Junk science is faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special interests and hidden agendas.
Examples of special interests include:
The media may use junk science to produce sensational headlines and programming, the purpose of which is to generate increased readership and viewership. More readers and viewers mean more revenues from advertisement. The media may also use junk science to advance personal or organizationsl social and political agendas.
Personal injury lawyers, sometimes referred to simply as trial lawyers (as in the American Association of Trial Lawyers or ATLA), may use junk science to extort settlements from deep-pocketed businesses or to bamboozle juries into awarding huge verdicts.
Social and political activists may use junk science to achieve social and political change.
Government regulators may use junk science to expand regulatory their authority, increase their budgets o advance the political agenda of elected officials.
Businesses may use junk science to bad-mouth competitors’ products, make bogus claims about their own products, or to promote political or social change that would increase sales and profits.
Politicians may use junk science to curry favor with special interest groups, to be politically correct or to advance their own personal political beliefs.
Individual scientists may use junk science to achieve fame and fortune.
Individuals who are ill (real or imagined) may use junk science to blame others for causing their illness. Individuals may also use junk science to seek fame and fortune.
Being wrong is not the same as being guilty of junk science.
The scientific method calls for trial-and-error until the truth is determined. More than likely, this means many trials and many errors. Scientists learn from their errors. So wrong science is part of the scientific method. (See Junk Science Judo, pp. 43-44)
Wrong science becomes junk science only when its obvious or easily-determined flaws are ignored and it is then used to advance some special interest.
Steven J. Milloy
Steven J. Milloy is the publisher of JunkScience.com, an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and a columnist for FoxNews.com and the New York Sun. Milloy was also a member of the judging panel for the 2004 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Journalism Awards: Online Category.
Mr. Milloy has appeared on local, national and international television and radio including: ABC's World News Tonight and Good Morning America; CNN's Crossfire and Talk Back Live; CNNfn; CNN International's Insight; MSNBC's News with Brian Williams; Fox News Channel's Fox Report, Fox and Friends, The O'Reilly Factor, and Special Report with Brit Hume; National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation and the G. Gordon Liddy Show.
Mr. Milloy holds a B.A. in Natural Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University, a Master of Health Sciences in Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, and a Master of Laws from the Georgetown University Law Center. He has testified on risk assessment and Superfund before the U.S. Congress; and has lectured before numerous organizations.
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