In Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research 1 Thomas McGarity and Wendy Wagner describe how special interest groups scheme to advance their own economic or ideological goals by using distorted or “bent” science to influence legal, regulatory and public health policy.The authors describe a “separatist view” of science and policy that assumes scientific research is sufficiently reliable for public policy deliberations and legal proceedings when it reaches them. This is illustrated as a pipeline in which it is presumed the scientific community has properly vetted the information flow through rigorous peer-review and professional oversight. The final product that exits the pipeline is understood to be unbiased and produced in accordance with the professional norms and procedures of science. The reliability, integrity and validity of the final product is indubitably accepted.The separatist view does not consider the possibility that the scientific work exiting the pipeline could be intentionally shaped and contaminated by biasing influences as it flows through the pipeline. When this occurs the final product exiting the pipeline is distorted or “bent” and bent science can result in bad decision making and bad policy.Bent science starts with a pre-determined outcome and works backward from a desired result. It is not true science. Those orchestrating the deception (“benders”) use a variety of tactics and strategies to shape, package and spin science to support their own hidden agenda and suppress opposing science.Benders attempt to hide, dismiss and debunk contrarian research and unsupportive science. Benders will attack and harass the science and scientists that pose a threat to their interests. Using carefully crafted studies designed to confirm a desired outcome, the pre-determined conclusions are subsequently promoted and publicized to the relevant stakeholders who are often unable ( or sometimes unwilling) to discern real science from junk-science.
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