June 20, 2019

Background Checks for Scientists

Guest post by Jim Beers

(An article written recently for The Pen, the newsletter of Common Sense Coalition Talk Radio program out of California, Missouri.)

As the debate on requiring background checks for gun sales rages, I submit that background checks should be mandatory for scientists that sell their research to government bureaucracies.

A recent news article in The Washington Post (of all places) describes a former scientist at Johns Hopkins University that became embroiled in the controversy over growing scientific research retractions coinciding with the competition for available government grant dollars.

The tainted and slanted research that was going increasingly unquestioned, concerned cancer drugs and genetic relationships. The scientist found that questioning results based on incomplete testing and ignoring applicable factual references resulted in his being disciplined, his eventually being fired and the suicide of a colleague asked to verify the unverifiable science purported to be reliable.

The number of research articles retracted in the field of biomedical research has increased “tenfold since 1975”. Two thousand of these retracted scientific papers were reviewed and it was determined that “67% were attributable to misconduct, mainly fraud or suspected fraud”. While government grant availability has increased since the 1960’s, when 2 out of 3 requests were funded: today only one out of 5 requests are funded. Because jobs and funding for the researchers are really what is on the line today, shoddy and cheap “science” to give government grant administrators what they want is the only guarantor of future funding preferences.

If potentially human life-threatening aspects of cancer drugs relative to the genetics of those afflicted with cancer can be misrepresented, what is sacred anymore? Eventual lawsuits by wealthy families suspecting misuse of drugs or malpractice as the cause of losing a loved one might well punish these “scientists” publishing misleading and self-serving results. Yet these charlatans are evidently not deterred. If this is so, what about all the environmental/animal “rights” “science” purchased by government since “the 1960’s”?

When “science” tells us that logging “must” be stopped; or grazing is “bad”; or hunting “unbalances the environment”; or predators “balance” the environment; or “native” species “belong” everywhere; or dams “must” be removed; or roads “disturb” grizzly bears; or fatal attacks by predators are the “fault” of those killed; or lethal control of predators is “ineffective”; or pipelines “disturb” species X; or sage grouse are “in danger”; or bats are “disappearing”; or wildfires are “good”; or Sanctuaries and Wilderness are “beneficial”; or that only more federal jurisdiction over water or more federal land ownership or easement control of private property will do X, Y, and Z: other than pandering for more federal funding, what possible down side is there for unscrupulous ”scientists”?

When federally-protected grizzly bears kill hikers, no scientist or bureaucrat is responsible. Ditto when wolves decimate big game herds and force ranchers out of business and diminish the quality of rural life. Ditto when logging communities are decimated and unmanaged forests result in fewer and fewer of the critters supposedly saved by eliminating logging. Ditto when federal lands are closed to use and roads and access only to burn down and kill neighbors while their homes and belonging are destroyed. All the faulty environmental/animal “rights” “science” since “the 1960’s” has bred a national nightmare to rival the corruption of human life-saving biomedical research that has become less and less reliable.

Until and unless the federal-influence spigot to Universities and research organizations is turned way down or off, corruption is inevitable. The spigot won’t be turned off until the US Congress stops funding and writing laws that imagine laws and regulations that are triggered by or act only upon “science”. Think Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Animal Welfare Act, Wilderness Act, and other such laws that absolve all involved humans of any responsibility while pointing always to “science” as the reason and trigger for un-Constitutional and anti-human actions by a government of men supposedly bounded by a Constitution. This is an especially important matter for rural Americans today.

The federal laws will not be amended or repealed until we elect federal legislators that respect the Constitution and have our best interests at heart. Federal Legislators will not do the right thing until State Legislators and Governors stand their ground (think Wyoming and wolves as a role model here). State Legislators and Governors with our best interests at heart come from Local elected officials like Commissioners, Supervisors and Sheriffs. The time to get this food chain going is right now. I won’t repeat that old Chicago canard about “voting early and often” but I will say we have to vote and vote for this aspect of our lives and liberty. Letting bureaucrats and “scientists” rule us is akin to letting Druid priests read bones or Shamans stare into smoke as a basis for national decisions. As Dirty Harry once remarked about his boss’s breath mint “it ‘ain’t’ cutting it”

Jim Beers

13 March 2013
Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net