Tuesday, July 20, 2010

World Gone Wrong

I'll admit it...I'm a bit naive to the ways of the business world. I mean, I get the concept of free enterprise, and profit, and I'm all for that. But in my limited view, those concepts work for the greater good of society when they are practiced within the limitations of shared ethical standards. That's cool right? Just common decency...and I'm not even talking about laws or regulations, I'm talking about the basic assumption of honesty that allows us to conduct the transactions of daily life with a modicum of assurance that the parties involved aren't trying to screw each other. Well....that shit ain't really working so good at the moment.

Case in point: Science and Business. Scientists are the smart guys and gals, the eggheads, the ones who collect and interpret the data. If they lie about their findings, society is put at risk. Fairly simple. However, sometimes their findings don't land within the profit margins of the business folks...and the squeezing begins. That's cool. Squeezing the facts can result in getting the absolute most of a situation, allowing folks to make money and other folks to receive goods and services....and the world goes round. But what if a company, lets say BP, calculates that it's in its best interest to ignore science, or control science or just flat out lie, obstruct, and obscure the collection of data. And further, what if the company then attempts to silence scientists with contracts that prevent them from reporting their findings for years. Oh man, then you got the makings for some ethical violations there...on both sides. And yet, this is exactly what is being alleged in this article by Ben Raines in the Press-Register of Mobile, AL.
BP PLC attempted to hire the entire marine sciences department at one Alabama university, according to scientists involved in discussions with the company's lawyers. The university declined because of confidentiality restrictions that the company sought on any research.The Press-Register obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years.

Now, the scientists at the University of South Alabama declined the offers on ...get this...ethical grounds. Not so much for LSU, University of Southern Mississippi, and Texas A&M. And there's more about Bobby Jindal's sand berm folly, but I've done that to death on here. It blows my mind how cynical these folks are, and how stupid they assume we are.

Photo by Crowolf

Thanks for the tip in Wayne!

1 comment:

  1. The funny thing about science is that it's based on facts, and facts are beyond anyone's capacity to alter. They always win. That's why acts of hubris such as you write about are so stupid: It blows up in your face sooner or later.

    "But in my limited view, those concepts work for the greater good of society when they are practiced within the limitations of shared ethical standards."

    It works when adequately regulated. But the average CEO would roll his own mother if it meant an extra dime on the balance sheet. Corporations are sharks: They go for the blood in the water. You can't blame them; they have no moral compass, and it's what they do. But society must regulate corporations or they will take over.

    Don't get me started on Bobby "Rocks is Rocks" Jindal. I expect that any day now he'll say "Science schmience. We have to destroy the Gulf in order to protect it."