Re: Glyphosate safety and Occam's Razor
Bruce Bacon (email@example.com)
Fri, 21 Aug 1998 09:56:59 -0500
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 18:38:42 EST
From: "E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor" <ACLARK@plant.uoguelph.ca>
Subject: Re: Glyphosate safety-an oxymoron
Ann Clark wrote:
SANET members may be interested to learn about just how pervasive
conflict of interest can be in industry-funded research conducted by
"independent" researchers. A recent issue of the New England Journal
of Medicine published a fascinating study that will confirm your
worst nightmares (and prejudices) about industry-published research -
all of it published in respected refereed journals. I have been off
of SANET for a while, due to other commitments, so if this article
has not been discussed, let me know and I'll outline it.
BfB : I'd certainly be interested in your outline. thanks.
The problem is "objectivity", which some scientists believe so
fervently (one might be tempted to say religiously) to be part and
parcel of the practice of science. The problem is that the
definition of objectivity is, itself, subjective - and most
especially in science. As commonly applied, one is seen to
be objective if one's values and beliefs conform to those of the
perceiver; if not, then you are being subjective. I regret to say
that too many of us are simply unable to see how our own values, and
beliefs, are shaping, coloring, and indeed - dare I say it - biasing
a) the questions we choose to ask, b) the treatments and
measurements we choose to make, and c) ultimately, the very
outcome of the research itself.
BfB: This sounds like a quite appropriate summary of one paradigm
describing another. The role of choice and freedom in paradigm allegiance
is the root of politics and science. Certainly information visible from
one point of view is often blanked or 'distorted' from another. I
subscribed to the Journal of Pesticide Reform at a time when brave citizens
of Oregon were mounting action against aerial spraying by timber management
paradigm where families' health was impacted and put at risk. As a former
student in Oregon, I wanted information (news and science) not accessible
from the mainline news, let alone agency science.
This reminds me of recent postings on SANET under heading"Occam's Razor"
which established multiple paradigms of discourse, one of which was to
inaugurate a site of more practical topics to get away from such
reflection, deemed less than practical. (see 'archives')
It also is reminiscent of recent postings "No Till Mania" where
practical methods for implementing such a quest ranged from 'spray it and
leave the stubble on top' to looking to understand natural systems soils
and succession (e.g.prairie, forests) in order to mimic these processes
with production systems.
I remember my Mom's good advice. "Choose your paradigms carefully,
people judge your character by the paradigms you keep."
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