Evidence-based practice and the eradication of science

I have an interest in evidence-based practice.

When scientific data and research are under threat, each of us as a citizen is under threat.

In an earlier post, I’ve discussed the role of fraud in relation to scientific credentials. At the latter post, I’ve shared the following information:

Fake academic credentials

In general, claims of factuality in any realm require verification – as in due diligence regarding claims of academic credentials – as a Sept. 18, 2013 CBC article entitled “Louis LaPierre resigns from federal board amid PhD turmoil” illustrates.

The latter story is highlighted in a Sept. 20, 2013 CBC episode on The Current. A CBC post notes:

  • For decades, a prominent New Brunswick academic, was the “go to” scientist hired by governments to review some of this country’s biggest and often controversial environmental issues:
  • Fracking in New Brunswick, low-level flying in Labrador, The Sydney Tar Ponds, The bridge to PEI and recently an open pit copper mine in Northern Ontario.
  • The problem is, the go-to scientist — is technically not a scientist. Louis LaPierre claimed to have a PHD in ecology. But a CBC New Brunswick investigation revealed his PHD is in education.

The fake scientist has maintained a decades-long fraudulent claim of scientific expertise. The above-noted CBC report – an in-depth exploration of the faking of academic credentials – was broadcast on Sept. 20, 2013.

Update: An Oct. 1, 2013 CBC article is entitled: “Louis LaPierre’s research record in question.” The subhead reads: “Scarce evidence online of peer-reviewed papers by Moncton professor called ‘very unusual.'” [End of update]

A Sept. 16, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Scientists push campaign for evidence-based decision making from government.”

A Sept. 22, 2013 New York Times article is concerned with a crackdown on fake online reviews.

On a positive note the corollary to the discussion, as a Sept. 12, 2013 Globe and Mail article notes, is that “Enthusiasm is huge and it can take you far as long as it’s genuine.”

The article notes: “as long as it’s genuine.”

Updates: An Oct. 4, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Canadian income data ‘is garbage’ without census, experts say.” An Oct. 11, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “David Suzuki slams Harper science policy in Washington speech.” An Oct. 13, 2013 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Harper’s war on science continues with a vengeance.” A related study by Chris Turner is entitled: “The war on science muzzled scientists and wilful blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada.” [End of updates]

Recent updates related to the eradication of science

Recent CBC news stories are of interest with regard to the current threat to evidence-based practice in Canada.

A Jan. 10, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Research cutbacks by government alarm scientists – Federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists in past 5 years.”

The opening paragraphs read:

  • Scientists across the country are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information.
  • “What’s important is the scale of the assault on knowledge, and on our ability to know about ourselves and to advance our understanding of our world,” said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
  • In the past five years the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and hundreds of programs and world-renowned research facilities have lost their funding. Programs that monitored things such as smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change have been drastically cut or shut down.
  • This week, scientists went public with concerns that irreplaceable science could be lost when Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) libraries are closed. DFO plans to shut down seven of its 11 libraries by 2015. Already, stories have emerged about books and reports thrown into dumpsters and the general public being allowed to rummage through bookshelves.

[End of excerpt]

A Jan. 10, 2014 CBC blog post is entitled: “Readers irked by feds’ research cutbacks.”

Some excerpts from the post:

In particular, readers expressed worry over the impact of the research cuts on the country, both in the present and in the future.

“The government can say what it wants. The muzzling of scientists, closure of numerous important facilities, and destruction of many documents tells me that our rulers don’t give science the priority it needs. Environmental interest can conflict with short-term economic interests, but coincide with long-term ones. Our grandchildren are in trouble,” wrote John Sollows.

“This government wants to turn the centuries back. Stunningly medieval head-in-the-sand ideology. Next we’ll be having inquisitions and burnings for the non-believers. Science eradication is fully underway,” wrote whirligig.

“2000 scientists over 5 years! It is frightening what the Harper gov’t has and is doing. What kind of environment will there be for future generations? A toxic land,” wrote ChantalLeBouthi.

“It’s really frightening to see a government with such incredibly short-term thinking. Cutting the funding to science might be economically expedient right now, but the future damage to society is depressing,” wrote Antocalypse.

“The government thinks knowledge is expensive? Wait until we find out how expensive ignorance is…,” wrote KindaRectangulr.

[End of excerpts]

Additional updates

It’s a great idea to know whether some widely used quotation is actually based on evidence that the person quoted actually said what they’re quoted as saying. A Jan. 11, 2013 CBC article on this topic is entitled: “10 popular quotes, and who really said them: Many well-known turns of phrase were never said by the people to whom they are attributed.”

I was interested to learn that Yogi Berra really did say: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

An Aug. 25, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Mini Podcast: Alternative Medicine Research: Just Say No?.”

An Aug. 28, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Canadians’ science literacy ranks 1st among 35 countries: Report on Canada’s science culture finds strong science interest, but areas to improve.”

A Feb. 2, 2015 Toronto Star article is entitled: “Different tack needed for climate change skeptics, study says.”

A Feb. 10, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Opinion vs facts: why do celebrities so often get it wrong? Celebrities often make wildly inaccurate claims and comments to millions of people. But the workings of our minds mean we’re all prone to such behaviour.”

A Feb. 22, 2016 New York Tims article is entitled: “For Mark Willenbring, Substance Abuse Treatment Begins With Research.”


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