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The Very Stupid and the Very Powerful

Today the good Walt Dardyman reminded me of a quote:

"The very stupid and the very powerful have something in common; they don't alter their opinions to fit the facts, they try to alter the facts to fit their opinions." - The Doctor, Face of Evil, 1977

This is what a real conspiracy looks like; the suppression and alteration of scientific research to suit economic interests and imposed by political authorities. Their attempt to "manage perceptions" and public opinion does not change reality.

It is why open access to data in research is important. It is why public bodies should engage in full and transparent disclosure of material. It is why the principles of extended peer review ought to be respected - because it catches attempts to subvert it.

It is also why I find it very hard to have much respect for self-proclaimed "Internet experts" on a subject; because they do not have their opinions and alleged expertise tested by those who actually are experts. Formal qualifications aren't everything of course, but they are certainly much better than nothing.

It's almost as if some people think that marketing is more important than reality.

More than half of government environmental scientists say their work has been suppressed: report

"More than half of environmental scientists working for Australian federal and state governments report having been "prohibited from communicating scientific information", according to the results of a new survey.

Of the more than 200 environmental scientists from government, university and non-government organisations (NGOs) consulted for the survey, those working for government reported the highest rates of suppression or interference in communicating their work publicly."

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-09-09/environment-scientists-ce...

Australian ecologists say their findings are 'commonly suppressed'

"Australia's ecologists say they face gags on getting their information into the public domain, potentially leading to poor policy outcomes for issues ranging from threatened species to tackling climate change.

A survey of 220 people conducted by the Ecological Society of Australia and published on Wednesday in the Conservation Letters journal, found about half of government respondents, and almost 40 per cent of industry respondents, had been prohibited from public communication about their research.

..

About a third of government respondents reported higher rates of "undue modification of their work by their employers", with about 30 per cent in industry and five per cent among university respondents reporting the same.

Such modifications included substantive changes to a text or story "that downplays, masks, or misleads about environmental impacts", the paper found."

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/australian-ecologists-sa...

A wake-up call': World wildlife populations in heavy decline, report finds

"Global wildlife populations have fallen by two-thirds in 50 years, while some Australian animal populations have been almost entirely wiped out.

Deforestation, illegal wildlife trade and unsustainable agriculture are the main causes for the crisis and are also contributing to the emergence of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, according to the long-running Living Planet report from World Wide Fund For Nature."

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/a-wake-up-call-world-...

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