The New York Times September 21, 2013 Silencing Scientists By VERLYN KLINKENBORG Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.
The New York Times
September 21, 2013
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.
It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.
There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.
Science is the gathering of hypotheses and the endless testing of them. It involves checking and double-checking, self-criticism and a willingness to overturn even fundamental assumptions if they prove to be wrong. But none of this can happen without open communication among scientists. This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.
It is also designed to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the northern resource rush — the feverish effort to mine the earth and the ocean with little regard for environmental consequences. The Harper policy seems designed to make sure that the tar sands project proceeds quietly, with no surprises, no bad news, no alarms from government scientists. To all the other kinds of pollution the tar sands will yield, we must now add another: the degradation of vital streams of research and information.
“The genealogy of knowledge consists of two separate bodies of knowledge:
The dissenting opinions and theories that did not become the established and widely recognized
The local beliefs and understandings (think of what nurses know about medicine that does not achieve power and general recognition).
The genealogy is concerned with bringing these two knowledges, and their struggles to pass themselves on to others, out into the light of the day” (Shawver, Lois (2006).
Source:http://www.degenevieve.com/files/Dictionary-Michel%20Foucault.pdf Foucault dictionary”.
US - Occupy student debt 2011 (6 min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyOvenCbr8c 5 min 2012 upload governmentality of control over media
Applying Foucault’s concepts to the article by Winter (2002), Media Monopoly
State power vs. Corporate concentration of power
State vs. corporate Surveillance and reinforcement of obedience
State vs. Corporate Punishment (of firing from jobs)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2trT8t2-Hl8 Canada’s media monopoly 10min -2010
Disciplinary power (cont’d)
The answers to these questions change over time as power arrangements in society shift. e.g:
Historical periods in ‘knowledge’ construction and dissemination:
Priests controlled knowledge & dissemination
State and private Endowments set up universities & curricula.
Professionals as experts accredit & regulate ‘what’ is knowledge
Information technologies create and disseminate so called ‘knowledge’
Corporate funding impacts, regulates and interferes with the autonomy of the university (a repository of knowledge).
Lack of ethics in business: Enron & fabricated accounting
Nancy Oliviery’s attempts to fight back unethical corp power:
Care of the self: The name of the ethical principle
That leads people to cultivate themselves, that is to work to improve themselves… learning to shape one’s own inner character (Foucault, Care of the Self, p.67)
She is still at the University of Toronto and has become a respected defender of academic freedom.
Criteria established by the Privacy Commissioner, ONT
1. records or portions of records in the possession of an APUO member that relate to personal matters or activities that are wholly unrelated to the university’s mandate, are not in the university’s custody or control;
2. records relating to teaching or research are likely to be impacted by academic freedom, and would only be in the university’s custody and/or control if they would be accessible to it by custom or practice, taking academic freedom into account;
3. administrative records are prima facie in the university’s custody and control, but would not be if they are unavailable to the university by custom or practice, taking academic freedom into account.
FINAL ORDER PO-3009-F
University of Ottawa
November 7, 2011