Bending science : how special interests corrupt public health research /
Thomas O. McGarity, Wendy E. Wagner.
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2008.
viii, 384 p.
0674028155, 9780674028159
More Details
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2008.
contents note
Why bend science? the players, the setting, and the consequences -- Where are the scientists? distorting science without oversight or penalty -- Shaping science: the art of creating research to fit one's needs -- Hiding science: the art of concealing unwelcome information -- Attacking science: the art of turning reliable research into "junk" -- Harassing scientists: the art of bullying scientists who produce damaging research -- Packaging science: the art of assembling an expert group to advance a favored outcome -- Spinning science: the art of manipulating public perceptions about credible science -- Restoring science: forcing bent science out into the open -- Reforming science oversight: instituting more vigorous oversight processes to ensure the integrity of science in policy-making -- Final thoughts: a broader perspective on the problem and the prospects for change.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-12-01:
In an era when basic and applied science are strongly embedded in high-stakes public policy--from climate change and environmental protection to traffic safety, food security, medical investments, and risk reduction legislation--the role of the scientist as dispassionate observer of data and events has never been questioned more. McGarity and Wagner (both, University of Texas) challenge the "separatist" ideal of science--that investigators of policy-relevant problems proceed on linear, nonideological and economically disinterested paths to peer-reviewed findings. Through detailed investigation of regulatory decision making, corporate lobbying, and administrative decision making, they contend that scientists' work is vulnerable to infusion of bias, predetermined sponsor/investigator outcomes, and pernicious attack by other scientists. These interventions regularly shape research agendas and outcomes and, in a political environment of interest group pluralism, ensure that status quo power politics remain supreme in regulation. While this is an important, well-researched argument, it could benefit from insights of philosophers of science and social scientists who study the organizational aspects of science and policy making. Most effective if supplemented by other perspectives on science's role in regulation (e.g., Mary Graham, Democracy by Disclosure, CH, Jul'03, 40-6699). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. L. Feldman University of California, Irvine
Review Quotes
Bending Science is an intelligent and compelling blend of investigative journalism and theoretical analysis of the structural and functional flaws of the research enterprise, from the development of testable ideas to the use of its results for practical purposes...Bending Science [is] an indispensable read for our current troubled times. All in all, this book is a must-read not only for researchers devoted to the scientific method but also for all who wish to become competent consumers of research that can influence their lives. The narrative is an eye-opener, which will provide the reader with tools to understand the research process and protect himself/herself from advocacy-based distortions.
Bending Science is so chock-full of ideas and insights...McGarity and Wagner's insight has large implications both for potential legal reforms and for public faith in the integrity of the scientific process...Bending Science is an immensely important book. It is one of quite a large number of books published recently on the manipulations of science by interest groups and the government. Yet even in this crowded field, Bending Science stakes out its own ground and makes an invaluable contribution to the debate over the role of science in public policy.
Drawing together a host of little-known but dramatic cases, this landmark book documents more comprehensively than any previous study, what has been suspected for years: how extensively scientific data are misused and abused in regulatory and tort law. Society depends on science to guide public policy on health and safety, but as McGarity and Wagner show, many interest groups do all they can to influence --and undermine-- independent and honest research. Bending Science shows just how far science has been corrupted, and offers a road to reform.
Thanks to extraordinary detective work into both law and science, Bending Science makes a compelling case that the system of policy-relevant science has gone badly off the tracks, and that law is both part of the problem and the solution. Powerful but not polemical, McGarity and Wagner show groups of all political stripes, and the government itself, have misrepresented and manipulated science.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2008
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Main Description
What do we know about the possible poisons that industrial technologies leave in our air and water? How reliable is the science that federal regulators and legislators use to protect the public from dangerous products? As this disturbing book shows, ideological or economic attacks on research are part of an extensive pattern of abuse.Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy Wagner reveal the range of sophisticated legal and financial tactics political and corporate advocates use to discredit or suppress research on potential human health hazards. Scientists can find their research blocked, or find themselves threatened with financial ruin. Corporations, plaintiff attorneys, think tanks, even government agencies have been caught suppressing or distorting research on the safety of chemical products.With alarming stories drawn from the public record, McGarity and Wagner describe how advocates attempt to bend science or "spin" findings. They reveal an immense range of tools available to shrewd partisans determined to manipulate research.Bending Science exposes an astonishing pattern of corruption and makes a compelling case for reforms to safeguard both the integrity of science and the public health.
Bowker Data Service Summary
With alarming stories drawn from the public record, McGarity and Wagner describe how advocates attempt to bend science or 'spin' findings. They reveal an immense range of tools available to shrewd partisans determined to manipulate research.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Why Bend Science?: The Players, the Setting, and the Consequencesp. 20
Where Are the Scientists?: Distorting Science without Oversight or Penaltyp. 44
Shaping Science: The Art of Creating Research to Fit One's Needsp. 60
Hiding Science: The Art of Concealing Unwelcome Informationp. 97
Attacking Science: The Art of Turning Reliable Research into "Junk"p. 128
Harassing Scientists: The Art of Bullying Scientists Who Produce Damaging Researchp. 157
Packaging Science: The Art of Assembling an Expert Group to Advance a Favored Outcomep. 181
Spinning Science: The Art of Manipulating Public Perceptions about Credible Sciencep. 204
Restoring Science: Forcing Bent Science Out into the Openp. 229
Reforming Science Oversight: Instituting More Vigorous Oversight Processesp. 259
Final Thoughts: A Broader Perspective on the Problem and the Prospects for Changep. 291
Notesp. 301
Indexp. 377
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