Capitalism Is Ruining Science


From Jacobin Magazine: “When the competitive dictates of capitalism — selling your labor if you’re a worker, maximizing profit if you’re a boss — reign over all else, alternative pursuits are inevitably thwarted, no matter how noble. A noble purpose of the science academy, for example, is to provide the resources and encouragement for people to carry out rigorous experiments that will enhance collective knowledge about the world we live in. But those aspirations suffer as austerity-minded administrations stem the tide of federal funding for universities and research, and institutions react by changing their funding models to stay afloat.

Edwards and Roy observe that hypercompetition caused by the proliferation of performance metrics causes academic scientists to emphasize quantity over quality, incentivizes them to cut corners, and selects for the most career-minded rather than science-minded scholars. In short, the dictates of the capitalist market (‘competition, accumulation, profit-maximization, and increasing labour-productivity’) hurt scientific integrity and the collective pursuit of knowledge.”

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  1. There is also an incentive to find “positive” study results, which is perhaps the most disturbing distortion of science. Real science puts MUCH higher value on NEGATIVE outcomes, because those are the only ones that can be definitively proven. Positive outcomes are only positive until a study contradicts them. Only after attempting to find any other better way to explain the data or to disprove the theory at hand fails can we call something a “scientific fact.” Focusing on positive studies and ignoring negative ones is no longer science – it is a form of marketing.

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    • bcharris

      You said: ” I’m afraid we’ll have to endure this until we consistently have to endure repeat disasters from this pseudo-science.”

      I think you completely missed the essence of this article which was summed up in the last line.

      “But in all likelihood, the problems will continue until the root cause is addressed — that is, until capitalism no longer dominates the university, and the society that sustains it.”


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