Science in the 21st Century: Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels



Minority views on technical issues are largely absent from the public arena. Increasingly corporate organization of science has led to knowledge monopolies, which, with the unwitting help of uncritical mass media, effect a kind of censorship. Since corporate scientific organizations also control the funding of research, by denying funds for unorthodox work they function as research cartels as well as knowledge monopolies. A related aspect of contemporary science is commercialization. Science is now altogether different from the traditional disinterested search, by self-motivated individuals, to understand the world. What national and international organizations publicly proclaim as scientific information is not safeguarded by the traditional process of peer review. Society needs new arrangements to ensure that public information about matters of science will be trustworthy. Actions to curb the power of the monopolies and cartels can be conceived: mandatory funding of contrarian research, mandatory presence of contrarian opinion on advisory panels, a Science Court to adjudicate technical controversies, ombudsman offices at a variety of organizations. Most sorely needed is vigorously investigative science journalism.

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