Why Should People Care about Scientific Integrity?
WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CARE ABOUT SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY
By Caroline Crocker, MSc, PhD
Just recently, I saw my first book published, Free to Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters, appropriately released on July 4 (http://www.freetothink.us). My hope it that this book will catalyze beneficial change in our nation. You may wonder why the fuss. Why would a person want to read a book with such a subtitle and why would a scientist write it? I can provide you with the answer by sharing some of my life experience. Some of you will know that I am one of the scientists featured in the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, but few know the whole story. Briefly, soon after receiving my PhD in immunopharmacology, I began teaching cell biology at George Mason University (GMU). But when I gave students information on scientific questions about the theory of evolution, I found myself banned from lecturing, my three year contract switched for a one year, and my job over. Amazingly, it did not end there! GMU found a way to deprive me of legal representation by offering the law firm that was representing me a more lucrative contract. The story continues from there. Free to Think is an enjoyable book with many humorous anecdotes of my students, but has a serious side contained in the shocking personal story of censorship and subterfuge. For those interested, there are lots of appendices with supporting documents; it has been recommended by Dr. Bill Dembski, Dr. Norman Geisler, and Ben Stein, among others. I believe that Free to Think has a very important message.
This message has come from my life experience. When I was working at Creighton University, it was common not to be allowed to publish data that was disadvantageous to the company funding our research. While at GMU and now in tutoring, I saw and see student cheating winked at—cheaters are often not even penalized. Of course, evidence continues to mount that those who teach or admit there is more than one side to many politically correct stories are penalized. Finally, I saw the most serious issue of all: science is being abused to promote a particular worldview—secular humanism. I put this all together and realized that there is a basic problem: a crisis in scientific integrity.
Let me give you a mental picture of a tree of science: the trunk is education, the branches are the applications of science education: teaching, medicine, and industry. The leaves are for the benefit of the public. It is a great tree that people depend on for their very lives. Now imagine that a fungus infects the tree. This starts at root, works way its way up the trunk and branches, eventually the leaves turn brown and die. This is what is happening in science—the infection is called a lack of scientific integrity.
That this is a fair assessment of what is occurring in science can readily be observed. Studies show that about 80% of top high school students and 70% of college students admit to cheating (Keiner and Lord, 1999; Zuckerman, 2006). Of equal concern is the fact that, unchecked, this cheating continues into medical and graduate school (Baldwin et al. 1996). There are also problems with integrity in pharmaceutics where in an analysis of 74 FDA-registered studies on a certain drug, 97% of those that the FDA judged had positive results were published. But, of those that the FDA found had negative results for the study medication, only 8% were published as negative (Turner et al. 2008). The resultant medical confusion and lack of public trust in the health professions then jeopardizes the health of our people (Null et al. 2003). The ostracism of educators and others who are honest about their questions about some subjects does nothing to reverse this trend. “NMNH officials have made clear their intent to prevent any scientist publicly skeptical of Darwinian theory from ever being appointed as a Research Associate, no matter how sterling his or her professional credentials or research.” (US House Subcommittee Report) A final blow is the misuse of science to promote a particular worldview. When inaccurate extrapolation from science is used to promote secular humanism, it is as if we are being force-fed the poisoned leaves.
And make no mistake; there are plenty of teachers and professors doing just that. In educational institutions all over America, students are taught that any design they see in nature is only apparent. Students who are public about their skepticism of this “fact” are ridiculed and even failed. Hear Dr. Larry Moran from the University of Toronto: “Flunk the IDiots…40% of the freshman class [at UCSD] reject Darwinism… the university has become alarmed…and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in [ID]…UCSD …should never have admitted them in the first place… just flunk the lot of them.” Further evidence that materialistic Darwinism has faith implications is shown in a statement by evolutionary biologist, Dr. Richard Lewontin, “[W]e have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” (Lewontin, 1997) And then consider Dr. Will Provine, who in the movie Expelled droned, “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. No gods worth having exist; No life after death exists; No ultimate foundation for ethics exists; No ultimate meaning in life exists; and human free will is nonexistent.”
Undergraduate students are required to take a lab science and this is usually general biology. It is of great concern that most do not have the science background to fill in the gaps in what they are taught. In college students encounter an all-out assault on their worldview and values that many are ill-prepared to withstand. It is vital that we develop critical awareness in our students about what they may be taught in school, promoting scientific integrity. Finally, we need to be sure that young people enrolled in medical, dental, or graduate school are appropriately mentored and supported.
Obviously, we need to correct the current problems with scientific integrity. We need the tree of science to be whole from trunk to leaves—not infected by the fungus of corruption—so that it can continue to benefit us all. This is one of the areas where American Institute for Technology and Science Education (AITSE) will work and is certainly what my book addresses. Free to Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters is my personal story, but the story has public application and the end result was good—an organization that promotes balanced education and integrity in science. AITSE promotes science based on evidence and accurate interpretation, not enforced adherence to a politically-correct or financially-beneficial consensus.
I invite you to check out my book (it is available at www.freetothink.us or through Amazon) and sign up for the AITSE monthly newsletter (www.aitse.org). These will help to vaccinate the tree against the lack of scientific integrity in our society. Science is a search for truth and if conducted, interpreted and taught with integrity, it will give truth that is beneficial instead of detrimental to our nation. Join with AITSE in making a difference!