Book Review

May 26th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Robert Lee Holtz of the Los Angeles Times reviews a new book in American Scientist titled “Science in the Private Interest: Has the Lure of Profits Corrupted Biomedical Research?” by Sheldon Krimsky. Here is an excerpt from the review:

“Many scientists, particularly those doing biomedical research, are no longer looking solely for the truth—they are also seeking their fortunes. And when the pursuit of commercial advantage compromises scientific integrity, the public safety and public trust suffer.

As arbiters of technical disputes, scientists in America contribute almost as much to public policy, regulation and law as to basic research. For example, they regularly testify in front of legislators, who are now grappling with cloning, genomics and stem cell biology. Advances already on the horizon promise a control over human biology and behavior that makes today’s innovations seem primitive. Yet it is becoming increasingly hard for Congress, the courts, the general public and the media to find knowledgeable scientists without any financial stake in a biomedical controversy or regulatory debate.

That difficulty is what so concerns Sheldon Krimsky, a policy analyst at Tufts University who for two decades has been one of the country’s leading experts on the consequences of the commercialization of science. Krimsky has distilled a professional lifetime of experience as a skeptical scholar of the changing scientific culture into a new book, Science in the Private Interest. Shrewd, unsparing and never shrill, this book ought to be obligatory reading for anyone who values the role that science plays in the political life of the United States.”

The whole review is here.

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