I've been waiting on a video to come available so I can share it with you, and now it's available.
When I was in North Dakota in early November, entomologist Jonathan Lundgren gave one of the best talks I've heard on the flawed state of science today and why we need to quit worshipping science as a god. In reality, Lundgren covered even more ground than that, but some of his most powerful information explains how science is regularly compromised to serve big money.
Lundgren speaks from experience on this issue. He was a classically trained scientist and a very successful one. He worked for USDA, had a big lab and millions of dollars in funding, won awards, and published hundreds of papers. But when he began to research neonicotinoid seed treatments as a major causative agent in honey bee colony collapse and to speak out about it, everything began to go south.
He now operates a private research institute called Blue Dasher Farm in South Dakota.
In his presentation, Lundgren said the tobacco industry, in its decades long battle against regulation, helped revolutionize the art of obscuring data-driven discussions and decisionmaking.
- Obscure inconvenient studies.
- Fund a preponderance of supportive evidence.
- Discredit and intimidate inconvenient scientists.
This can be read in a book called Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes, or seen in a documentary film by the same name.
Lundgren elaborated further.
There are problems with every scientific study. None are perfect, so these “problems” can be used to cast doubt on any study.
To overcome a study or studies negative toward a product, another option is to buy science that is supportive in spades.
If a scientist won’t shut up, the next step is to “destroy” the scientist, attack them personally and publicly so others will see and shy away, Lundgren says.
Remember too, that we are not data-driven beings, nor a data-driven society. As Lundgren says, “Data is not sufficient to change behavior.”
“Science is not conducted devoid of belief systems or opinions,” Lundgren says.
He did not say this, but it is true and alluded by his comments. Often, scientific experiments are often built to create a positive outcome the funder and the scientist or scientists believe is important.
Further, by its nature, science does not provide proof. It’s statistical underpinnings are that it examines probabilities, and the actual scientific process produces “theories” rather than facts, a differentiation completely lost on the majority of modern humans. As I have explained many times, a theory is really a well-tested idea that says something more along the lines of “this is the way we think this thing is.”
Science is just a tool. It can potentially help us with understanding. But all science is not automatically valid because it wears the name.