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Gagging scientists

Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, June 27th, 2015 - 13 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Media, science - Tags: ,

Here’s how National’s “brighter future” is working out for scientists (good work by RNZ):

More scientists complain of gagging

More scientists are coming forward saying they are being gagged or pressured, the Association of Scientists says.

Late last year the association released a poll showing 40 percent of scientists surveyed felt they were not able to speak out on issues within their areas of expertise because of management policy or concern over losing funding.

Its president, Nicola Gaston, said since the survey was made public she had been approached by several scientists who have felt pressured or gagged.

Dr Gaston said the pressure on scientists was occurring in universities and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), as pressure went on to raise more funding from industry.

I’t hard to argue that intimidation is not going on when the PM is openly contemptuous of scientists (that don’t suit his purposes), and the government sometimes attacks them (Mike Joy). It’s hard to argue that intimidation is not going on when the one of the worst offenders gets to boast about it in Metro:

He [Carrick Graham] was the probably the darkest character in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics. A man who was paid to attack anyone who stood up to his wealthy inter­national sugar, tobacco and alcohol clients. A shadowy figure who fought behind the anonymity of social media and wrote some of the more virulent posts on his friend Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog site.

We’re sitting in Graham’s white, modern Parnell offices. There are some big-screen Mac computers, framed political cartoons, a set of vintage water skis and just around one corner an array of passport-sized photographs, stuck to the wall like a TV cop show operations room, linked by coloured thread. These are his current targets, complete with their affiliated organisations and their available budgets. Currently most of the photos relate to people linked to the HRC, the Health Research Council. This is the major funder on behalf of central govern­ment of biomedical, public health, Maori health and Pacific health research.

These are the people Graham is currently being paid to attack. But at the top of the mosaic is a single photograph with no organisation or budget attached. The man is Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at Auckland University. It depends which side you’re on, but this feels to me a little like James Bond and Dr Evil, locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of people like us – both literally and metaphorically.

Graham says Swinburn is a worthy adversary – and in this twisted world, that’s high praise indeed. Most of the other people stuck to the wall are, in Cameron Slater’s view, “troughers”, feeding off the public purse.

Read more of that piece if you have the stomach for it, very educational.

Labour is looking in to it:

Calls for investigation into silenced scientists

The Labour Party is urging the Government to set up an independent investigation into claims that many scientists feel gagged.

The Government is disputing the accuracy of a survey that has found 40 percent of scientists feel they can’t speak publicly about their field of expertise, either because they are forbidden to or because they fear losing funding.

Labour science and innovation spokesperson David Cunliffe said any silencing of scientists was insidious.

“Academics often feel suppressed from speaking openly about the results of their research if it’s going to rock the boat, shall we say, either for the university or the government.

“Academic freedom means that our scientists and our research should be able to state publicly the results of their research. And there’s a public good in that – that’s how we as a society get the facts and learn.”


The slow implosion of serious media. New laws to criminalise online dissent. Gagging scientists. This doesn’t end well.

13 comments on “Gagging scientists ”

  1. red-blooded 1

    I think we have to add to this the concern about cutting funding to doctoral students and the big push towards “targeted”, commercially-focused, research. Not a lot of regard for blue-sky thinking from this government…

  2. ianmac 2

    And add the demolition of Arts in University in favour of what amounts to job training. Thanks to the ignorance of Steven Joyce.
    I think that the clouding of science research has been ongoing for a few decades since the funding model was changed. Science became unable to follow interesting lines of research if it conflicted with the needs to follow the money.
    Now add the muffling of scientists per this Government.
    May as well turn to religious beliefs and hope.

  3. philj 3

    The gagging scientists Metro article confirms my gravest concerns. Nothing to fear lol.

