Search for your Congressional Member’s Report Card

Doubting Science Why?

Perspective

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

pile of books, feather and ink

Industry funded scientists challenged scientific evidence on a host of contemporary issues…

In the classical book by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M.Conway, “Merchants of Doubt” they meticulously document how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming and how the same tactics and narrative continues today.

Over a period of 2 decades industry funded scientists all physicists by training namely Frederick Seitz, Siegfried Fred Singer, Robert Jastrow, Edward Teller and William Nierenberg associated with think tanks and private corporations challenged scientific evidence on a host of contemporary issues. They used their scientific credentials to present themselves as authorities to try and discredit any scientific findings they did not like.

They claimed the link between smoking and cancer remained unproven. They charged that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had rigged the science surrounding secondhand smoke. They argued that Acid Rain and the Ozone Hole was caused by volcanoes. Most recently against mounting evidence they dismiss the reality of global warming.

The press quoted these men as experts and politicians listened to them, using their claims for inaction.The fact is that these men were never really experts on the diverse issues confronting our current reality. They were physicists, not epidemiologists, ecologists, atmospheric chemists or climate modelers. Modern science is far too specialized for anyone individual having an expertise in all these areas. 

Given this history the responsibility falls on us the citizens of America to stop these repetitive attacks on our scientific community by confronting the perpetrators and insisting that evidence based data provided by scientists be used for our public polices.

ENGAGE TO CHANGE " OUR STATUS QUO "

Illustration of puzzle pieces forming a light bulb, which connects people

Trust the academic scientific experts on matters of science especially the specialists…

  1. Trust the academic scientific experts on matters of science especially the specialists in their designated fields of study and demand that they be used as the sources of information for forming our public polices and not the think tank pundits appointed by corporations.
  2. Pay attention to who the experts actually are by asking questions about their credentials, their past and current research, are they peer reviewed and what are their sources of financial support. A climate scientist is no more qualified to comment on health care reform than a physicist is to judge the cause of bee colony collapse.
  3. Challenge the political appointees leading our agencies such as EPA , who have limited or no scientific credentials and significant conflicts of interest, including direct ties to the industries that agencies are supposed to regulate.

BENCHMARKING & BEST PRACTICES

Interesting Challenges to U.S. Scientific Leadership…

American scientists and innovators have led the way in taking discoveries from the lab to the market and improving quality of life. Much of this success is due to the unique partnership between the federal government, universities, and private industry.

However, America’s competitive edge is now at stake, as China and other countries are rapidly increasing investments in research and workforce development in order to assume positions of global leadership.

Our nation risks falling perilously behind in the basic scientific research that drives innovation, as our global competitors increase support for cutting-edge research and push to the forefront in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and the next generation of telecommunications networks.

MATH & SCIENCE BENCHMARKS

Students in the U.S. fall behind those in China, Europe, and Canada in math and science…

A global comparison of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores from 2015 shows the average score for the U.S. was lower than that of many other countries for both math and science.

The overall U.S. scores were well below those of top performers like Singapore, Japan, and China.

(Click Image to Expand Size)

HIGH TECH SECTOR'S BENCHMARKS

U.S. has surrendered its commanding lead in the world’s top supercomputers…

On the Top 500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, the U.S. in 2005 controlled almost half the world’s top supercomputers; it now controls less than a quarter.

China now controlling the largest number of the fastest supercomputers.

(Click Image to Expand Size)

Trojan Horses

4 KEY OPERATIVES MANIPULATE SCIENTIFIC FACTS

Front Groups, Think Tanks, Public Relations (PR) Firms & Lobbyists..

A recent paper by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Orekes reveals the misleading information provided by ExxonMobile on Climate Change.

“Available documents show a discrepancy between what ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change privately and in academic circles and what it presented to the general public. The company’s peer-reviewed, non-peer-reviewed, and internal communications consistently tracked evolv-ing climate science: broadly acknowledging that AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable, while identifying reasonable uncertainties that most climate scientists readily acknowledged at that time.

In contrast, ExxonMobil’s advertorials in the NYT overwhelmingly emphasized only the uncertainties, promoting a narrative inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists, including ExxonMobil’s own.  

Likewise, the company’s peer-reviewed, non-peer-reviewed, and internal documents acknowledge the risks of stranded assets, whereas their advertorials do not. In light of these findings, we judge that ExxonMobil’s AGW communications were misleading.”

