The following article is very long, so I am just quoting portions of it. The link/source is below, for those who wish to read its entirety:
The Doors of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything
By Tim O’Shea
SCIENCE FOR HIRE
PR firms have become very sophisticated in the preparation of news releases. They have learned how to attach the names of famous scientists to research that those scientists have not even looked at. (Stauber, p 201) It’s a common practice. In this way, the editors of newspapers and TV news shows are themselves often unaware that an individual release is a total PR fabrication. Or at least they have “deniability,” right?
Stauber tells the amazing story of how leaded gas came into the picture. In 1922, General Motors discovered that adding lead to gasoline gave cars more horsepower. When there was some concern about safety, GM paid the Bureau of Mines to do some fake “testing” and publish spurious research that ‘proved’ that inhalation of lead was harmless. Enter Charles Kettering.
Founder of the world famous Sloan-Kettering Memorial Institute for medical research, Charles Kettering also happened to be an executive with General Motors. By some strange coincidence, we soon have Sloan-Kettering issuing reports stating that lead occurs naturally in the body and that the body has a way of eliminating low level exposure. Through its association with The Industrial Hygiene Foundation and PR giant Hill & Knowlton, Sloane-Kettering opposed all anti-lead research for years. (Stauber p 92). Without organized scientific opposition, for the next 60 years more and more gasoline became leaded, until by the 1970s, 90% or our gasoline was leaded.
Finally it became too obvious to hide that lead was a major carcinogen, which they knew all along, and leaded gas was phased out in the late 1980s. But during those 60 years, it is estimated that some 30 million tons of lead were released in vapor form onto American streets and highways. 30 million tons. (Stauber)
That is PR, my friends…
In 1993 a guy named Peter Huber wrote a new book and coined a new term. The book was Galileo’s Revenge and the term was junk science. Huber’s shallow thesis was that real science supports technology, industry, and progress. Anything else was suddenly junk science. Not surprisingly, Stauber explains how Huber’s book was supported by the industry-backed Manhattan Institute.
Huber’s book was generally dismissed not only because it was so poorly written, but because it failed to realize one fact: true scientific research begins with no conclusions. Real scientists are seeking the truth because they do not yet know what the truth is.
True scientific method goes like this:
1. form a hypothesis
2. make predictions for that hypothesis
3. test the predictions
4. reject or revise the hypothesis using the test results
5. describe the limitations of the present position
6. always ask the next question
Boston University scientist Dr. David Ozonoff explains that ideas in science are themselves like “living organisms, that must be nourished, supported, and cultivated with resources for making them grow and flourish.” (Stauber p 205) Great ideas that don’t get this financial support because the commercial angles are not immediately obvious – these ideas wither and die.
Another way you can often distinguish real science from phony is that real science points out flaws in its own research. Phony science pretends there were no flaws.
THE REAL JUNK SCIENCE
Contrast this with modern PR and its constant pretensions to sound science. Corporate sponsored research, whether it’s in the area of drugs, GM foods, or chemistry begins with predetermined conclusions. It is the job of the scientists then to prove that these conclusions are true, because of the economic upside that proof will bring to the industries paying for that research. This invidious approach to science has shifted the entire focus of research in America during the past 50 years, as any true scientist is likely to admit. If a drug company is spending 10 million dollars on a research project to prove the viability of some new drug, and the preliminary results start coming back about the dangers of that drug, what happens? Right. No more funding. The well dries up. What is being promoted under such a system? Science? Or rather Entrenched Medical Error?
Stauber documents the increasing amount of corporate sponsorship of university research. (206) This has nothing to do with the pursuit of knowledge. Scientists lament that research has become just another commodity, something bought and sold. (Crossen)…
THE MIRAGE OF PEER REVIEW
Publish or perish is the classic dilemma of every research scientist. That means whoever expects funding for the next research project had better get the current research paper published in the best scientific journals. And we all know that the best scientific journals, like JAMA, New England Journal, British Medical Journal, etc. are peer-reviewed. Peer review means that any articles which actually get published, between all those full color drug ads and pharmaceutical centerfolds, have been reviewed and accepted by some really smart guys with a lot of credentials. The assumption is, if the article made it past peer review, the data and the conclusions of the research study have been thoroughly checked out and bear some resemblance to physical reality.
But there are a few problems with this hot little set up. First off, money.
