Tag Archives: Bias

Could you patent the sun?

One of the biggest enemies facing critical thinking and scepticism is that of personal bias. Bias is extremely easy to spot in other people, but notoriously difficult to spot in yourself. No one likes to think that they may be biased but everyone is, in one way or another. Bias often appears in science denialism where someone may be religiously biased towards a Biblical interpretation of the fossil evidence (for example) rather than towards the scientific explanation. The best we can do about our biases is recognise them and be extra vigilant when we come across evidence that conforms to our biased pre-judgements. Because bias has such an affect on our interpretation of evidence, scientists especially should try to limit the influence of such outside factors on their impartial research. Yet we see precisely the opposite occurring. As research and industry snuggle into a cosy relationship, scientists have become enamoured with their commercial partners.

The commercialisation of research has exploded in the fields of biomedical science and biotechnology, with industry poised to make millions, scientists are all too happy to take a cut of the action. However, money is a powerful motivator and researchers now have an added incentive to find certain result. The result which favours whatever corporation provides the funding. If scientists are being influenced by their source of funding, then it should be apparent in their results. Industry funded projects should find positive results more often than non-profit funding. Indeed, taking the example of pharmaceutical research, that is what we find.

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