Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Science Establishment

When Mike's Eyes were watching the Super Bowl halftime show with the Rolling Stones singing "Satisfaction," Mike's Ears were hearing a different set of lyrics:

"A man comes on the radio,
says coffee is good for me,
then a lady comes on the radio,
says coffee is bad for me,

Then a man comes on the television,
says sunshine will give me my vitamin D,
nother man comes on the television,
says sunshine will give me a skin disease.

I can't get no..."

Well, you know the rest. But I think I was hearing those lyrics because of the various science articles I'de been reading recently. Wednesday another one came along.

The Feb. 8th print edition of the Detroit Free Press has an article "A low-fat diet is no shield for women" by Patricia Anstett of the Free Press. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on the same day. Evidently, all those studies showing that a low fat diet would help against heart disease, strokes and breast and colon cancer were wrong.

Steven Milloy of Junk Science.com has an article at Fox News on all the evidence against low-fat diets that's been ignored by the establishment.

I remember an article at Tech Central Station by Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, titled "Coffee Causes Cancer! Oops, This Just In! Coffee Prevents Cancer" which can be found here.

I also read an article by Alex Lekas at Up and Coming Magazine back in June 2005 in which scientists tell us that sunshine is good and bad for us.

So, does this mean that the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will now have to redo its recently redone food pyramid? Frankly, who cares? I've never paid attention to it anyway. But this new study doesn't mean we can all ignore good eating habits like having a balanced diet, not over eating, and getting some exercise. It just proves once again the imprudence of suspending one's judgement and relying on a government establishment.

All these conflicting reports on what's supposed to be good or bad for you has got to be the cause of much public distrust of science. But to blame only science would be a mistake. It's not that scientists have suddenly gone irrational. Rather, it's the context in which we demand that scientists work, the context of a governmnet establishment.

Normally we would think of science as the pursuit of truth, that is, the facts of reality regardless of where they lead. But today science seems to be more concerned with political policy rather than scientific fact. This is due in part by the fact that many scientific institutions are now part of Government like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), The USDA, and many others. Many university science depts. also get government grants which makes them dependent on a system where scientists are paid to find problems that politicians can then try to fix with legislation, i.e. force. This is not what science is supposed to be about.

Philosopher Ayn Rand said "Government encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." To be continued
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