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Sociology 2259
Kim Luton

Sociology Notes CHAPTER 9- SCIENTIFIC BELIEF SYSTEMS Religion Compared to Science - despite proclaiming truths, religious and scientific belief systems are subjective, as they both emerge through processes of social construction - two different relationships between deviance and science- science as deviance (when deviance occurs within science) and science as a social typer of deviance (when science tells us what is or should be considered deviant) - science: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method - therefore, science consists of both scientific belief systems (proclaimed truths) and technologies (techniques and methods used to obtain that knowledge) - first, there are claims about the nature of reality- the way the world works - secondly, there are ethical and moral claims embedded in the scientific belief system - the technology known as the scientific method is broadly shared among sciences, but specific techniques and methods are also used within each sub-discipline of science, such as in physics and genetics Science as Deviance - scientists may be socially typed as deviant when they engage in scientific misconduct or violate ethical guidelines; this is deviance in science - secondly, scientists may be considered deviant when they are part of a discipline that is not recognized by the scientific community as being real science; this can be called deviant science Deviance in Science Forms of Deviant Science - 19th century physicist Charles Babbage identified several forms of behaviour that are considered deviant in the scientific community - 1.) forging, which refers to scientists who falsify their data, reporting observations that never really occurred - forging is similar to the second form of deviance in science: - 2.) hoaxes, except hoaxes are distinct in that it is expected they will be discovered or they are intended to be similar to practical jokes - i.e. --> Piltdown Man hoax in 1912- partial skull and jawbone of an unknown form of early stone-age human were actually taken from separate species, put together, and treated with a chemical to make them look older - Clonaid--> contacted the media claiming they had successfully cloned a human being; however, the rest of the scientific community declared this to be a hoax and the Clonaid scientists have refused to come forward to offer evidence of their cloning success - 3.) trimming, which means manipulating real observations so that they will support a theory in questions - 4.) cooking; selectively reporting only that data that supports a theory in question and suppressing or ignoring remaining data - Judson (2004) describes fabrication, which is equivalent to forging and hoaxes, and falsification, which includes trimming, cooking, combining two experiments into one set of results - some scholars mention ethical violations as another form of scientific deviance - the Hippocratic oath: doctors vow to balance the protection of their patients with the pursuit of science and the practice of the art of medicine - all scientific disciplines governed by codes of ethics and are subject to the Research Ethic Boards of their institution - scientific misconduct can be used as the umbrella term to refer to fabrication, falsifi- cation, breaches of ethics, plagiarism, and any other scientific practices deemed unac- ceptable or inappropriate - concerns about the extent of scientific misconduct intensified in the late 1970s, partial- ly due to the 1974 Patchwork Mouse incident - this incident involved a researcher who claimed to have grafted skin from a black mouse onto a white mouse, but had actually drawn patches on the white mouse using a black marker - social sciences also face these issues of misconduct - several of the twin studies and adoption studies from the 1970s and 1980s that claimed genetic determinants to various psychological and behavioural characteristics (i.e. criminality, personality traits) have since been called into question, and accusations of scientific misconduct made - however, misconduct continues to be associated primarily with the hard sciences, es- pecially biomedical research, because it is more likely to be looked for and detected (es- pecially if these experiments are heavily funded and have a lot of media coverage) - The U.S. Office for Research Integrity reports that the financial cost of gross miscon- duct in the biomedical fields has been estimated to be as high as $1 million per case - any type of scientific misconduct can be combined with yet another type- junk science - junk science refers to the ungrounded claims of people with little or no scientific back- ground or people using their scientific credentials alone to try and to convince people of the validity of their claims Laura Schlessinger & John Gray - popular author and radio show host Laura Schlessinger does have a doctorate, howev- er, her PhD is in physiology and is not associated with the relationship advice she gives in her syndicated radio show and books - 40% of adult New Yorkers were certain that she was either a psychologist or a psychi- atrist and only 30% were quite sure she was neither - her advice is not supported by scientific research; in fact, it frequently contradicts the findings of science - critics say she uses her spurious scientific credentials as a validation of the religious belief system that she promotes in her radio show and books - all of her behaviours are violations of the ethical codes that govern the work of psy- chologists - these include respect for the dignity of persons, responsibly caring, non-discrimination, and a responsibility to maintain currency with psychological research (e.g. Canadian Psychological Association, 2000) - label of junk science has also been applied to John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus - his background is theological, and he spent many years as a monk - his doctorate is from Columbia Pacific University, a non-accredited university that of- fers doctoral degrees via correspondence courses in extremely short periods of time, and has since been shut down - despite his non-accredited doctoral credentials, he has become an accepted member of the psychological and counseling communities and currently sits on various interna- tional boards involved with marriage and family therapy - John Grays work has distanced itself from religion despite his religious background, and makes greater use of scientific belief systems Rise and Fall of Dr. Hwang Woo Suk - in May 2005, Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, a professor at Seoul National University in South Korea, published an article claiming he had successfully cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them - it wasnt long before anonymous web postings and a call to a television news program claimed Hwang had fabricated at least some of his research data - an investigation began at Seoul National University, and its final report revealed that Hwangs data on human cloning and stem cells had been falsified - Seoul National University fired him - in May 2006, he and five other members of his research team were indicted for embez- zlement and bioethics law violations - since then, he has admitted to falsifying data, though he still claims his fellow re- searchers are just as guilty as he is The Tobacco Industry - deviance in science is visible through the many years of claims by scientists working for tobacco companies claiming that their research showed that smoking was neither addictive nor harmful - various forms of fabrication, falsification, and junk science have all characterized the scientific claims of the tobacco industry - industry did not finally admit that smoking is harmful until 1999 - they had their own scientific experts label the research showing the harmful effects of smoking junk science and even established The Advancement of Sound Science Coali- tion (TASSC) - initially, the fact that this coalition was created and funded by Philip Morris (a leading tobacco firm) was hidden - scientists from TASSC consistently showed that the research linking secondhand smoke with physical harm was invalid science The Extent of the Problem - survey of 3200 medical researchers in the United States found that one-third admitted to engaging in at least 1 of 10 serious forms of research misconduct
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