“There’s an assumption that private funding must always be acknowledged because it’s dirty, while public funding never needs to be acknowledged, because it’s pure.”
Michael Duffy from ABC Radio National Counterpoint made that comment yesterday when he interviewed me about the Murray Mouth barrages.
Biologist Walter Starck  replied today with the following comment:
“A telling point to consider in relation to government sponsored research is that when generous funding is made available to study a purported problem, one outcome is certain. It will never be discovered that there really isn’t one.
“The implicit assumption that government funded research is unbiased is nonsense.
“On the contrary, it virtually guarantees the manufacture of problems to be studied in that researchers have learned that suggesting a link to a possible problem greatly improves the probability of funding approval. This has become so dominant in the environmental sciences that basic research has almost ceased to exist and nearly all effort is now directed at investigating purported problems. Worse yet, the dominance of problem-oriented research has created an environment wherein the normal scientific process of rigorous critical examination of claims has been suppressed in environmental matters. Now even the most poorly founded, and often even absurd claims, regularly pass peer review and are published in leading journal. Then, if challenged by anyone, the critic is denigrated while the substance of the criticism is ignored.
“Hand in hand with the abandonment of critical examination has been a parallel rise in appeal to proclaimed authority. The less we really know about things the more experts they seem to generate.
“Marine ecosystems and climate are two prime examples. Both are massively complex interactive systems about which both our empirical data and theoretical understanding is very sketchy and uncertain. Nevertheless, and despite the lack of both evidence and understanding, there is no shortage of ‘experts’. Although few of them have ever contributed anything of significance to basic new understanding in their field, they often occupy important sounding positions and can point to numerous peer reviewed publications, however trivial, dubious and unchallenged the claims may be.
“If all this were just a pissing contest between self-important academics it would only be amusing; but, unfortunately it is much more serious. With a majority of the electorate now comprised of urban non-producers, misguided misanthropic environmentalism is having a major impact on the production of food, energy and raw materials which are the very foundation of our entire society.
“This is manifesting as increasing debt, unemployment and inflation right across Western societies. The ability of the productive sector to continue to feed, clothe, house, power and otherwise sustain an ever growing majority of non-producers while being increasingly taxed and restricted themselves is nearing a tipping point.”
1. Listen to the ABC Radio National interview with Michael Duffy here
2. More about Walter Starck