed the health care system. And apparently Peter Faraday on this thread thinks that this is a "centrist". Both seem to believe that these anti-capitalist, pro-socialist views are non-controversial and in the middle of the political spectrum.

This is he lesson from the book. A book allegedly about junk science (and as far as some of that goes, it had some interesting thoughts) is swimming in anti-capitalist rhetoric. The anti-capitalist worldview is so unconditionally accepted that they don't even realize how much it permeates every topic they discuss.










Post 12

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 1:28pmSanction this postReply
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So far, no one here has dealt with the content of my major post, except to say I ought not to call Rowlands a liar but say instead that he's mistaken; and to call Agin a Leftist, a socialist, or whatever; and to question my identity. No one has yet to deal with my criticisms of Rowlands' statements about the book, or the content of the book, since aside from myself and Rowlands, no one else here seems to have read the book. Is this objective reasoning? Is this what Ayn Rand would want? The last sentence of the book is, "For if truth brings freedom, what can lies bring us but slavery?" Does anyone care anymore about freedom, or is it all now lies ("mistakes") and throwing labels around: Leftist, socialist, Fascist, Rightist, Rightard, Greenspan selfishness, Randian obtuseness, liberal, NeoCon, whatever? The Rightist National Review calls Agin a "leftist-fascist", and the Leftist Nation doesn't like him because he says they twist science to suit their agenda. Have a nice day.

Faraday



Post 13

Friday, November 10, 2006 - 2:28pmSanction this postReply
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What is an "anti-Capitalist world view"??? Since 20th century capitalism modified and ameliorated 19th capitalism, would you call 20th century capitalism "anti-Capitalist"? Since 21st century capitalism will no doubt modify 20th century capitalism, will 21st century capitalism be "anti-capitalism"? At several places in the book, the author says capitalism needs to be modified, not abandoned. As for regulation, the only regulation seriously called for in the book is regulation to prevent telling lies to the public. You cannot have an Objectivist society if individuals are prevented from reasoning in their self-interest due to phony information from the people who control the flow of information. If the people who control the flow of information are allowed to lie to the public, you quickly have a slave society.

These are the issues that need to be dealt with -- without reflex Rightist dismissal of a serious problem. Throwing the label "socialist" at some conclusion you don't like is not Randian reason, it's baloney.

Too many people are "rugged individualist capitalists" until they are wheeled into an intensive care unit with a heart attack. Then they demand all modern science can give them, the modern science funded by the society at large -- by the federal government. Well, if you're that rugged and independent of society, the next time you lie in an ambulance, tell the driver to take you out to the woods somewhere, anywhere but a hospital using modern medicine funded by our "socialist" government.

Hypocrisy is like a fungus, parasitic to the last reserve.

Faraday



Post 14

Saturday, November 11, 2006 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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It always comes down to the question of whether the government has a responsibility to "take care" of its citizens — whether every citizen should be forced to be responsible for the choices that all the others have made. If so, the meaning of "prudence" loses its meaning and ceases to be a virtue because there are no consequences for not being prudent.

I defend the right for myself and others to be imprudent but I choose to be prudent. As for all the things that can happen through no fault of your own — "shit happens."

It's prudent to maintain a close and happy relationship with your family and friends and they may provide sustenance in times of trouble.

Sam  




Post 15

Monday, November 13, 2006 - 9:42amSanction this postReply
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Again, if you read the constitution, the "general welfare" is specifically designed as a limiting factor, not a granted power.  For example, it means that any benefit must apply generally - this means that paying to fix someone's broken leg does not apply generally, as it only applies to the person with the broken leg.  On the other hand, paying for the army or police applies to everyone.

Joe provided direct quotes from the book in Post 11.  It seems very clear in black and white there.




Post 16

Monday, November 13, 2006 - 8:35pmSanction this postReply
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Peter, how familiar are you with Objectivism? You don't seem very familiar with it at all. If you're going to come on here railing against the other posters with garden variety liberal polemics and expect to convince anyone, you're only fooling yourself, unless you just like to vent. But in that case, no one is going to take you seriously.

You ask rhetorically, what is an anti-capitalist worldview? and go on to say that 19th century capitalism was modified by 20th century capitalism, which, in turn, will undoubtedly be modified by 21st century capitalism. Let's define our terms. "Capitalism," according to Objectivism, refers to "a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned." To "modify" such a system is to render it non-capitalist by definition. What we have today is not capitalism but a mixed economy -- a mixture of freedom and government controls.

As Rand observes, "When government controls are introduced into a free economy, they create economic dislocations, hardships and problems which, if the controls are not repealed, necessitate still further controls, which necessitate still further controls, etc. Thus a chain reaction is set up: the victimized groups seek redress by imposing controls on the profiteering groups, who retaliate in the same manner, on an ever widening scale."

Is this the kind of "modification" of capitalism that you favor?

- Bill



Post 17

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 8:57pmSanction this postReply
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I don't want to get involved in arguments about definitions. Rowlands chose to review a book and present his review to the public. The book has 19 chapters (see below), but Rowlands essentially focuses only on one chapter, Chapter 9, and ignores the other chapters. He apparently comes to the book with preconceptions about regulations and health care, which makes him oppose the views of Chapter 9, but the fact is that chapter is the least important part of the book, and I should think anyone with an honest interest in Reason, rather than in merely finding rationales for Political Beliefs, would try to look at the book, which is closely argued by a scientist of long experience -- look at the book and see if there is anything to be learned from it. Instead, Rowlands does not even read the whole book, and dismisses what he has read because of his political biases. Unhappily, since Rowlands is the guru here, I take what he says seriously, and I find it sad.

