, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 49-57

Guard dogs of perception: The corporate takeover of science

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Abstract

The belief that science is “a driver of growth in the knowledge economy” has led in recent decades to increasing encouragement by government of the involvement of industry and of commerce in the sponsorship and direction of research in universities, and to the increasing influence of industrial representatives on advisory panels associated with the publicly funded scientific research councils. By extending the doctrine of commercial confidentiality into university laboratories, inconvenient findings have been suppressed, and both free endeavour and free speech undermined. This has narrowed our scientific horizons and compromised government advisors.

It is argued that scientific freedom is a guarantor of our wider liberties. Science, which tells us who we are and how we can live better, is being distorted so twisting our understanding of the ways in which we might progress, shutting off alternatives to existing models of development. Business now stands as a guard dog at the gates of perception. Only the inquiries which suit its needs are allowed to pass.

More information on the same theme can be found in the author’s book Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. September 2000, Macmillan, London.
This paper was presented at the conference “Corruption of Scientific Integrity?—The Commercialisation of Academic Science”, The British Academy, 2 May 2001.