FRONT GROUPS DOUBTING SCIENCE

Top 5 Front Groups & Funding Sources…

1. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is funded by food processing and beverage corporations like Burger King, Coca-Cola, as well as chemical, oil and pharmaceutical companies such as Monsanto-Bayer, Exon and others. The ACSH is one of many corporate front groups which allows industry-funded experts to pose as independent scientists to promote corporate causes.

2. Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), opposes science-based climate policies. It is one of the most powerful corporate lobbying organizations in California, whose members include global oil giants, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and Occidental.

3.Wise Use Movement is supported by most anti-environmentalist groups, by companies in the resource extraction industry, timber, chemical and land development companies. They portray environmentalists as the enemy of the people.

4. The Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) is a fossil fuel advocacy organization. The group opposes environmental activism and the pursuit of “green,” or sustainable energy development, saying the pursuit of solar and wind power “will end the America we know and love.”

5. The Non-Smoker Protection Committee is a front group partly-funded by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) that backed an initiative called the “Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act”, that would have allowed smoking in all bars and some restaurants statewide, overturn smoking bans and restrict and prohibit cities from adopting strict smoking bans in the future.

THINK TANKS DOUBTING SCIENCE

Logos of anti-science front groups

Top 5 Think Tanks & Funding Sources…

1. The Heritage Foundation has labelled the environmental movement as “the greatest single threat to the American economy”.  The Foundations’s members and funding groups include, defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, finance and insurance companies such as Allstate Insurance, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, and American International Group (AIG), auto company Honda, tobacco company Altria Group (Philip Morris), drug and medical companies Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, oil companies ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil, software giant Microsoft, and Alticor (Amway), Pfizer, PhRMA, and United Parcel Service (UPS).

2. The Heartland Institute became a leading promoter of climate change denial. Our American market, far from being free or operating efficiently to allocate resources in the interests of society, is dominated by a small group of large multinational corporations which aim to maximize their private profit by exploiting nature and human resources.

3.Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), financed by private contributions based in Arlington, Virginia in the United States. It was founded in 1990 by atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer. SEPP disputes the prevailing scientific views of climate change and ozone depletion.

4. Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) , emphasizes reliance on market mechanisms and private property rights, rather than on environmental regulation, for protection of the environment.

5. Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), is a Washington, D.C.-based 501 nonprofit organization founded in 1985 that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues.

PR FIRMS DOUBTING SCIENCE

Top 5 PR Firms & Funding Sources…

1. Edelmanis the largest independently owned PR company, with 46 offices and 50 affiliates around the world. PR firms like Edelman “have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

2.Weber Shandwick Worldwide (WSW) the world’s largest public relations company. It is a privately held firm.WSW has been heavily criticized for its work for the Japanese Whaling Association and its work for the New Zealand government-owned logging company Timberlands. WSW owns Planet 2050, a PR firm marketed as “socially responsible”, which claims to help businesses “navigate the environmental and social challenges needed to operate in a planet under pressure.”

3. Fleishman-Hillard is a public relations company with a global network of offices as well as offices in 22 cities in the United States. It is owned by Omnicom. In the US it has “managed crises for the oil, railroad, airline, meat, poultry, produce and high-tech communications industries. Currently is on retainer for the Partnership for Food Safety Education.

4. Ketchum is a large public relations agency employing over 1100 people across 21 offices and with 35 affiliates around the world. Ketchum has worked for the following federal agencies, Education Department, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health and Human Services, to “change the face of Medicare.” 

5.Porter Novelli International is a PR and lobbying firm. It is part of the Omnicom Group of advertising and marketing companies. Porter Novelli’s U.S. expertise as including “product recalls, tampering, environmental and natural disasters, regulatory and legislative issues, labor and factory incidents.

LOBBYING FIRMS DOUBTING SCIENCE

Top 5 Lobbying Firms & Funding Sources…

Some of the prominent industry names include Exxon Mobil, BP, Ford and BASF, along with environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund. The involved companies and groups have significant influence in Washington, spending a combined $55.8 million on lobbying last year.

1. The Nature Conservancy is considered a Big Green environmental group, one of the largest and most prominent in the world. It is a member of Natural Resources Council of America. It “sits on nearly a billion dollars in assets and is awash in cash, thanks to a tidal wave of corporate donations, much of it from notorious polluters such as Arco.

2. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions  describes itself as an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to advance strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change.However, the strategic partners and major contributors listed on its website include many large utility and power companies, like General Electric, Entergy, Shell, Alcoa, and Duke Energy. At its formation in 2011, Think Progress referred to it as an “explicitly corporate-managed organization.

3. Exxon Mobil is the world’s largest oil company. It is involved in oil and gas exploration, production, supply, transportation, and marketing around the world.The Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause filed a formal complaint with the IRS presenting extensive evidence alleging that ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were running an illegal scheme to promote the oil giant’s climate denial policies and legislative agenda in violation of U.S. tax law governing charitable organizations.

4. BASF SE is the world’s largest chemical company and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Its North American subsidiary is BASF Corporation. It is one of the “Big 6” Biotech Corporations, along with Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, Syngenta, and Monsanto. BASF spends a lot of money  on federal lobbying. Top  issues lobbied being tariffs, manufacturing, consumer product safety, chemical industry, and energy and nuclear power.

5. Ford Motor Company, commonly referred to as Ford, is one of the world’s largest car and truck manufacturers. Brands include Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. Ford owns a 33% controlling stake in Mazda and also controls the Land Rover, Jaguar, and Volvo brands. Ford family members own about 40% of the company’s voting stock.While Ford has sought to re-position itself as a ‘green’ manufacturer, it remains an opponent of mandatory fuel efficiency standards. On its website Ford states that “market based initiatives, not mandated increases, are the best method of improving fuel economy.

Global Rankings - R&D

EDUCATION AND R&D - GLOBAL RANKINGS OF U.S.

2020 National Science Board Science & Engineering Indicators Report…

2020 National Science Board Science & Engineering Indicators Report provides information on the state of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise over time and within a global context. Indicators is a factual and policy-neutral source of high-quality U.S. and international data.

America’s competitive edge is now at stake, as China and other countries are rapidly increasing investments in research and workforce development in order to assume positions of global leadership.

Our nation risks falling perilously behind in the basic scientific research that drives innovation, as our global competitors increase support for cutting-edge research and push to the forefront in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and the next generation of telecommunications networks.

Our competitors’ increasing basic research investments and production of new advanced technologies poses an escalating challenge to U.S. scientific leadership. Not only are European countries and China upping their game in industries like nanotechnology and supercomputing, they are also attracting the best and brightest students and scholars to close the technological and innovation gap.

MATHEMATICS & SCIENCE SCORES - U.S. RANKING

U.S. eighth graders rank in the middle of advanced economies…

U.S. eighth graders rank in the middle of advanced economies in international mathematics and science assessments, and U.S. national assessments of mathematics show little to no growth in scores over the past decade (Figure 1).

(Click Image to Expand Size)

R & D EXPENDITURES - U.S. RANKING

U.S. Share of Global R&D has declined…

Industrial R&D is generally more geared toward applied research and development, which tends to be shorter-term, more incremental, and results in private benefits. In contrast, public sector R&D is oriented around basic research – fundamental knowledge that underlies innovation – which tends to be higher risk, longer-term, and has much broader and far-reaching societal benefits.

The U.S. Share of Global R&D has Declined. In 1995, the United States accounted for 38.3 percent of global R&D. As of 2016, the U.S. share had declined to 28.5 percent (see GRAPH 1.1).

This decline is partly due to increasing investments from smaller nations such as Spain, Ireland, Israel, and Norway. But the biggest drivers behind the declining U.S. share of R&D are greater investments by Taiwan, South Korea, and China. Taiwan and South Korea have more than quadrupled their investments in R&D since 1995, while China will likely catch the U.S. in total R&D expenditures within the next few years.

(Click Image to Expand Size)

DOCTORAL DEGREES IN S&E - U.S. RANKING

China surpassed the United States in 2007 as the world’s largest producer of doctoral degrees…

The United States awarded about 40,000 S&E doctorates in 2016 (Figure 4). The combined EU countries awarded about 77,000.

Starting from a low base, China has seen a rapid increase over time and in 2015 awarded about 34,000 S&E doctoral degrees, predominantly in the natural sciences and engineering. China surpassed the United States in 2007 as the world’s largest producer of doctoral degrees in natural sciences and engineering (excluding social and behavioral sciences) and has remained in the lead ever since.

In 2015, China awarded 32,000 doctorates in these fields and the United States awarded 30,000.

