Science vs. Business

Science and business have a long and rocky relationship. Business doesn't like it when Science figures things out that are bad for business. RJ Reynolds hid/denied/downplayed the connection between smoking and lung cancer/heart disease for decades (and still does). In fact, the last few years were the first time in a long time that lung cancer wasn't the #1 cancer for men. The NFL has known about the connection between playing professional football and traumatic brain injury for over 20 years. Blustering, denial, buying doctors to give opinions that countered the overwhelming scientific evidence are common tactics. Sometimes science shows that products, rather than hurting you, don't really help at all. Patent medicines were one of the first users of advertising, until the FDA came along. Unfortunately, many patent medicines also contained various poisons.

Now, the tension between the oil and gas industry and global warming is real and the stakes are high. If we could trace the money back from professionally paid climate deniers, I think we would likely find it coming from businesses that want to avoid this inconvenient truth (and shut down alternative energy producers). I think that most people who deny climate change have honestly been taken in by well placed misinformation - but I also think that the misinformation ultimately originated in the oil and gas industry. Consider this Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, speaking clear climate-denial language. Consider also his audience: the oil and gas industry.

The March for Science wasn't really a march to help science. Science will continue to cause the world to function the way it has to whether we march or not. The speed of light will still be a constant in a vaccum. E still equals mc squared. The march for science was a march to tell people how important it is to accept the validity of scientifically arrived at conclusions, wherever they may lead. Even if we don't like where the results lead (and sometimes business doesn't).

Sheila Kennedy also has a blog post on the March for Science, reaching related but more articulate conclusions.