Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Doggerel #130: "The Corporations!"
"There is no world, anymore! It's just corporations!" - Number Two, trying to explain to Dr. Evil why legitimate business makes more sense than zany world domination schemes.
Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.
Money is a major source of power in this world. It's hard to doubt that, or that it can lead to corruption. The problem for woos who like to paint a picture of corrupt CEOs controlling everything is that science has safeguards against that sort of thing. Corrupting all the scientific studies around the world on a topic would pretty much require millions of people being subject to bribes. That would include direct competitors and idealists.
That's one reason I have a hard time buying the idea that some unspecified corporate masters could control results in scientific studies. They might be able to get away with falsifying one study conducted by members on their own payrolls, but that's what independent replication and peer review are for: They can't buy off everyone.
At this point, woos will typically descend into deeper cynicism, suggesting that everyone except their camp can indeed be bought off, and for cheap. They'd rather we believe the world is a simple black-and-white place, and that any large amount of money conveys near-omnipotence within administration and bureaucracy of those below. It's a rather sad way to view the world, but I digress. Such conspiracies are untenable because of the sheer number of conflicting forces in the world, and even within corporations.
Even more than that, it presumes the corporation in question is actually evil. Woos seldom stop to think that a corporation might actually be doing something good, or that doing good might actually be in the corporation's best interest. For a lot of pharmaceutical companies, I can imagine producing highly useful medications for a variety of conditions would be very good in the long term: If everyone lives a long, healthy life, chances are, they'll be major consumers in old age, when natural breakdown kicks in.
All in all, this is a subject change. The fact that a corporation may be involved in a study is typically irrelevant, no matter what devious motives you can dream up: The scientific method is designed to combat bias. Unless the woo can demonstrate how and where that bias could affect the study's results, it's meaningless.