sexta-feira, 2 de abril de 2010

Como os Governos corrompem a Ciência

Arthur Robinson é um investigador do Instituto de Ciência e Medicina do Oregon, nos Estados Unidos, que é reconhecido por ter criado uma petição, que se opõe à origem antropogénica do Aquecimento Global, e que já reuniu o suporte e assinaturas de mais de 31000 cientistas norte-americanos. Escreveu agora um documento onde realça a forma como os Governos corrompem a Ciência. Recomendo a sua leitura integral, destacando os seguintes excerptos:

Today, the "truth" seems surrounded by "lies," and those whom we have depended upon to tell the truth appear no longer to be reliable. Worst of all, many of our scientists whom we depend upon to know the truth are … silent.

At Caltech, in the 1950s and 1960s, intellectual honesty was rigorously taught – by example. There were no courses in this. The student was simply surrounded by people who always approached their work with complete honesty. Dishonesty in any action meant immediate expulsion from the campus by one's peers. Sadly, this is no longer the case at Caltech today.

Government funding has now become so pervasive that scientific institutions and the scientists who work in them are wary of offending government. Competition for government grants is fierce, and a competing scientist strives to offend no one – and to see that other scientists on his campus are similarly cautious.

Grantsmanship gradually became the most important "scientific" skill, and the amount of grant money a scientist commands is now, in most institutions, the most important parameter that determines his advancement. The new "scientist" rushes from meeting to meeting, furiously writes grant proposals, and strives to obtain news coverage of his latest "discoveries," while leaving the actual research to technicians and students.

When the Obama administration took office in Washington in 2009, one of its first acts was to greatly increase the funds for "grants" to academic science – a reward for political support during the election. The immediate result was that research in these institutions slowed almost to a halt, as the "scientists" furiously wrote additional grant requests to compete for tickets on the new gravy train.

Increasingly, good scientists are forced to lie about their work – pretending to do the work permitted, while actually (and illegally) using their laboratories and resources for "bootlegged" research in the areas that are important. Another common technique is to complete the work and then ask for funds to do it, thereby increasing the chance for a grant from bureaucrats anxious to fund "successful" research. These activities undermine the absolute honesty that science requires.