Here is the Table of Contents of the book JUNK SCIENCE:

CONTENTS

Introduction

Part I: The Moons of Jupiter
----------------------------
1. Science, Junk Science, and Dogma
2. Fraud and Fabrication in Science

Part II: Buyer Beware
---------------------
3. The Food and Diet Circus: Eat Your Way to Happiness
4. GM Foods: Frankenstein in a Corn Patch
5. Ageing and Longevity: Live Forever Now
6. Tobacco: Drug-Dealing in America

Part III: Medical Follies
-------------------------
7. Junk Medicine, Big Pharma, Big Profits
8. Quack Doctoring: It's a Free Country, Isn't It?
9. Health Care in America: Sorry, Not For Everyone
10. The Talk-Therapy Flea Market

Part IV: Poison and Bombs in the Greenhouse
-------------------------------------------
11. Pollution: Private Interest and Public Poison
12. Missiles and Terrorism: No Place to Hide
13. Global Warming: Yes, Your Beach House May Be Gone

Part V: Religion, Embryos, and Cloning
--------------------------------------
14. Creationism: The World as an Egg
15. Stem Cells: The Petri Dish Blues
16. Cloning: Will We Have A Hundred Jerry Falwells?

Part VI: Genes, Behavior, and Race
----------------------------------
17. Genes and Behavior: You Need a Golf Gene Here
18. Race and IQ: Two Myths Make a Bumble

Part VII: On Truth and Lies
---------------------------
19. Our Failures: Is Anyone Innocent?


Here is what the NEW SCIENTIST magazine (UK) says about the book:

"Dan Agin, an emeritus biologist at the University of Chicago, is
passionate in defence of science. In JUNK SCIENCE he targets
those who abuse or distort it, starting with scientists who fake
results. This is neither rare nor easily uncovered, he warns.
Agin lambasts the Bush administration, Big Tobacco, the
pharmaceutical industry, mainstream and alternative medicine,
psychotherapy, the religious right and others who deny or attack
inconvenient research. Anyone who values good science will
appreciate finding all this together in a cogent, powerfully
argued book."

A recent long review of this book appeared in the San Diego
Union-Tribune, October 22, 2006. The review can be accessed at:

www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20061022/news_lz1v22junk.html

Here is another comment about the book:

"JUNK SCIENCE is a passionate, minutely-informed and scrupulously fair analysis of all the abuses and misuses of science that are rampant today -- a clarion call to action which concerns us all. One might wish that such a book were not needed, but it is, more now than ever before." -- Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.

Is the dismissal of this book by Rowlands justified? I don't think so. The puzzle is that Rowlands posted his silly review in the first place, and a subsidiary puzzle is the presence of the click-button sending people to Amazon.com to buy the book! He tells you the book isn't worth a damn, that he did not finish it, but he invites you to buy the book so he can make his 5% commission from Amazon. What a lovely game!

Faraday



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Post 18

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 6:18amSanction this postReply
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Peter,
I can't tell whether you think the book is so good or you think Joe's review was so bad.  Not that it matters.  I thank Joe for his review and, based on it, I will not read the book.  I trust Joe's opinion on this matter and he has saved me some time and effort.  There are many good books out there on this subject, and so little time.
You said:
The puzzle is that Rowlands posted his silly review in the first place, and a subsidiary puzzle is the presence of the click-button sending people to Amazon.com to buy the book! He tells you the book isn't worth a damn, that he did not finish it, but he invites you to buy the book so he can make his 5% commission from Amazon. What a lovely game!

That's because, contrary to what you said earlier in your post, Joe is not the guru here.  He gave his opinion of the book and provided a link for those who wanted to disregard his opinion and pursue it further by going to Amazon.com.  Ah, but it's the commission that bothers you.  So, you think Joe's business strategy is to trash a product so that others will buy it and he will profit from it?  Joe: don't quit your day job!

Glenn




Post 19

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 6:45amSanction this postReply
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Wow Peter just look at these chapter titles and the BIAS just JUMPS from the pages of its own accord:

3. The Food and Diet Circus: Eat Your Way to Happiness -
- implication is that you cannot make your own decisions on how to eat, government needed!
4. GM Foods: Frankenstein in a Corn Patch
- the canard that GM foods are "bad" and again, the government must step in!
6. Tobacco: Drug-Dealing in America
- we know what is best for you. 

Part III: Medical Follies
-------------------------
7. Junk Medicine, Big Pharma, Big Profits
- Profits are BAD
9. Health Care in America: Sorry, Not For Everyone
- Yes, just being human and in need means you should get it on my dime
How about - Homes, sorry, not for everyone or cars?
11. Pollution: Private Interest and Public Poison
- Evil Business is poisoning the publick!
12. Missiles and Terrorism: No Place to Hide
- This has to be a winner, I am sure.  Rosie recently told us that we should realize that terrorists are people, too!
13. Global Warming: Yes, Your Beach House May Be Gone
- More bullshit on non-existant global warming

Are you friends with the Author or something?  This is clearly a hack job of a book by an anti-capitalist leftist who thinks he knows how to live my life and how to spend my money.  Fuck him and Fuck the rest of you thieves and thugs - that is what all this is about, wresting control from individuals for your benefit on behalf of the so-called "public."




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