Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, Dexter, and Lex Luther all have two things in common, they are all scientists and they are all evil. Wait, three things in common, they are all fictional.
What about the real scientists, are they evil?
I have evidence that suggests scientists may be evil. A compelling example are the nazi scientists who experimented on thousands of innocent people.
Are all scientists evil?
Well, I guess that depends on your perspective. One would argue that a scientist that develops vaccines for terrible diseases, such as polio, could never be considered evil. However, that same scientist that develops a measles vaccine, is secretly plotting with the government to either infect our children with autism or worse, implant secret coding material into our children so the government can better track us.
By no means do I mean to make light of children inflicted with autism, but scientists have conducted extensive research over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research is clear: There is not enough evidence to suggest that vaccinations cause autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a comprehensive list of this research. You can view and download the list here.
But, can we trust that research, right?
Well, of course we can trust the research, we can’t trust the messenger. Oh yes, that is the key. Let me explain. The scientific method has many checks and balances, as shown in the following picture.
There are a lot of steps and in the end, the science is peer reviewed and then peer reviewed again. Also, scientists don’t make statements such as, “Vaccines May Cause Autism.” That is a statement that more than overstates and sensationalizes a conclusion of scientific results. The following is an excerpt from the results section of a peer reviewed published research paper that addresses the link between autism and vaccinations (Feel free to click on the excerpt to read the published paper):
“We identified 316 children with a diagnosis of autistic disorder and 422 with a diagnosis of other autistic-spectrum disorders. After adjustment for potential confounders, the relative risk of autistic disorder in the group of vaccinated children, as compared with the unvaccinated group, was 0.92 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.24), and the relative risk of another autistic-spectrum disorder was 0.83 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.65 to 1.07).“
What are they talking about?
My point exactly!! The non-scientist is going to have a hard time understanding a hard core scientific research paper. Trust me, I’m a scientist and I read a lot of peer reviewed research, and I still have a hard time. So, I will help you out. Sure, you can loosely interpret the results as a slight link between autism and vaccinations. But scientists don’t write conclusions in such a manner, like the excerpt above scientists speak in probability, confidence intervals, percentages, and most of all “evidence.” In the conclusions, the author of this paper concluded that the study provided
But a sensationalized add could read, “Vaccinations, in Rare Instances, Could Cause Autism.”
Of course, when you are speaking in probability and confidence intervals, no scientist will conclude 100% accuracy. There is always inherent error in every study. This is only one extreme example of how scientific research could be misrepresented.
So, if it’s not the scientist who is overstating results, who is?
It’s our watered down, sensationalized media trying to win headlines regardless of whether it’s actually true.
What would a scientist have to gain by lying to the public or falsifying their results?
It is a matter of ethics and I know there are unethical people in every profession. I know special interest “money” steps in and convinces a researcher to be biased in their research.
Does one bad apple spoil the whole bunch?
No, it is a personal ethics issue for the researcher and not representative of an entire scientific community.
What would scientists have to gain by lying to the public?
Are all the world’s scientists secretly in cahoots about climate change? Are we sitting back in our dungeons with our potions, cackling to ourselves knowing its all a big joke on the world populations?
Trust me, the stereotypical geeky introverted scientist would never be able to organize such an elaborate hoax. I think we have all seen “The Big Bang Theory,” right? Also, most scientists are not making the kind of money that the CEO’s of bailed out Banks make. Take it from my personal experience, scientists bring home modest pay checks, especially environmental scientists, and do it because being a scientist is a noble profession.
Scientists are getting a bad wrap because the media, special interest, and big money are overstating or misrepresenting scientific results. Or in some cases, forgetting to the mention the scientific results that don’ benefit their interests. So, next time you read a big *sciency article that may seem a bit dramatic, do yourself a favor and find the original research that the author is paraphrasing or interpreting.
A great example has been spinning through social media recently in a similar form of, “Drinking Red Wine is the Same as an Hour of Exercise.” When I first read this headline, I was compelled to click and I would really like to believe that my very regular wine consumption is the same as going to the gym, but, I know it is not the same, and those authors sensationalized scientific results.
In conclusion, there is strong evidence to suggest that not all scientists are evil. However, the research is not completed, results are pending, and there are several outliers in the data.
Remember, think about what you are reading, read the original research, and then discuss intelligently with friends with a nice glass of wine.
*Sciency is an adjective that I invented meaning having scientific content.