Shocking report in science money news came out last week. Seems “Six fossil fuel companies funneled more than $700m in research funding to 27 universities in the US from 2010 to 2020, according to a new study.”
I cracked open a fresh pack of batteries, slid one into my vintage TI-35, and discovered $700 million over ten years at 27 universities is $70 million a year. Over 27 universities, this is about $2.6 million per year per university.
This funds one quarter—twenty five percent—of Ohio State’s annual DIE efforts. Yes, sir. They have over 100 DIE zampolit, who collectively Hoover up $10,097,051 each year. You’d guess Ohio State would have about DIEd fully by now, drowning in that kind of money. Yet they linger on.
I don’t know whether Ohio was the beneficiary of any oil money, and if they were, I’m not sure how much went to DIE. So maybe this little digression means nothing.
Or maybe it means something after all. Because, says our source, money at that level “can shift not just research agendas, but also policy in the direction…the industry [donating the money] prefers”.
Let’s repeat that. Money at the level of a few million a year can shift research agendas, and can also push policies in the direction donator’s desire. (Which is presumably why universities spend so much to DIE.)
Amazing, ain’t it?
The National Science Foundation, an official agency of our ruling regime, gave away in 2021 $8,262 Billion with a Carl-Sagan-B to various universities and “non-profits.” For them to conduct “research”.
That makes about $82 billion over a ten year period. Which is over 100 times more than the oil companies gave.
If we follow the logic of the Experts at Data for Progress and Fossil-Free Research, who wrote the report and who thought they were doing something worthy by tattling on oil companies, the regime has at least 100 times the power to shift research agendas and push favored policies.
Do you know what this means? Wait! Don’t answer yet, because we haven’t considered the Big Dog of regime research funding. The National Institutes of Health.
The NIH says it “invests”—you have to love that euphemism for spends—“most of its $45 billion budget in medical research for the American people.” Later they peg this “most” at about 85%. All right, rounding down, that’s $38 Billion a year.
Add that to the NSF’s largess, and we come to something like $46 billion, plus or minus.
And we’d have to add to that the amount the Department of Perpetual Wars (DOD), and every other Department and agency (the Department of Education shuffles out about $7 billion a year). There are some sources for guessing how much is spent just on “basic research”, but, of course, there is more than just basic research.
The total figure, to pick a number surely on the low side, and so not taking it too seriously, is in the neighborhood of $50 Billion. Yearly.
That means the regime is outspending its oil company rivals by at least 700 times. Every year. And that means, as the Experts at (again) Data for Progress and Fossil-Free Research say, the regime’s power to shape research and drive policy dwarfs whatever political power the oil companies can muster.
You wonder why the oil companies bother. This isn’t David versus Goliath, this is an ant versus Leviathan.
The news report said:
The report includes a poll indicating that a majority (67%) of both college-educated and non-college-educated voters agree with the statement: “Colleges and universities studying the impacts of climate change and sustainability should refuse donations from fossil fuel companies so they can remain unbiased in their research.”
The implication is that taking money from interested sources biases research. They say so, and surely it is true.
Which means there is no bigger bias in research than regime interests. Their influence is powerful, indeed overwhelming.
We should, as the Experts at Data for Progress and Fossil-Free Research imply, suspect every bit of research coming out of universities supported by the regime. It is tainted at the least, and biased at the worst.
Authors of papers with research funded by the regime should, and must, fill out conflict of interest forms, declaring their political and ideological biases. They should answer pointed questions, such as Are their attitudes in accord with regime goals?
And say, do you think these researchers would have received funds from the regime for research in areas unapproved by the regime, or that stands to overturn cherished regime beliefs? Not hardly.
As the reports authors say, “There needs to be full disclosure”.
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