Franz Boas (1858-1942)
By TONY SEED
Originally published on December 20, 2014
1919 (20 December): Under the heading “Scientists as Spies,” The Nation, a liberal journal based in New York, published on this date a letter by Franz Boas, the father of academic anthropology in the United States. Boas was one of the most prominent opponents of the then popular pseudo-science of eugenics and “scientific racism”, the fascist concept that race is a biological concept and that human behaviour is best understood through the typology of biological characteristics and not social and cultural factors.
Boas publicly charged that four American anthropologists, whom he did not name, had abused their professional research positions by conducting espionage in Central America for the U.S. armed forces during the First World War – precisely when U.S. imperialism had aggressively occupied Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti and was conspiring against the Mexican Revolution. Boas strongly condemned their actions, writing that they had “prostituted science by using it as a cover for their activities as spies.” Continue reading
At a time when scientists and personnel in the fields of science and research are coming out with ever greater determination to stand against the politicization of science as part of the neo-liberal, anti national and anti social agenda of the Harper and Obama regimes, revelations are emerging that many basic cancer studies in the USA simply cannot be validated. In the life sciences, it seems that parallel forces, similar to those in theoretical physics and in mathematics, are at work, making it sterile and useless, and separating it from the needs of the people. And this is not at all accidental. Science, which at one time was useful to the rising European bourgeoisie, is now in a state of marasmus and disintegration. The scientific method has been buried and replaced with hocus-pocus. The imperialist system – unable to give the people anything but devastating wars – is holding back the development of the productive forces, and is a brake on progress, science and culture. “Billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole,” concludes MICHAEL HILTZIK* in the LA Times.
IN TODAY’S WORLD, brimful as it is with opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, you’d think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science.
You’d be wrong. Many billions of dollars’ worth of wrong.
A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen  set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology. Continue reading
Secret finances of a pro-monopoly science group
The American Council on Science and Health defends fracking, BPA, and pesticides. Guess who their funders are. Guess who its executive director is. (Hint: he’s a convicted felon.)
By Andy Kroll and Jeremy Schulman*
Mother Jones (Oct. 28) – THE American Council on Science and Health bills itself as an independent research and advocacy organization devoted to debunking “junk science.” It’s a controversial outfit—a “group of scientists…concerned that many important public policies related to health and the environment did not have a sound scientific basis,” it says—that often does battle with environmentalists and consumer safety advocates, wading into public health debates to defend fracking, to fight New York City’s attempt to ban big sugary sodas, and to dismiss concerns about the potential harms of the chemical bisphenol-A (better known at BPA) and the pesticide atrazine. The group insists that its conclusions are driven purely by science. It acknowledges that it receives some financial support from corporations and industry groups, but ACSH, which reportedly stopped disclosing its corporate donors two decades ago, maintains that these contributions don’t influence its work and agenda. Continue reading
Beware the facile use of climate change explanations
By DOUGAL MACDONALD*
A FEBRUARY 20 REPORT in the Vancouver Sun, reprinted by other monopoly media, states that well-known British Columbia marine scientist, Villy Christensen, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held this year in Vancouver February 16-20, that there is a need to do “more research on predicting the impact of climate change on oceans to better manage fisheries and stocks.” The impression left by the article is highly misleading; Christensen is actually engaged in a major research project, the Nereus Project, which is investigating the effect of three factors on ocean fish stocks: climate change, human activity, and food web dynamics (fish eating fish). Continue reading