  4. greywarshark 4

    Not just gagging but adequate funding for science. And who does taxpayer funded science serve in NZ?
    Scientists have been talking about the backward attitudes that our government has to science in general, and investing in innovation and blue skies and properly disseminated publicly funded science available to the taxpayers.
    Morning Report Tuesday 23 June 2015
    on Monday 22 June 2015

    And a long item which I haven’t read as yet –

  5. HumPrac 5

    People, like me, have been trying to get other people to simply LOOK at the evidence of this type of thing (high level SYSTEMATIC corruption) for a number of years. I have been ridiculed and called a “conspiracy theorist” many times.
    Maybe one day many people will get real and realize this corruption is GLOBALLY INTERCONNECTED. Then again – I won’t hold my breath.
    This is NOT just a National Party thing.

    Those of you who want to know more, I’ll give you the BEST possible chance at grasping the situation through the following link.

    The content in that link is your best chance at BEGINNING to understand how extensive and widespread, yet interconnected, the corruption is. Most people can’t see it because it’s too big. People need to take a look at the world from further back to gain an understanding of how much the corrupt politicians are basically ‘tools’ of the global elitists.

    Enjoy the global control system everyone, it’s only tightening its grip. If you guys ever realize that a plan towards global control/domination is real, be sure to remember all the people you once called “conspiracy theorists”, because they will be the people (with DECADES of experience in researching the issue of ‘global domination’) that you go to for information in the future.

  6. I would think that it isn’t only scientists but any professional or professional organisation that questions Government Policy. Teachers and education academics have been pretty much silenced and the Teachers Council has morphed into an institution that now includes unqualified teachers and all the controlling board are ministerial appointments. Solid, peer reviewed, educational research that does not support Government goals is rejected with all manner of spurious reasons. http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/tag/martin_thrupp

    The same happens in the medical profession where Prof Doug Sellman has been heavily attacked for daring to talk about the dangers of alcohol and medical professionals are not trusted to determine priorities in the health sector. It will be interesting to see what is cut first in the Southern DHB under the commissioner when the real issue is the crazy population based funding in sparsely populated regions.

    And we all know what happens to those in the legal profession who don’t deliver a predetermined result, even if they are the internationally acclaimed Canadian Justice, Ian Binnie. http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/new-zealand-shamed-by-collins-actions.html

    It is really hard for an ideologically driven Government to operate when all the evidence, professional knowledge and science doesn’t fit.

    • Save NZ 6.1

      @ Dave +1

      Also the councils are forced to vote for budgets they don’t agree with to stop the government appointing commissioners.

      We actually don’t live in a democracy any more.

      Get ANGRY!

  7. Save NZ 7

    Yep, a culture of fear and retaliation has entered our country and well and truly established.

    People need to speak out and ignore the dirty politics!

    United people stand.

  8. tc 8

    Some of the dark lords finest work has been in stiffing dissent across the board so the sheeple graze on.

    They badly miss ryall and power as Joyce is cavalier and racking up the smoking holes….novo pay, MBOIE etc

  9. NZ Groover 10

    I’m sorry guys, but your lack of self-awareness is astounding. You constantly push the 97% meme on Climate Change and then produce this blog post on scientists being gagged. What do you think happens to any scientist that doesn’t tow the Man-Made Climate Change line! What are the chances of them progressing academically. What are the chances of them getting funding. Maybe you’re now only realising why there’s only a few brave scientists prepared to speak out.

    • Mate, the minority of scientists who are prepared to say climate change isn’t real get well funded by the various industries that profit from pumping shit into our atmosphere. It’s a guaranteed way to get rich, or at least has been until recent times, when pretty much nobody takes them seriously any more and even the likes of BP are embracing reality.

      Read the post (I’m assuming you haven’t already, given your comment).

      • b waghorn 10.1.1

        In today’s NZ farmer there is a opinion from Jon Morgan blaming the flooding on deforestation but because he has photos from 1904 of a similar sized flood he seems to draw the conclusion the global warming isn’t happening. So there still plenty of them amongst use.
        Can’t link from there online site sorry.

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