Even though prestigious venerable medical journals pretend to be so objective and scientific and incorruptible, the reality is that they face the same type of being called to account that all glossy magazines must confront: don’t antagonize your advertisers. Those full-page drug ads in the best journals cost millions, Jack. How long will a pharmaceutical company pay for ad space in a magazine that prints some very sound scientific research paper that attacks the safety of the drug in the centerfold? Think about it. The editors may lack moral fibre, but they aren’t stupid.
Another problem is the conflict of interest thing. There’s a formal requirement for all medical journals that any financial ties between an author and a product manufacturer be disclosed in the article. In practice, it never happens. A study done in 1997 of 142 medical journals did not find even one such disclosure. (Wall St. Journal, 2 Feb 99)
A 1998 study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that 96% of peer reviewed articles had financial ties to the drug they were studying. (Stelfox, 1998) Big shock, huh? Any disclosures? Yeah, right. This study should be pointed out whenever somebody starts getting too pompous about the objectivity of peer review, like they often do.
Then there’s the outright purchase of space. A drug company may simply pay $100,000 to a journal to have a favorable article printed. (Stauber, p 204)
Fraud in peer review journals is nothing new. In 1987, the New England Journal ran an article that followed the research of R. Slutsky MD over a seven year period. During that time, Dr. Slutsky had published 137 articles in a number of peer-reviewed journals. NEJM found that in at least 60 of these 137, there was evidence of major scientific fraud and misrepresentation, including:
reporting data for experiments that were never done
reporting measurements that were never made
reporting statistical analyses that were never done (Engler)
Dean Black PhD, describes what he the calls the Babel Effect that results when this very common and frequently undetected scientific fraud in peer-reviewed journals is quoted by other researchers, who are in turn re-quoted by still others, and so on.
Want to see something that sort of re-frames this whole discussion? Check out the McDonald’s ads which routinely appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Then keep in mind that this is the same publication that for almost 50 years ran cigarette ads proclaiming the health benefits of tobacco. (Robbins)
Very scientific, oh yes…
…A classic axiom of propaganda is that people shouldn’t be allowed to think too much about what the government is doing in their name. After all, there’s more to life than politics, right? So while the power group has its cozy little wars and agendas going on, the people need to have their attention diverted.
All the strongmen of history would have given their eyeteeth to have at their disposal the number and types of distractions available to today’s regimes:
TV sports, its orchestrated frenzy and spectacle, where the fix is usually in
the endless succession of unspeakably boring, inane movies, short on plot, long on CGI, re-working the same 20 premises, over and over
the wanton sexless flash of ‘talent shows’ with their uninspired lack of talent, a study in split second phony images
colossally dull TV programs which serve the secondary purpose of instilling proper robot attitudes into people who have little other instruction in life values
the artistic Mojave of modern music, with its soulless cyber-droning, a constant quest for the nadir of reptilian brain stimulation, devoid of lyrical competence, instrumental proficiency, or human passion
the ever-retreating promise of financial success, switched now to the trappings and toys that suggest success, available to anyone with a credit card
organized superstitions of all varieties, with their requisite pseudo-spiritual trappings
the constant sensationalization of crimes and “issues” throughout the world whose collective goal is the humble and grateful acknowledgement of “how good we’ve really got it”
dwelling for months on the minutiae of unsupported allegations of impropriety, preferably sexual, of a celebrity personality
non-events presented as events, brought to life by media alone, employing one of the Big Three hooks: sex, blood, and racism
With these ceaseless noisy, banal distractions, the forces promoting the general decline in intelligence and awareness jubilantly engulf us on all sides. Media science holds the advantage: as people get dumber and dumber year by year, it gets easier and easier to keep them dumb. The only challenge is that their threshold keeps getting lower. So in order to keep their attention, messages have to become more obvious and blatant, taking nothing for granted.
