« Muslim apostates face persecution... | Gene Expression Front Page | The Flynn Debate »
February 16, 2005

Self-censorship in the sciences

NPR recently ran an excellent little clip about scientists and researchers conducting self-censorship of studies that various groups and individuals may deem to be controversial, which the clip describes as "forbidden knowledge"; that is, knowledge that may have potentially negative effects upon society or which may contradict various moral codes and doctrines. The survey, while small (only 41 participants who described their own experiences and the experiences of others), showed that:

- "nearly half felt they had to censor what they studied or published out of fear of outside opinion" which included "government or university officials, or journal publishers."
- "over 40% said the biggest influence came from outside official channels, from activists, for example"

Of course, this is nothing new to regular readers... just on issues concerning evolution, this site constantly fights for the truth against creationist IDiots on the right and anti-hereditarian activists on the left (who have calmed down a lot since the 1960s and 70s, when the Students for a Democratic Society and Progressive Labor Party worked to have individuals such as Jensen fired, and on some occasions conducted violence against them, as in the case of Hans Eysenck). Thankfully, silly pseudo-Marxist publications like Science for the People are now defunct. But as evidenced by the recent attacks against Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Larry Summers, and a slew of other cases, this problem has not gone away and, if anything, has actually resulted in things getting worse.

Self-censorship is far worse than a few protests here and there. Not only does it abrogate scientist's academic and Constitutional rights, but, worst of all, it results in the suppression of research that is important to understanding ourselves and our environment.

Unfortunately, I do not think that most people are aware of the amount of self-censorship that takes place.

Posted by Arcane at 08:22 PM