Why All Publicised “Breakthroughs” Are Lies

By now you must have heard, read about or seen some media reports about scores of “breakthroughs” which will supposedly cure cancer, diabetes, aging etc and make nuclear fusion , cheap space travel or make some other desirable thing feasible.

So why do research groups touting these “breakthroughs” ALWAYS fail to deliver on their promises? and why do other groups keep on trying to pull the same scams?

Many scientists like to blame scientific illiteracy of media for exaggerations, however they are far from innocent. I would go so far as to suggest that scientists are the principal instigators of such frauds. But why do they do it?

The answer lies in the nature of publicly funded research in the west. Post-ww2, but especially after the 1970s, scientific research increasingly became dependent on fickle public and private money. In previous eras, scientists often had modest but very stable budgets. They had no reason to tout some half-baked crap as innovation, and such scams were generally frowned upon. However, a combination of the economic woes of the 1970s plus the tendency of governments to dictate and micromanage research based on popular demands led to certain unfortunate developments.

1. Funding for specific research areas became dependent on quality of their PR. The science behind and feasibility of any direction of scientific inquiry became far less important than who could scam, cajole and intimidate the public into giving them money.

2. It led to the centralization of research with bigger groups, more money for ivy-league and centers-of-excellence type scams. The result was- mediocrity and lack of innovation as these ‘connected’ cocksuckers did not want to perform risky research. Those willing to do risky and innovative stuff were weeded out.

3. Research funding became so politicized that any person who was not part of the current ‘in’ crowd could not get any research money. In earlier eras, such people might have been ignored or scorned but seldom had to leave their field. Of course, newer ‘in’ crowds continually displace older ‘in’ crowds who then bitch about fairness and decency.

4. All of the above has led to the almost total end of basic innovation years ago. However these conmen depend on public money to fund their ponzi schemes. Therefore they have to keep on lying and pretending that they are making new discoveries that will change the world.

This is analogous to paying legit-looking scammers who guarantee a complete recovery for your brain-dead relative within a few months, if you pay them more money. The person never recovers, but every few months they peddle new false hope to scam more money out of you, and spin lies to gloss over their previous scams. The problem with this approach is, at some stage, the scam victims realize that they are being looted. Once this realization sets in, each attempt to scam money results in ever decreasing rewards.

The most severe damage is however to the reputation of science. Every day fewer and fewer people believe in the ability of science to be truthful or achieve anything useful, and the growing crowd of unbelievers cannot be faulted for being cynical.

I should also say something about the effect of non-scientific considerations on research findings. The war on drugs created a flurry of research demonstrating the very deleterious effects of ‘evil drugs’ on the brain, environmentalism has created a lot of research that proves everything that certain people want to believe in. Scientific literature on the adverse effects of dietary fat on various physiological parameters, or research touting the efficacy of newer (and more expensive) drugs are other common examples of the influence of such considerations.

Today scientists are ethically closer to pimps, priests and snake-oil salesmen. Then again.. pimps, priests and snake-oil salesmen do not misrepresent themselves to the extent scientists do.

Comments?

  1. Rick
    February 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    The only “breakthrough” cancer research I’ve heard of is the “cancer virus” theory and the “Royal Rife” machine.

    There is a lot of fringe science, such as Rupert Sheldrake and Dean Radin’s psi research. There are also fringe researchers who get hounded and persecuted, like Gauquelin, Fleischmann, Pons.

    If you keep noticing pimps polluting science, change your media inputs. Read more peer-reviewed journals and fewer press releases. Yes, it’s obnoxious that the Americans always make a lot of noise and pretend that they’re oh-so-clever, but there are other projects out there, like Linux and Arduino and so on.

    There are two paths, and I can only choose one>
    1 – Spend my time pointing out that science touts are marketing hucksters.
    2 – Spend my time learning the fundamentals of how to use actual working technologies, such as solar panels, that suit my needs.

    I choose 2 at the moment. You can choose whatever suits your needs at the moment.

    • A Equals A
      February 8, 2011 at 9:47 am

      “Read more peer-reviewed journals and fewer press releases.”

      The problem is, alot of these press releases link to peer-reviewed journals (its where they get their information from).

  2. John Rambo
    February 7, 2011 at 5:13 am

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN
    Why American men should boycott American women

    http://boycottamericanwomen.blogspot.com/

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    • Michel
      June 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      I love this guy lol

    • voltronblack
      June 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      this guy is like ninja always showing up where you least suspect him to.

      • Matt
        June 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm

        Like God Damn Rambo.

        Well played good sir.

  3. MikkoAP
    February 7, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Fundamental physics seems to be another victim of this phenomenon.

    Not that i can claim to really understand it, but string theory seems to be on its way out after more than two decades of being presented to us laymen as the ultimate theory of everything.

    Lee Smolin’s book The Trouble With Physics, and Peter Woit’s book Not Even Wrong are interesting reads.

    Woit’s blog http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/ is also good, though i don’t understand most of it. I just read it for the bits where he skewers overhyped reports and groundless speculation in the MSM about physics.

  4. P.T. Barnum
    February 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    NLP guy said:

    There are two paths, and I can only choose one>
    1 – Spend my time pointing out that science touts are marketing hucksters.
    2 – Spend my time learning the fundamentals of how to use actual working technologies, such as solar panels, that suit my needs.

    As we can see, a lot of American’s have studied NLP.

  5. Rick
    February 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    P.T. Barnum :
    NLP guy said:

    There are two paths, and I can only choose one>
    1 – Spend my time pointing out that science touts are marketing hucksters.
    2 – Spend my time learning the fundamentals of how to use actual working technologies, such as solar panels, that suit my needs.

    As we can see, a lot of American’s have studied NLP.

    Who decided that I’m an “American’s”?

    I apologize if I sound like a salesman, narrowing things down to two simple choices and pushing the listener to decide. Maybe Advocatus can come up with additional alternatives.

    If there’s some other NLP overtone to my comment, it was unintentional.

  6. VI
    June 3, 2011 at 4:37 am

    The scientific establishment deserves to be crushed under the weight of its own pyramid. Most PIs don’t really give a shit about their students or post-docs, and have no clue how much harm they’re doing by pushing young kids to go into science.

    I recently attended a colloquium by a prominent researcher in my field. He detailed the large collaboration he heads, and how it extends down to many post-docs, grad students, and a large number of high school students in scientific outreach programs. Anyone with a modicum of real world experience would have recognized this as a pyramid scheme immediately. But this room full of sycophants just sucked his dick and told him how wonderful his collaboration was. The world would be a better place if he was dead.

    • Nestorius
      June 3, 2011 at 6:56 am

      This sounds like:
      professors = lords
      post-docs = vassals
      grads = vassals of vassals
      students = serfs

  7. Bootleg
    August 23, 2011 at 1:23 am

    So the prejudices of the surrounding milieu influence the outcomes of actual research – forget objectivity, scientists are finding whatever they set out to find.

    The apogee of empiricism has passed, the idea of ‘objective research’ is disclaimed, especially outside of the hard sciences.

  8. April 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Money corrupts, even things we like to think are incorruptible like science, religion and government.

  1. February 13, 2011 at 3:12 am
  2. July 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

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