(Click Image to Expand Size)

SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATION OUTPUT - U.S.RANKING

U.S. publication output is declining…

Along with R&D funding, research publications are an important measure for comparing countries’ scientific outputs and innovation capabilities. Not all publications are equal, but they are a useful metric on innovation overall.

Fundamental discoveries and breakthroughs are published in scientific journals and are expanded upon by other scientists over time. Continuous and high-quality publications are essential qualifications for university researchers in an increasingly competitive environment.

U.S. publication output is declining. The U.S. global share of research publications fell from 27 percent in 2003 to 18 percent in 2016 . Meanwhile, China’s share surged from 7 percent to 19 percent, overtaking the U.S. as of 2016. In absolute terms, China is now the single largest contributor of research publications (see GRAPH 2.6).

(Click Image to Expand Size)

Global Rankings - Science

SCIENCE , ENGINEERING & INNOVATION - GLOBAL RANKINGS OF U.S.

EU collectively have the highest output of S&E publications globally

The National Science Board (Board) is required under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Act prepares and transmits the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators) report. The report is prepared by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within NSF under the guidance of the Board.Indicators provides information on the state of the U.S. science and engineering (S&E) enterprise over time and within a global context. 

The 28 nations that make up the EU collectively have the highest output of S&E publications globally. China’s S&E publication output ranks next, followed by the United States.

The citation impact of China’s publications is rising rapidly, although it is currently lower than that of the United States and the EU. With respect to industrial output between 2003 and 2018, the U.S. share of worldwide value-added output declined for R&D-intensive industries even though the U.S. level of output rose.

PUBLISHED S & E ARTICLES - U.S. RANKING

China surpassed the United States and the EU individually in the production of engineering articles…

R&D produces new knowledge. The EU, China, United States, India, Japan, and South Korea together produce more than 70% of the worldwide refereed S&E publications. As with the worldwide trends for degrees awarded and R&D spending, the output of peer-reviewed S&E publications in recent years has grown more rapidly in middle-income countries, especially China, than in high-income countries, including the United States.

As measured by publication output, the subject-matter emphasis of scientific research varies across countries and regions. Among the largest producers in 2018, the United States and the EU each produced more biomedical and health sciences articles than did China.

However, China surpassed the United States and the EU individually in the production of engineering articles and now produces more than twice as many engineering articles as the United States.

(Click Image to Expand Size)

SHARES OF PATENTS WORLDWIDE - U.S. RANKING

Inventors in China accounted for about half (49%) of such patent families…

Scientific discovery and R&D increase the storehouse of knowledge, which then enables invention, innovation, and societal and economic benefits.

Patents grant novel, useful, and nonobvious inventions legal ownership rights for a specified period. Utility patents are an internationally comparable indicator of invention. However, they are an incomplete indicator because not all inventions are protected by patents.

Many inventions are patented in multiple international jurisdictions as inventors operate and seek patent protection in these markets. Data on patent families provide a broad unduplicated measure of such global inventions. Based on these data, inventors in China accounted for about half (49%) of such patent families in 2018 (Figure 26).

(Click Image to Expand Size)

VALUE ADDED OUTPUT OF R&D - U.S. RANKING

U.S. global share declined from 38% to 32%…

Knowledge and technology intensity within an industry can be measured in several ways, including an industry’s employment of highly skilled workers and its R&D intensity.

Using R&D intensity as a measure, the most R&D-intensive industries globally are manufacturing of aircraft; pharmaceuticals; computer, electronic, and optical products; computer software publishing; and scientific R&D. In these industries, global value-added output in 2018 was more than $3.2 trillion.

Between 2003 and 2018, U.S. output increased from about $570 billion to $1.04 trillion, while the U.S. global share declined from 38% to 32%. Over this period, the EU’s and Japan’s global shares declined, whereas China’s share rose rapidly (Figure 24).

ENGINERING PATENTS - U.S. RANKING

Inventors from China, Japan, and South Korea receive the majority of patents…

Inventors from China, Japan, and South Korea receive the majority of patents for unique inventions across all countries and regions, based on patent family statistics.

Engineering-related inventions made up more than half of all these global patent families in 2018. In the United States, industries producing digital and health-related products and technologies report above-average innovation rates.

Electrical and mechanical engineering-related patents made up more than half (56%) of these patent families in 2018, including those granted to inventors in the United States, the EU, South Korea, Japan, and China (Figure 27).