Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Con Advocate

I am against avocation of scientists because this often leads to biased results and that Is not objective.  An example of this can be found, according to Dr. Rothman from the American  journal of public health,is the tobacco industry in the 1950s wanted away to combat the rising scientific claims that smoking is bad for you. They hired scientists and if they did not make reports that showed what the tobacco industry wanted, they fired the scientists. This tactic of biased data is not scientific and does not let all voices be heard only the ones that are popular or that have a lot of money backing it up. Advocate Scientists can lead to bad policies being enacted, especially if the data was biased.
It is also not the scientists job to advocate their findings. They don’t have time for that. Using scientist as advocates degrades the trust the public has in science. This can cause people not to want to learn about science. This can also lead to polarization of ideas especially when politicians hire scientists to make their point of view seem to be the right one.

Rothman, D. J. (2012). Consequences of industry relationships for public health and medicine. American journal of public health, 102(1), 55.
Rolles, S. (2008, 10 31). [Web log message]. Retrieved from


  1. I respectfully disagree and find your argument to be flawed. There is a really big difference between scientists being paid off to not detail results to the public and bias in policy recommendations. Your point that scientists being hired to misrepresent the "rising scientific claims" (which are tested facts, as evinced by cancer rates of smokers) exemplifies why scientists who perform sound science should be advocates- because obviously the public doesn't know how to interpret the science themselves and more easily follow what the media was tells them is safe regardless of whether or not that is what the majority of the research on the topic indicates.

  2. Your point about biased data is completely correct: biased data is not good science. But in your example of the tobacco industry, there was also advocacy against that kind of science that led to the warning label that is now on all cigarette packaging warning of the dangers of smoking. Scientific advocacy allows for an opening up of a discussion surrounding the science that is being advocated. You mention that the rise of advocating science would force only popular and well-funded voices be heard. But this assumes that there are voices to be heard at all in the first place, which there currently is not.

  3. A scientist who intentionally expresses faulty information is simply not a scientist. A scientist is not anyone who wears a lab coat. Cigarette companies had great PR, they still do in fact; even now when literally everyone in the nation knows that smoking causes lung cancer the global cigarette trade still grosses around $1,100 a second.
    The topic of science is negligible entirely. The topic at hand is how scientific information can be misinterpreted or even fraudulent: not whether or not real science advocates are "biased."

  4. One issue I find with your argument is the inclusion of scientists publishing only results that their funding source allows as advocates. Advocates would in my mind be scientists who publicized their results and ensured that due consideration was given to them during policy discussions. Such advocates would have their science presented for scrutiny by other scientists and so bias would be detected and presented by others in their results, keeping the public aware.