Title 6 – KQ : 8 To what extent ‘ Ethics’ or the lack of it , play a role in the level of disagreements and consensus in areas of knowledge?
The ‘ impersonal opinion’ of experts and thinkers may be influenced by financial , professional , economic , political and social considerations. Speaking from an Ethical viewpoint , the neutrality and infallibility of expertise is under a scanner specially when there are disagreements that have commercial implications. The traditional ideal of “ appeal to facts and the interpretations by experts “ is under going a change in public perception and trust that experts are not infallible and the scientific methodology cannot always guarantee the expert’s objectivity” .
There has been considerable increase in ‘errors’ reported in the scientific papers with serious concerns over reproducibility of results. Scientists do acknowledge the ‘errors’ when found but the mounting peer pressure , chase for grants and competition seems to have taken precedence over deliberate accuracy. The scientific community is in need to develop a robust ethical code and value system to tackle errors in the process of inquiry and analysis.
The inhouse expert of the corporation/producer/manufacturer will always claim to have more authority and better data , more likely to have a bias in favor of their employer and support their employer’s position . For example , decades back smoking of tobacco was very popular and manufacturers of tobacco products brought forth research results that seemed to deny the validity of new scientific data showing that smoking of tobacco causes cancer and other major health problems .
There are also efforts to suppress dissent to safeguard your own commercial interests and reputation. “The controversy about the alleged human toxicity of glyphosate and Roundup is more than a decade old -This ongoing controversy not only has scientists arguing with other scientists, but also has scientists disputing with a very large well-established commercial company , Monsanto, allegedly hindering the research and investigations.”