Researchers Who Accept Regime Funding Should Disclose Their Conflict Of Interest

Researchers Who Accept Regime Funding Should Disclose Their Conflict Of Interest

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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  1. Paulus Rexus Legitimus

    Some nmbrs look a bit iffy there but it’s spot on otherwise.

  2. Jan Van Betsuni


  3. Hagfish Bagpipe

    So what is this Data for Progress and Fossil-Free Research what done dissed the oily boys? I see they have a website showing thirty diverse, Facebook grinning, full-time staff, and thirtynine “fellows”. They got some oily dough, where does it come from? At the bottom of one webpage we are informed that, ”Data for Progress is a project of Tides Advocacy, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.”

    Okay, so what is Tides Advocacy? Yes, it is associated with the Tides Foundation, the leftist NGO slush fund, but more immediately under the Tides Nexus group, ”a collection of center-left pass-through funders and fiscal sponsorship nonprofits grouped around the Tides Foundation”, according to Influence Watch website, explaining that, ”The Tides Advocacy has been described as an organization that “washes” away the paper trail between its grants and the original donor. Tides Founder Drummond Pike stated, “Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.”

    The pot is yet again calling the kettle black! But where the oil companies are at least up front about their oily little sponsorships the ridiculous hypocrite puppets at Data for Progress and Fossil-Free Research hide their funder, Daddy Warpig, behind multiple shell orgs and smugger about in public all snooty while doing the exact same thing in private they publicly condemn.

  4. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Wouldn’t it be funny if the secret funder behind the Data for Progress muppets was… Big Oil!

  5. awildgoose

    They don’t because there are zero consequences for these massive conflicts of interest and everyone knows it.

  6. kunio

    They only apply their logic to interests they don’t like, but don’t think further in that the conclusion is all researched is potentially biased by any research donor, unless there’s clauses in the agreement that states something like “Funder/Sponsor has no say in the written publication and will pay publication costs regardless of findings”. Putting everything on the scientists and not on the sponsor/funder.

    Them: This was sponsored by big-oil. BAD!!!!
    Also them: This was sponsored by big-green. GOOD!!!!

  7. Steve

    The National Science Foundation, an official agency of our ruling regime, gave away in 2021 $8,262 Billion with a Carl-Sagan-B

    Either your TI-35 was set to display European radix, or your enemies have been at it again.

  8. Incitadus

    Big oil is the biggest beneficiary of the climate-op. This is the longest
    running psy-op in modern history. The war on butter, eggs, and meat is but a distant
    second.. DIE is the new kid on the block, confusion, demoralization, and surrender
    the common thread. The less sense any of it makes the better.

  9. 1 – there is a variation of somebody’s( ? – senility setting in? ) law (that 5% of employs do 90% of the work) applicable here: more than 99% of breakthrough ideas come from people with less than 1% of the funding.

    2 – At one time the University of Alberta had one of the best geophysical faculties in the world. Now they’re sharing space with people who get funded to look at the effect of climate change on urban geography. What happened? the federal government’s war on oil/Alberta killed their funding.

    3 – the biggest issue driving public agencies to fund really stupid stuff is, I think, the process driving appointment to the funding agency committees – because this process favors people who make politically correct decisions but have no understanding of the research they fund. In some cases appointees (e.g. NIH funding in the US) have doctorates and other quals, but they’re 30+ years out of date in a field that changes daily and their only real skills now are those needed to get into, and stay in, positions of power.

    To really see this imagine what would happen in science and medicine if grants were allocated by juries made up of randomly chosen, genuinely anonymous, post docs – oddly, that was very much how the world’s most successful government funded research agency (DARPA) ran in the 60s and pre-Carter 70s.

  10. Forbes

    That govt-funded research is bias-free and influence-sterile is no different than the myth that the news media business is similarly bias- and influence-free. LOL.

    It might be worth noting the difference between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4). C-3 are tax-exempt charities who can only do minimal lobbying or issue advocacy. C-4 are non-profits who can engage in political advocacy, whose donations are not tax deductible.

    Data for Progress is a project of Tides Advocacy, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.

  11. Ann Cherry

    What a good column, Professor Briggs.

    Notice how we’re supposed to assume that these “Big Oil” donations, decried by The Guardian et al., come ONLY from U.S. companies that seek to expand U.S. energy.

    [Why “The Guardian” wants poor people to pay MORE for their heating oil, we won’t ask; The Guardian has its OWN donors to whom it must answer. Ah so. $Ka-Ching.]

    In truth, some Russian and Chinese and Venezuelan oil companies are probably donating to our universities, as well, and if so, probably joining the push to end U.S. oil production, in order to take out their biggest energy competitors.

    According to Newsweek (et al.) Russia’s oil companies are funding anti-fracking propaganda here in the U.S.:

    No doubt these same foreign companies (often represented by shell corporations) that donate tens of millions every year to the Sierra Club et al., are ALSO donating to to our universities for similar nefarious purposes.

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