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« The Slippery Slope, in Action, Before Your Very Eyes | Main | Spoiled Food Activists »
Wednesday
Aug222012

Don't Just Believe The Activist Do-Gooders

In my op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Examiner, I explained why you shouldn’t take the science claims made by do-good nanny-state activists at face value.

I continue with that theme in a piece in today’s Forbes with the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry I. Miller. We write,

The 18th century philosopher and economist Adam Smith observed, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”  That view is one justification for giving federal agencies so much money, control and discretion over commerce and other aspects of our lives.   And when it comes to research on the risks of products or activities, because the government is here to protect us, so the thinking goes, the research it funds or performs is more trustworthy than that emanating from the private sector.

Consider the following scenario.  A federally-funded researcher at a state university hospital finds a link between a certain pesticide and a debilitating disease whose cause(s) has been a mystery.  After learning of the findings, the pesticide’s manufacturer, a huge multinational company, spends millions of dollars to replicate the data. Yet the experiments performed by the company’s scientists fail to find the potentially deadly link reported by the university scientist.

Going back to yesterday’s theme about whether to trust the activists simply because they claim to be fighting for the public good, we continue,

Consider the following scenario.  A federally-funded researcher at a state university hospital finds a link between a certain pesticide and a debilitating disease whose cause(s) has been a mystery.  After learning of the findings, the pesticide’s manufacturer, a huge multinational company, spends millions of dollars to replicate the data. Yet the experiments performed by the company’s scientists fail to find the potentially deadly link reported by the university scientist.

Whom should you trust?  The mantra among activists, the media and some politicians is that studies by industry can’t be trusted, while government-funded science is more disinterested and, therefore, more reliable.

Therefore, you might be inclined to go with the latter.  But you’d be wrong.

This is not just a hypothetical situation. Read today’s column in Forbes for the troubling details you won’t find in the New York Times or Washington Post.

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