Dogging Vermont Issues

Comment on “SEEDING DOUBT — How Self-Appointed Guardians of “Sound Science” Tip the Scales Toward Industry”

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/15/how-self-appointed-guardians-of-sound-science-tip-the-scales-toward-industry/

AT A TIME when public mistrust of science runs high, and non-experts are hard-pressed to separate fact from industry-sponsored spin, Sense About Science, a charity based in London with an affiliate in New York, presents itself as a trustworthy arbiter. The organization purports to help the misinformed public sift through alarmist claims about public health and the environment by directing journalists, policymakers, and others to vetted sources who can explain the evidence behind debates about controversial products like e-cigarettes and flame retardants.

One reason the public is so confused, suggested Tracey Brown, the group’s director, in a recent Guardian op-ed, is that the media feeds alarmism by focusing on who sponsors scientific studies, rather than asking more important questions about whether the research is sound. Even when there is no evidence of bias, Brown contended, journalists attack industry-funded research, running exposés on subjects such as frackinggenetically modified plants, and sugar. Brown lamented that what she called “the ‘who funded it?’ question” is too often asked by “people with axes to grind.”

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