Here are some indicators of our declining intelligence:
– flagrant errors of grammar and spelling rampant in advertising, which go unnoticed
– declining SAT scores and the arbitrary resetting of Average, which has occurred at least twice in the past 8 years, in order to cover up how dumb our kids are really getting
– forcing the the dumbed-down Common Core philosophy upon American elementary schools
– increased volume and decreased speed of the voices of newsreaders on radio and TV
– the limited vocabulary and clichéd speech allowed in radio programs; the obvious lack of education and requisite pedestrian mentality required of the corporate simians who are featured on radio
– increasing illiteracy of high school graduates, both written and spoken
– the unwritten policy requiring school teachers, especially math and English teachers, to pass students who have failing marks, especially if they’re a certain race or other, so that the school won’t “look bad”
– decreasing requirements for masters theses and PhD dissertations in both length and content
– increasing oversimplification of movie and TV plot lines – absence of subtlety in conceptual and dramatic content; blatant moralizing of compliant robot values
– the speed at which images on TV are flashed, giving the viewer barely enough time to recognize which sledgehammer idea they are referring to before the next one appears, about 2 seconds later. That way there is no possible way the brain can follow a train of thought in any kind of depth. From childhood the brain learns that it is not to be tasked with understanding abstractions or concepts of any subtlety from the information presented. All the brain has to do is react to the incessant bombardment of fragmented ADD-generating visual stimuli without trying to derive sense or logic from it. This is why TV should be watched only with the sound off, since it has generally the same educational value as a lava lamp.
– the enormous proportion of time spent by TV channels telling the viewer what will be shown in the future, leaving no time for actually delivering what they have already endlessly promised in the recent past, which should be airing at the present moment.
– newspaper articles that are not written by reporters but that are scientifically crafted phrase by canny phrase by the PR industry and placed into the columns of syndication in the guise of ‘hard news’
– the recent removal of the basic science prerequisites for US chiropractic schools, which had been in place for 50 years
– Jerky, clumsy news clips, loaded with coarse innuendo and nonsequitur, ridiculously brief: most news clips evoke only the most superficial suggestion of events which may or may not have transpired, resulting generally in the transfer of no information
– the downward spiral of the level of ordinary conversations, which are commonly just exercises in stringing together random clichés from the very finite stock of endlessly repeated homogeneous bytes. It’s as though we’re only allowed to have 50 thoughts, and most conversation is just linking these 50 programmed audio clips together in a different order: America becomes our own private Sicily
– in popular music the overriding absence of melody, lyric, chord complexity, or instrumental competence
– increase in mandating neurotoxic drugs and vaccines with new laws and regulations
TERRORISTS ARE US?
Imagine for a moment that 9/11 was a put-up job engineered for the sole purpose of cementing the current regime into power and frightening the bovine populace into surrendering even more of what little freedom they have left. Hypothetical situation now, just work with me a little. Imagine there never were any dissident crazed terrorists representing Osama or Saddam, but instead a highly disciplined though slightly whacked-out team of military special forces, programmed somehow to think they were doing something valuable for some faction or other. A put-up job, from the inside.
So then imagine that all the violence and stress perpetrated on the collective American psyche since 9/11 about war, bioterrorism, and security has all been completely unnecessary. And that all the trillions of dollars of extra security and wasted time in airports and borders was also totally unnecessary because there never were any terrorists, except us. And all the shrill media articles and “stories” that support the few underlying events have been unnecessary, their prime purpose being self promotion. Think how much our quality of life has suffered. What if all this stress has been totally unnecessary?
Many of our best people have come to precisely these conclusions. Once you got past the initial hurdle of being able to consider the unthinkable possibility that the present regime could be so obsessed with gaining political advantage that they would actually blow up 3000 of our own people, the rest falls into place. Over the top? Not such a stretch really when you compare the thousands that have been sacrificed to the whims of other blood-mad tyrants the world over, throughout all of recorded history. Exactly how are we any better?
WHAT DO WE REALLY KNOW?
When it comes to a discussion of what’s going on in the world, the honest individual must admit that he has almost no idea. When was the last time Obama invited you into the Green Room for a private chat with Cheney and Hagel about the future of big oil? When did Bill Gates last invite you up to his Redmond digs for a wine and cheese brainstorming session about the next Big Thing? Or when did your neighbor who lives three blocks away from you call you up to tell you about the unfulfilled plans of his father who just found out he’s dying of cancer? How many life stories of the world’s seven billion people do you know anything about?
This is to say nothing of fluid events which are coming in and out of existence every day between the nations of the world that only the few ever hear about. What is really going on? Much more effort is spent covering up and packaging actual events that are taking place than in trying to accurately report and evaluate them. These are questions of epistemology: what can we know? The answer is: very little, if our only source of information is the superficial everyday media. The few people who buy books don’t read them. Passive absorption of pre-interpreted already-figured-out data is the preferred method…
The entire article can be found here: