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"The Scientific Straightjacket: The Power Structure of Science and the Suppression of Environmental Scholarship" -The Ecologist, Vol. 11, No. 1, January-February 1981, pp. 33-43.

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  • Jason Stewart
    Quotation: The Scientific Straightjacket: The Power Structure of Science and the Suppression of Environmental Scholarship The Ecologist, Vol. 11, No. 1,
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      Quotation:
      "

      The Scientific Straightjacket: The Power Structure of Science and the Suppression of Environmental Scholarship

      The Ecologist, Vol. 11, No. 1, January-February 1981, pp. 33-43.

      The text here is as submitted to The Ecologist. Text deleted by The Ecologist is {curly bracketed} and text added is inbold italics. Minor rewriting of the text is not indicated. All these changes were made without consultation with the author. Corrections made since submission are indicated by [square brackets].


      by Brian Martin



      Go to
      Suppression of dissent website

      Brian Martin's publications on suppression of dissent

      Brian Martin's publications

      Brian Martin's website



      {Summary

      Political power exercised by leading scientists can be usefully understood as being based on service to powerful groups in government and industry and on disciplinary exclusiveness maintained via specialisation and isolation of scientific work from the public. This perspective on the power structure of science helps to explain evidence of the suppression of scientists pursuing environmental research and teaching.}

      Dissident scientists in communist countries receive wide publicity for their causes. But what of cases of suppression in the West? How do those who challenge the scientific establishment fare? And why have environmentalists become the chief target of those who seek to preserve the status quo?

      {Dr. Brian Martin is a research assistant in the Department of Applied Mathematics, Faculty of Science, Australian National University, P.O.Box 4, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia.

      10 October 1980

      Versions of this paper were presented to the HERDSA conference, Canberra, May 1980, to the ANZAAS conference, Adelaide, May 1980, and to the National Science Forum, Canberra, September 1980.}



      Inscribed across the facade of the Sydney University School of Physics are the names of twenty or so famous scientists: Archimedes, Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton and others. As a result of their scientific achievements, such illustrious forebears commanded respect; through their authority and prestige in scientific matters, they influenced the direction of scientific research. Or so the standard image of scientific 'greats', as portrayed in textbooks and the media, would suggest.

      But what is the relation of the image of the eminent scientists of past eras to the present generation of scientific elites who hold positions of power in large research organisations around the world? Setting aside the question of the actual status of past elites, there is no doubt that a vast change in the organisation of scientific research has come about in the past few decades. This transformation may be called bureaucratisation or industrialisation or the shift from little science to big science. Even if it were ever the case in the past, it is doubtful that the leaders of the scientific community today exert power primarily through their authority on scientific matters alone.

      Table 1 lists a number of instances of suppression from Australia and New Zealand involving individuals who have been engaged in research or teaching relating to environmental issues. {In this paper I sketch a perspective on the power structure of science, motivated in part by the need to explain instances such as in Table 1 which are often treated as unproblematic by other approaches.}



      Table 1. Instances of suppression from Australia and New Zealand involving individuals engaged in environmental research or teaching.

      CASE 1:
      Name Dr John Coulter
      Position Surgical Research Officer, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide (1959- ).
      Background (a) Outspoken on numerous and diverse environmental issues, such as the impacts of environmental chemicals (1956- ).
      (b) As a researcher in IMVS, started on his own initiative (1977- ) a routine service for testing substances for mutagenic properties.
      (c) Prepared a report on the hazards of ethylene oxide (ETO) as a sterilant, and gave this to ETO workers as well as to the appropriate IMVS Committee (16 April 1980).
      (d) Posted on IMVS noticeboards copies of the ETO report and related correspondence with the Director of IMVS (8 May 1980).
      Action (a) Letters of complaint to IMVS from chemical companies.
      (b) Environmental mutagens testing unit closed by IMVS on 30 June 1980.
      (c) Letter of rebuke from Director of IMVS for releasing ETO report to workers (23 April 1980).
      (d) Instruction from Director of IMVS to not make available material dealing with the affairs of IMVS to any staff member without express approval from the Director (9 May 1980).
      (e) Coulter dismissed from IMVS (30 June 1980).
      Status Unresolved (September 1980).
      Reference (1)

      CASE 2:
      Name Dr Jeremy Evans
      Position Senior Lecturer, Human Sciences Program, Australian National University (1973- ).
      Background Taught in environmentally oriented Human Sciences Program (1973- ).
      Action Reappointment and review committees recommended that tenure be denied (1979).
      Status Tenure decision postponed until 1982.
      References (2), (3)

      CASE 3:
      Name Dr John Hookey
      Position Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Australian National University (1971-1974).
      Background Introduced (1972) and taught first Australian undergraduate course in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, at Australian National University.
      Action Indication that tenure would be denied (1973).
      Status Resigned (1974) pending completion of internal appeal to take up appointment as Public Hearings Commissioner in Federal Department of Environment and Conservation; subsequently Commissioner, Redcliff Environmental Inquiry, and Presiding Commissioner, Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry.
      Reference (4)

      CASE 4:
      Name Dr Philip Keane
      Position Lecturer in Botany, La Trobe University (1975- ).
      Background Published an article (5) in a national weekly newspaper (January 1977) about the spread of cinnamon fungus in Victorian forests.
      Action Chairman of the Forests Commission of Victoria applied great pressure on the University's Chancellor, Acting Vice-Chancellor and the Deans of Science to take action - nine letters written and hand-delivered between 3rd and 24th February 1977 (6).
      Status Unchanged by events. The University Council was informed of the attacks and the appropriate officers (Chairman of Department, Dean of School of Biological Sciences) resisted all pressures and strongly rejected the allegations made. The Chairman of the Forests Commission was further informed that all Australian University Statutes are framed to allow staff to speak publicly on controversial issues thereby preserving academic freedom.
      Reference (7)

      CASE 5:
      Name Dr Robert Mann
      Position Senior Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry, on secondment to Centre for Continuing Education (1976- ), University of Auckland.
      Background A founding teacher (1974- ) of the Environmental Studies programme; publicly active on issues of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, 2,4,5-T, etc.
      Action Dismissal proceedings initiated (1977) by University of Auckland after letter to Vice-Chancellor from Head of Department of Biochemistry (no grounds given).
      Status Dismissal efforts renewed 1979; University Council proposed further probation and implied cancellation of accumulated leave entitlement.
      Reference (8)

      CASE 6:
      Name Professor Clyde Manwell
      Position Professor of Zoology, University of Adelaide (1970- ).
      Background Sent letter (co-author, C. M. A. Baker) to newspaper criticising aspects of the South Australian government fruit-fly spraying programme (1971) .
      Action (a) Dismissal proceedings initiated by senior Professor of Zoology (1971).
      (b) Australian Research Grants Committee grant cut off (1972).
      Status (a) Proceedings dropped (1975).
      (b) Grants not resumed (1980).
      References (a) (9); (b) (10)

      CASE 7:
      Name Mr Peter Rawlinson
      Position Senior Lecturer, Zoology Department, La Trobe University (1967- ).
      Background Involved in a series of radio and television interviews critical of the activity of the Forests Commission of Victoria, especially with regard to the spread of cinnamon fungus (January and February 1977), at the time being an elected member of the Conservation Council of Victoria Executive and their spokesperson on forestry issues.
      Action Chairman of the Forests Commission of Victoria applied great pressure to the University's Chancellor, Acting Vice-Chancellor and the Deans of Science to take action: nine letters written and hand-delivered between 3rd and 24th February 1977.
      Status Unchanged by events. The University Council was informed of the attacks and the appropriate officers resisted all pressures and strongly rejected the allegations made. The Chairman of the Forests Commission was further informed that all Australian University Statutes are framed to allow staff to speak publicly on controversial issues thereby preserving academic freedom.
      Reference (7)

      CASE 8:
      Name Mr Richard Routley
      Position Senior Fellow, Philosophy Department, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (1971- ).
      Background Wrote a book (co-author, Val Routley), Fight for the Forests (11), which was critical of Australian forestry planning and practice. Publication by Research School of Social Sciences arranged (1972).
      Action (a) ANU Vice-Chancellor suggested that printing should not proceed unless book was given to the Head of the Forestry Department at ANU, to be revised in accordance with his comments (1973).
      (b) R. Routley barred from using Forestry Department library (1974).
      Status (a) Three editions (1973, 1974, 1975) of book published and sold out; strong interest in book continues (1980), but funding for further editions or reprints unavailable.
      (b) Bar dropped (1974).
      Reference (12)

      CASE 9:
      Name Mr David Smith
      Position Ph.D. candidate, Forestry Department, Australian National University (1974- ).
      Background Ph.D. thesis showed inadequacies in current procedures for evaluating effectiveness of pesticides (1977).
      Action Two of three examiners rejected Ph.D. thesis (1978).
      Status Unresolved (1980); working elsewhere (1978- ).
      Reference (13)

      CASE 10:
      Name Dr Peter Springell
      Position Principal Research Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (1953-1976).
      Background Scientific research undertaken and published on environmental topics; criticism of CSIRO for lack of environmental research (1974-1976).
      Action Refusal to allow papers to be published through CSIRO; attempts at dismissal and transfer (1974-1976).
      Status Resigned from post (1976); working elsewhere.
      Reference (14)


      Suppression of scientists

      {The cases with which I am concerned must satisfy at least two requirements. First, the suppression is carried out by those with a greater amount of power, or a higher rank in the hierarchy, against others with less power and lower status. Second, the suppression cannot be justified by conventional scientific or academic criteria alone. The examples in Table 1 and the text should further qualify the use here of the term 'suppression'.}

      There is little documentation of the scale of suppression in the scientific and academic communities. Most of the cases in Table 1 came to my attention through personal contacts. For example, within the Australian National University, where four of the ten cases originated, there is no straightforward or easy way to determine the existence of academic suppression. However, there are several reasons to believe that cases such as in Table 1 are only the tip of an iceberg.

      In a survey of evidence about suppression of dissident scientists, Manwell and Baker (15) conclude that such suppression is much more widespread in the west than generally acknowledged. But, they note, cases in the west receive very little publicity compared to the great attention focussed on dissidents in communist countries. For example, it was only as result of his personal case and the publicity it received that Manwell was informed of over 100 cases of suppression in the English-speaking world (16).

      It is well known that there were wide-scale sackings and harassment of scientists and academics in the 1940s and 1950s, especially in the US (17). The large scale of this activity is often forgotten, as are the long term effects of this attack on nonconformist scholarship. Just as important is the low level of awareness of the political suppression which has continued since then (18).

      As well as political beliefs, suppression is often closely connected with struggles with organisational vested interests, and with disputes over the validity of different types of knowledge and ways of acquiring it - that is, paradigm disputes (19). A mixture of political, organisational and paradigm aspects in suppression cases is quite common (20).

      Most scientists prefer to avoid public controversy concerning their own research and teaching. This means that it is difficult to find individuals willing to have their cases presented as in Table 1. I know of several other suppression cases in which the involved principals do not wish publicity for personal or career reasons. There are also many cases in which suppression is a likely possibility but in which sufficient evidence is not available to make a firm public case.

      For these reasons it seems reasonable to infer that publicised cases are a small fraction of total cases (21). Furthermore, since some types of suppression receive more publicity on average than others, it is highly likely that outright attempts at termination of employment as in the cases of Coulter, Evans and Manwell are greatly outnumbered by non-renewals of non-tenured positions, by failures to hire and promote, and by pressures leading to non-initiation of particular types of environmental research and teaching.

      At a more fundamental level, suppression merges with inhibition. As clearly expressed by C. Wright Mills years ago in relation to university teachers, "the deepest problem of freedom for teachers is not the occasional ousting of a professor, but a vague general fear - sometimes politely known as 'discretion', 'good taste', or 'balanced judgment'. It is a fear which leads to self-intimidation and finally becomes so habitual that the scholar is unaware of it. The real restraints are not so much external prohibitions as control of the insurgent by the agreements of academic gentlemen" (22).

      {So while the instances in Table 1 cover important types of suppression, the frequencies of the different modes of suppression are undoubtedly rather different from those suggested by the Table.

      Eight of the ten cases in Table 1 involve individuals at universities. In actuality} the incidence of suppression in the environmental area is almost certainly greater in government and industry than in academia, especially when cases of inhibition are included. Academics generally have much greater freedom - in that their jobs are less immediately threatened - to carry out research on and speak out on controversial topics. Because of their relatively greater freedom, academics are also more likely to speak up when suppression attempts are made, though this is seldom enough. Dissidents in government or industry generally keep quiet, learn a new set of standards, or quietly exit. Especially in industry, few indeed voice criticisms and stay around to tell about it. {This is another major reason to suggest that the cases in Table 1 are only the tip of an iceberg of suppression.}

      Incompetence Rarely a Factor

      Is there an underlying reason for suppression in the environmental and other areas? One answer is that the grounds used for dismissal, non-renewal and the like offered in each case are themselves valid. A detailed assessment of this would require full documentation of each case, hardly possible here. Suffice it to say that purely academic or scientific judgements are almost always insufficient as an explanation. In almost every case in Table 1, the research output or teaching performance of the individual under threat was well above average, and in several cases the research or teaching records were outstanding.

      For example, the outstanding teaching performance of Evans has been widely acknowledged (2); Manwell's publication record placed him in the top 1% of comparable scientists (10); Smith, in the few years since submitting his Ph.D. thesis, has an enviable publication record. A similar pattern has been noted in political suppression cases, in which shortcomings of ability, competence or performance have been sufficient to justify suppression in only a tiny proportion of cases (23). Also in agreement with this conclusion is a study of all contested dismissals in the period 1916-1970 reported in the American Association of University Professors [Bulletin] which found that "in only 13 of the 217 dismissal cases was there even a suggestion of incompetence in either their teaching or research" (24, 25).

      The cases as listed in Table 1 are only outlines. In almost every case, further details and information show even more clearly that the suppression is illegitimate by normal scientific and academic criteria, and that the suppression efforts are more systematic and sustained than first meets the eye. For example, at the time of the Routley case, several scientists in different organisations were threatened with dismissal or other reprisals for merely giving to the Routleys publicly available information and references to public documents.

      Environmentalists singled out?

      Furthermore, in cases in which no clear reasons for the suppression action were given, there are a lack of scientific or academic justifications for the action. But there are suggestive alternative explanations. It is reasonable in Mann's case to imagine that his public activities as an environmentalist played some role in the initiation of dismissal efforts. And those familiar with Hookey's career would be disinclined to accept that the action taken against him was a result of poor teaching or research, given his initiative in introducing the first Australian undergraduate course in environmental and natural resources law, his publication of papers on Aboriginal land rights (26) and his participation in Papua New Guinea land rights cases (27).

      {Another view, independently expressed to me by several scientists, is that much suppression is inspired by second-rate practitioners who attained positions of power in earlier days when qualified scientists were scarce, and who are threatened by challenging, innovative work carried out by newcomers. This factor may play a role. But the relatively few individuals actively carrying out attempts at suppression often include scientists who are first-rate by any standard, while in my experience many others with lesser records either do not participate or actively oppose suppression efforts.}

      It might also be claimed that suppression in the area of environmental research and teaching is not unusual, since suppression is common in all areas of research and teaching. No doubt this is true in a general sense. But as noted before, available evidence suggests that suppression is closely connected with political beliefs, organisational vested interests, paradigm disputes and combinations of these. Each of these factors helps make the environmental area a prime one for suppression. Environmental scholarship is often seen as linked to the 'politics' of the environmental movement; environmental scholarship often presents a challenge to established practices and policies of powerful organisations; and environmental scholarship often challenges the dogmas of various scientific disciplines.

      {Certainly there is no evidence for suppression in plasma physics or molecular biology on the same scale as in the environmental area. For example, the Australian National University has not been willing to reveal information to me about tenure cases (28). But it seems significant that of the small number of disputed tenure cases at the ANU in the 1970s, the only two of which I have been able to obtain detailed knowledge are environmental cases, namely those of Evans and Hookey in Table 1. Personality conflicts play a role in many cases of suppression, but this factor does not seem to explain apparent differences in the scale of suppression between different areas of inquiry.}

      The data presented here suggest an explanation for suppression of scientists based on an understanding of the power structure of science. Suppression does occur in a wide range of areas of scientific research and application, from anthropology to engineering to zoology. Tellingly, it occurs most frequently in areas such as environmental topics where opportunities arise for teaching and research which provides a threat to vested interests either inside or outside the scientific community.

      {In the following I will first provide some context by discussing previous studies of the scientific elite. Then I will spell out in more detail characteristics of the scientific power structure, with particular reference to suppression (29).

      Studies of the scientific elite

      "a small number of senior scientists who are universally recognized as the most eminent in a particular branch ... are the chief Influentials, the unofficial governors of the scientific community" (30).}

      The scientific elite

      There is a considerable literature documenting the existence of an elite group within the scientific community which is characterised by high productivity in scientific research, a high degree of professional recognition of its intellectual achievements, a high degree of internal interaction and clustering at a few select institutions, and a high degree of influence over the professional activities of non-elite scientists (31, 32). This group may be called the cognitivescientific elite, because as usually studied it is concerned mainly with academic scientists and with activities relating to the production of scientific knowledge.

      It is also possible to focus on a group which may be called the political scientific elite, that group of scientists with the greatest political power, both within and without the scientific community, to influence government and corporate policies and to influence developments in the scientific community. The power of this elite is manifest in the promotion of research in certain areas and its restraint in others, in the creation or dismantling of research institutions, in the hiring or dismissal of staff, in the allocation of funds [for] specific research projects and in the establishment of and setting of policies for scientific journals and texts (31, 33). It is clear that there is a considerable degree of overlap between the membership of the cognitive and political scientific elites as here described, as well as a degree of overlap between the activities and characteristics of the two (34). The cognitive and the political scientific elites are linked in another important way. Leaders of the scientific research community often attempt to use their political power to control what counts as scientific knowledge and how it may validly be obtained and verified, and vice versa (35, 36).

      {Studies specifically focussing on the political scientific elite are rather outnumbered by those focussing on the cognitive scientific elite. There are however many studies of the developing interaction between government, industry and science, a process which strongly involved and was crucial to the formation of the modern political scientific elite (37). In addition, there is a great deal of informal and indirect information about the political scientific elite, for example in accounts of controversies of scientific or public significance (38).}

      Most studies which treat aspects of the political scientific elite either do not address the question of the advantages and disadvantages of the existence of an elite, or tend to emphasise the functional uses of the elite, as presently constituted, to the scientific community and society as a whole (39). Few studies challenge the view, common among scientists who support the present organisation of the scientific community, that leading scientists are in positions of power due to their superior scientific abilities and achievements, and therefore are the best people to make decisions about the functioning and development of scientific research and the scientific community.

      In one of the few focussed studies of the political scientific elite, Mulkay (31) argues that scientific elites mediate between working research scientists and powerful groups, notably in government and industry, which have an interest in influencing the direction and content of scientific research. In Mulkay's view, then, the scientific elites serve to protect the working scientists from these outside, non-scientific influences.

      The object here is not to provide a detailed critique of these views, but rather to present an alternative, partly supplementary perspective. But it may be useful to mention some inadequacies of the views referred to above. First, it has not been demonstrated that there is a correlation between rising within the scientific hierarchy and the making of productive and equitable decisions about scientific priorities. Second, the positions of political power accessible via a scientific career often attract individuals interested in personal aggrandisement (40). Third, the strong vested interests which most scientific elites have in their reputations and in the perpetuation of particular types and styles of scientific research often lead to scientific {priorities aligned to sources of patronage rather than in the scientific} or public interest (41). These second and third points are seldom taken into account in studies of the scientific elite. Finally, attention mostly has been focussed on justifying, explaining or at most reforming the current style scientific elite structure. Little attention has been focussed on the possibilities for alternative structures.

      According to Mulkay's view, the main source of direct suppression of scientists would be from government and industry. Although this is indeed a primary source of suppression, I argue below that leading scientists and academics have taken an active role in many suppression efforts. More generally, it may be argued that the politics of the scientific community is characterised by what Haberer calls 'prudential acquiescence' (42). For example, German scientific leaders under Nazism adopted a course of accommodation rather than opposition to outside political direction.

      {Why has the political scientific elite so seldom been critically studied? First, there are some disincentives to studying elites of any kind: much more money is available for studying oppressed groups than oppressor groups; elites are generally unwilling - and often have the power to sustain their unwillingness - to reveal details of their activities; and researchers often stand to benefit from elites and hence are less likely to be critical of them (43). Second, many of the leading spokespeople for the scientific worldview are themselves members of the scientific elite (44) and are hardly likely to take a critical view. Third, historically one of the central ideas in the scientific community's explanation of its operation to itself and the public is the democracy of the scientific community in terms of contributions to scientific knowledge. The emphasis on this democracy has diverted attention away from the strongly hierarchical nature of the scientific community in terms of political power exercised both inside and outside the scientific community. Finally, until recently the sociology of science has treated matters of scientific knowledge as unproblematical. When the development of science is treated as the development of politically neutral scientific knowledge, matters of political power are submerged.}

      Rather than speak of the scientific elite structure, it is a useful generalisation to speak of the scientific power structure, recognising that a power structure has many levels rather than a single elite versus all the rest. Springell in Table 1 was fairly senior in the scientific hierarchy and hence suppression came from scientists and administrators who might reasonably be called elites. But in the case of Ph.D. candidate Smith, suppression was initiated by lower level scientists, though higher in the hierarchy than Smith.

      Three main aspects of the scientific power structure will be briefly discussed here: its relation to powerful groups outside the scientific community, its relation to the scientific community and its relation to scientific knowledge (45).

      {Powerful groups outside the scientific community

      Those who are high up within the scientific power structure have considerable interaction with people and organisations outside the scientific community, particularly with those in positions of power (46). This is inevitable given the sizeable fraction of social resources devoted to science and the important role given to leading scientists in deciding its allocation. A second major source of interaction arises out of the scientific advisory apparatus, again dominated in terms of influence by the most politically powerful scientists (47). For example, in Australia one body which formalises the interaction between scientific and corporate elites is the Science and Industry Forum, composed of Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science and of leading corporate executives (48). Informal interactions are at least as important as the formal ones, though much harder to document.

      Many individuals in the scientific power structure have had little or no scientific training or experience, or have lost touch with what training or experience they once had. Such individuals may suitably be called administrators. Yet many such administrators are in key positions of power concerning scientific matters, especially in government and industrial research bodies. So in actuality there is a meshing of occupational backgrounds as well as of contact and interest between individuals inside and outside the scientific power structure.

      The results of the interaction between scientific and non-scientific power brokers can be seen as a quid pro quo. From powerful non-scientists, scientists receive funding, a source of jobs and some prestige. From powerful scientists, the non-scientists receive help in directing scientific research through channels selectively useful to the latter's interests. This is fairly clear in the case of government and industry, under whose direct auspices the bulk of scientific research takes place. It also applies to university research, where the influence of grant money, future job prospects and possible applications of research help channel research into areas selectively useful to powerful groups (49). For example, Weart has concluded that leading French nuclear scientists after World War II only controlled events so long as matters moved in the directions desired by more powerful, non-scientific groups; in this context, scientists who failed to attract and maintain outside support were shunted aside for the purposes of decision-making about directions for scientific research and development (50).}

      The influence of political and economic interests on the giving of scientific advice, which frequently ends up serving to justify particular policies and practices that promote the interests of powerful groups, is well documented (41).

      The patronage of leading scientists and scientific organisations by powerful non-scientific individuals and organisations is threatened when issues are taken into the domain of public debate, since the legitimacy conferred by the stamp of unanimous scientific approval is undermined. For this reason there is a strong preference among politically powerful scientists for patterns of closed decision-making (42, 51). Secrecy in scientific decision-making is the norm in the processes of allocating research grants (52), filling posts and making organisational policies - all areas where the influence of, and service to, powerful political and economic interests is crucial. When issues are taken to the public by concerned scientists, this often is seen as inappropriate and even contrary to proper scientific behaviour. Examples can be found in many areas, such as debates relating to nuclear power and nuclear weapons (53).

      The forest industry

      The link between powerful interest groups inside and outside the scientific community helps to explain several of the cases in Table 1. In the forestry area in Australia, there appear to be strong links between university forestry departments, government forest services and research organisations, and the forest industries (timber, pulp, woodchip and other industries based on forest products). These links include informal networks of communication, professional and commercial organisations, clubs, joint conferences, consultation concerning appointments, planning and the like. These social and organisational links lead to the sharing of values and goals, which in turn influence ongoing patterns of interaction.

      One example of the link between forestry researchers and personnel in the forest industries is the international organisation called the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo (54). In Australia, the members of this social and 'service' organisation are "limited to male persons of the full age of 21 years, of good moral character and engaged in forestry, sawmilling, the manufacture of timber products, wood pulp and insulation materials derived from forest products, officials of the forestry service, forest commissions and boards, officers of timber organisations and makers of the allied industries."(55). Despite its name and associated rituals, the Hoo-Hoo plays an important role not only in generally promoting the forest industries but in helping attune forest regulatory agencies and certain forest researchers to the interests of the forest industries.

      Another component in forest industries/forest research links is the movement of key persons between posts in forest industries and government forest services. In particular there are quite a few leading figures in the government forest services who on retirement have taken positions with forest industries (56). This interaction by personnel interchange is common in many fields besides forestry, such as nuclear power, armaments and agriculture.

      {Also important is the closed-shop nature of most recruiting into government forest services. Recruits are preferred to be from special forestry schools and graduates to be from one of the two university forestry departments (ANU and Melbourne University). These are the places where the influence of the forest services and industries is greatest.

      Illustrating this influence, the electoral committee formed in 1974 for the filling of the post of professor and Head of the Department of Forestry at ANU included a representative from the Australian Institute of Forestry and another from the heads of the forest services. The committee was also to seek the views of the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau, the Australian Institute of Foresters and the heads of the state forest services (57).}

      In many Australian states, the link between government forest services and the forest industries operates through the structure of the state and federal government bureaucracies. The state cabinets appoint senior officials in the bureaucracy, including the departmental head responsible for forestry. Due to the political influence of industry in lobbying, creating jobs locally and supplying election funds, most departmental heads are chosen to be acceptable to industry. The powers of the departmental heads are considerable. For example, in Victoria, public service regulations make it punishable with dismissal for a state government scientist to criticise the departmental head or departmental policies to three or more people or to make critical comment regarding matters outside one's field. Even if such regulations are seldom applied in practice, their presence is a strong deterrent to the voicing of dissent.

      The dangers of speaking out

      Although in principle one can speak out in one's 'private capacity', in practice it is easy to get into trouble doing this. For example, John French in September 1976 spoke out as a member of the Native Forests Action Council about the spread of cinnamon fungus in Victorian forests, but was reported in a newspaper article as speaking in his capacity as a government scientist in the CSIRO. A correction was later published, but French also received a letter of concern from the Chairman of CSIRO about the newspaper article (58).

      The basic orientation of the government forest services and many forestry academics is to promote the exploitation of forest resources for the purposes of production and profit (59). This orientation carries over into the research of government and university foresters, where the criteria for valid and useful knowledge, and how it may be obtained, are influenced by the interests of the forest industries. In other words, the paradigm for many forest researchers is, to put it bluntly, based around ensuring that forests exist primarily for the forest industries.

      Anyone who challenges this view - who criticises the way foresters manage the forests, or who promotes an alternative use of forests - is apt to be attacked by the powerful forestry interest group. Indeed, I have been informed of a considerable number of cases of suppression cases in the forestry area. However, access to most jobs in forestry work is directly influenced by the powerful forestry interest group; hence most of those suppressed are hesitant to have their cases publicised. Indeed, the only cases which could be presented in Table 1 - Keane's, Rawlinson's and Routley's - involve individuals not working directly in the forestry area.

      Patterns of suppression

      A typical pattern for a suppression attempt seems to be as follows. A person makes a public criticism, a critical analysis in a research document, or some other 'threat' to the forestry establishment. Leading foresters, for example in the government forest services, then apply pressure on the individual's boss to have the criticism stopped, for example by making verbal complaints in person or by telephone, or by sending letters of complaint. Steps taken to prevent recurrence of criticism include informal comments about the individual's competence and motivations, hindering of research, blocking of appointment or promotion, and threats of dismissal. Such efforts, even when immediately unsuccessful as in the cases of Keane and Rawlinson, can by setting an example serve to reduce the future likelihood of research in sensitive areas or of public comment by others.

      Besides the forest industries, some other prime sources of suppression - either directly, or indirectly via subservient government and academic bodies - are chemical industries, pharmaceutical industries, electrical industries, mining industries and automotive industries.

      The smear campaign

      One method of suppression deserves special mention: the smear campaign or the threat of it. The following excerpt from a letter by a 'distinguished organic chemist' speaks for itself:

      "I appreciate your views that it would be desirable to have independent tests on water and plants in the area to see if residues of 2,4,5-T are present.
      "Regretfully, however, I feel that I should not at any price undertake such tests, or indeed direct anyone in the department ... to conduct such tests.

      "My reasons for this stem from my complete lack of faith in certain government people who, in conjunction with their confraternity in the commercial sphere, tried very hard in a thoroughly despicable way last year to bring discredit upon me, following my criticisms of spraying activities in SA [South Australia] with 2,4,5-T and with amitrole.

      "If any tests conducted by me or anyone in my department yielded positive results of an embarrassing nature to the same people, I fear that another smear campaign would be implemented and that rumours would be concomitantly circulated to the effect that we had 'cooked' our findings.

      "... I trust that you will understand my point of view." (60).


      The links between powerful interest groups inside and outside the scientific community can also help explain the cases of Coulter, Manwell and Smith in Table 1. On a number of occasions pressure was brought to bear on Coulter because of activities undertaken in his 'private capacity'.

      In 1978 the Bayer company brought an action against the Australian Broadcasting Commission, partly over remarks Coulter had made on a television programme regarding one of its products containing the mutagenic pesticide dichlorvos. The action was subsequently dropped about two years later but in the interim pressure was brought to bear on Coulter through the Agricultural Chemical Trade Association and the Director of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, where Coulter worked.

      In 1979 Velsicol Australia complained to the Director of the IMVS about a lecture Coulter had given, in a private capacity, to a Melbourne seminar on pesticides. Coulter had mentioned the way the parent company in the US had handled information on the carcinogenicity of two of their products, chlordane and heptachlor (61). By dismissing Coulter, the managers of the IMVS, whatever their reasons, certainly served the interests of corporate and government bodies which produce and regulate the use of chemicals such as dichlorvos, chlordane and heptachlor.

      Concerning Manwell's case, speaking out against aspects of a government fruit fly spraying programme would hardly seem grounds for great concern. Indeed, a number of individuals had done this in Adelaide prior to the publication of Manwell's letter - but none were scientists. Manwell was a scientist working in a relevant speciality. His letter threatened the rationale for an existing government programme benefiting various political and administrative figures, a programme which previously had had the scientific stamp of approval. It is noteworthy that Manwell's writing of a letter to the newspaper was fiercely criticised by certain conservative South Australian parliamentarians prior to the attempt of academic suppression (9). (In the forestry area also, criticisms by scientists, and criticisms presented in rigorous technical fashion, have induced much stronger responses than less technical criticisms by non-scientists.)

      In the case of Smith, the suppression took place at a much lower level in the scientific hierarchy. Here a vital factor seems to be the prevalence of a perspective underlying much research on pests, which is based on the extension of engineering concepts and linear analysis. In crude terms, this particular pest control paradigm is essentially 'biocidal': the only solution perceived to the problem of pests is applying pesticides. In this view everything else is treated as an externality of secondary importance. The generation and maintenance of this paradigm is strongly influenced by industries profiting from chemical methods of pest control and by government policies legitimising these methods (62). Scientists steeped in this pest control paradigm may not have any direct contacts with the chemical and other industries which support and benefit from research done within the paradigm. But such scientists might well be unsympathetic to research, such as presented in Smith's thesis, which questions commonly held beliefs about effectiveness of the biocidal approach.

      Seen from the point of view of the interests of powerful non-scientific groups, the scientific power structure serves a valuable function of social control. The patronage of politically powerful scientists provides a ready means for outside interests to influence the direction of scientific research and its usefulness to different groups, and to obtain scientific legitimisation for preferred policies. If patterns of control over scientists were less hierarchical, such outside influence would be less easily exercised and less pervasive in effect.

      {The scientific community

      Within the scientific community, the advantage of a power hierarchy to the elites within the hierarchy is obvious. Here I will mention a few relevant characteristics of the power structure as regards the scientific community.

      One means for rising within the scientific hierarchy is via successful research and publication in orthodox channels, often with a modicum of innovation and usually with a high degree of specialisation (63). It also helps to have attended one of the right universities, to work in an appropriate institution, to publish in the right journals, to appear at the right conferences, to be socially acceptable and to be male, white and not too young or too old (64, 25). Those who rise within this hierarchy tend as a matter of course to perpetuate the nature of the hierarchy by emphasising orthodox research and specialisation in their influence on the hiring of scientists, on policies for scientific journals and the like. There is also a strong emphasis in recruitment and promotion in selecting individuals who will conform to ongoing social relationships (25). Within the scientific community, the existence of a power hierarchy may be considered to contribute to the following negative features, among others:

      - pressures to publish, leading to shoddy research, lack of originality, emphasis on trivial topics leading to quick results, stealing of credit for ideas, and fraud;

      - exploitation of secretaries, research and teaching assistants and junior staff;

      - the formation of cliques around politically powerful individuals (65);

      - pressures on leading researchers to enter primarily administrative positions (especially in government and industry);

      - exaggeration of the importance and relevance of results to patrons and the public;

      - emphasis on 'big science' (team research projects involving large, expensive apparatus and a fine division of labour);

      - increase in the use of jargon in scientific journals; lack of the development of a culture of scientific knowledge for non-specialists (66); denigration of the popularisation of science;

      - denigration of teaching in relation to research; exclusion of experience and understanding of research science from science education;

      - favouritism in hiring and promotion.

      Specialisation and disciplinary exclusiveness

      In 1975, Fred and Merrelyn Emery of the Centre for Continuing Education, Australian National University, published a book which, among other things, discussed the neurological effects of television viewing (67). In response to a press article about the book in a university publication (68), six professors and heads of departments (zoology, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, neurobiology, behavioural biology) wrote a letter (69) which strongly criticised the book and abused the authors. The six professors outlined what they considered to be "the current limits of scientifically acceptable investigation of the nervous system" and after criticising the Emerys and their work concluded that the article about the Emerys' book "reflects upon the standards of brain research done in this University by those who are in it for the sake of finding out how a nervous system really works rather than for the support or refutation of a particular social issue". It would seem that the professors' case rested primarily on their collective prestige, since not only had they not read the Emerys' book, but their specific criticisms did not stand up to scrutiny (70). This case illustrates the importance of specialisation and disciplinary exclusiveness in the power structure of science.}



      Areas of suppression

      Karl Z. Morgan. Although not opposed to nuclear energy, Morgan has been consistently outspoken in his criticism of the nuclear industry's safety record. Highly regarded in the scientific community as the 'Father of Health Physics', he was part of the team which developed the atomic bomb. Later he became a director of the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His first brush with the authorities came after he wrote a speech critical of the liquid metal fast reactor. Advance copies were seized and replaced by an edited version. In 1980, he was relieved of his post as professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. According to the World Information Service on Energy, "Sources close to Morgan claim that his dismissal is most probably linked to his continuing criticisms of the nuclear industry."

      John Gofman and Arthur Tamplin. Presented a paper in 1969 challenging current radiation exposure standards. Attempts were made to censor a subsequent report to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Gofman's research grant was terminated. Tamplin stayed on at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, "essentially a non-person." Later he resigned and moved to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

      Thomas Mancuso. Regarded as one of America's most outstanding epidemiologists, Mancuso was awarded a contract by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1964 to study the effects of low-level radiation on the health of workers at the Hanford reprocessing plant in Washington State. In 1974, pressure was put on Mancuso to refute the findings of an independent study which revealed that cancer rates at the plant were five times higher than expected. Mancuso refused and his grant was terminated. His own report estimated that workers at Hanford had 26 per cent higher risk of dying from cancer and that the risk from dying from cancer of the bone marrow was increased by 107 per cent.

      Irwin Bross. Funds cut off after publishing the results of a survey showing that children x-rayed in the womb had a three to four times higher chance of developing leukemia than those who had not been x-rayed.

      Milton Zaret. First experienced attempts to suppress his research when he reported that microwaves, well within the current exposure limits, could adversely affect the behaviour of rats. Later he established a link between microwave exposure and the development of cataracts. His research grant from the Department of Defense was terminated and he was brusquely told that there is 'no such thing as a microwave cataract'. Zaret now alleges that he is blacklisted from receiving funds from the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. In an interview with the environmental magazine Commonweal, he described most government-sponsored research on the effects of microwaves as 'intelligent looks in the wrong direction'. (See The Ecologist, Jan-Feb 1979).

      Robert van den Bosch. Outspoken critic of the pesticide industry. As a result he suffered frequent attempts to discredit him and to oust him from his post at the University of California - none of which were successful. In his book, The Pesticide Conspiracy, he described the pesticide industry as a 'mafia' with "its own lobbyists, front organizations, PR apparatus, and 'hit men'". He also accused the industry of owning "politicians, bureaucrats, researchers, administrators, and elements of the media" and of being quite capable of breaking those who do not conform to its rules. Tragically he died in 1979.


      Specialisation and suppression

      Those who rise within the scientific power structure often do so via a successful research career following orthodox research channels in a fairly narrow specialisation. The bases on which power and prestige rest within the hierarchy depend therefore on the status of specialised research within a recognised discipline. In other words, empire-building in scientific organisations tends to follow disciplinary lines (71). It is no coincidence that the elite body the Australian Academy of Science is a group of specialists.

      Disciplines and specialisms themselves should not be seen as 'natural' divisions of knowledge, but as socially constructed divisions which are established, maintained or altered on the basis of social conventions and institutional arrangements (72). Power struggles within scientific organisations thus have several facets. They involve positions within the hierarchy: struggles for appointment, promotion and research grants. They involve the nature of the hierarchy: struggles over specialism and discipline boundaries, as in the setting up of departments and courses. And they involve the standards and frameworks for knowledge: struggles over paradigms and struggles using paradigms as resources (73). {Positions in the hierarchy, specialisms and paradigms are each used in their own way in this ongoing power struggle.}

      The status of specialised research within a recognised discipline depends in part on the discipline in question being off limits or opaque to non-specialists and to the public. Only to the extent that the essence of the work in a discipline and its specialities is either a special preserve or else not readily grasped by outsiders is it possible for members of the discipline to claim exclusive rights to judge the importance of work in the discipline.

      {One manifestation of this feature of the scientific power structure is demarcation disputes between specialities. One such dispute, between meteorologists and atmospheric chemists, flared during the study of the impact of catalytic destruction of stratospheric ozone by nitrogen and chlorine compounds of human origin (74). On occasions there were ill feelings about the encroachment on the territory of one group by the other. Some of the research work by chemists was criticised by meteorologists for its inadequacies in treating dynamical effects, while some chemists pointed to shortcomings in the meteorologists' treatment of chemistry. Such disputes illustrate the linking of political power and professional status with cognitive standards (35).

      A case in which leading scientists and associated administrators worked to keep the public ignorant about scientific matters is that of the so-called secret of the H-bomb. In 1950, elite physicist Hans Bethe and the Scientific Americandid not protest when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission ordered thousands of copies of an issue destroyed so that several sentences could be removed from Bethe's article about the not-yet-invented H-bomb. Morland in his article about 'The H-bomb secret' concludes that the net effect of secrecy in this area "is to stifle debate about the fundamentals of nuclear policy. Concerned citizens dare not ask certain questions, and many begin to feel that these are matters which only a few initiated experts are entitled to discuss" (75). It would also seem that such secrecy, and the impression that deep scientific and technological understanding is required to comprehend nuclear questions, would enhance the power and prestige of those nuclear scientists who were privy to knowledge and involved in advising on policy. It is revealing that many leading scientists, including noted 'liberals', publicly and privately opposed the publication of Morland's article without even having read it (76).}

      I have suggested that specialisation and disciplinary exclusiveness serve the interests of many who work in traditional disciplines, especially those who rise to positions of power within these disciplines. With this perspective, it is understandable that many scientists in traditional disciplines would be antagonistic to potentially substantial programmes relating to science which are either truly interdisciplinary or popular with students or the public. Interdisciplinary research and teaching constitutes a mode of discourse which by its nature is subversive to that portion of the scientific power structure which is founded on narrow disciplinary research and teaching. Likewise, scientific programmes or ideas that involve the public in active understanding or participation are also a threat to the power structure of science, since the exclusive judgement rights over the development of the discipline are potentially challenged.

      {The classic case in this regard is the intensely antagonistic response of portions of the scientific community, and especially of certain of its elites, to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky (77). These ideas, involving historical analysis with implications for astronomy, geology and anthropology as well as historical disciplines, are interdisciplinary to an extraordinary degree. From the point of view of specialists, Velikovsky is an outsider, and furthermore his studies have generated widespread public interest. It is difficult to explain the response to Velikovsky solely as a consequence of the behavioural norms of the scientific community or of collective commitments to current scientific knowledge. Part of the explanation seems to be that the interdisciplinarity and popularity of Velikovsky's ideas posed a threat to the professional status of scientists which was based on specialisation and control over the ability and methods for proposing and publicising theories (78,79).

      Astronomy is a scientific discipline in which there is an unusual degree of amateur interest and involvement. However, there are strict limits to this involvement, especially when it comes to presenting new ideas. Foremost among those who denounced and suppressed Velikovsky were eminent astronomers and astrophysicists such as Harlow Shapley and Donald H. Menzel. These scientists apparently considered any research work offering potential support to Velikovsky to be off limits. For example, in 1960 a Sydney University professor of physics, V. A. Bailey, then totally unaware of Velikovsky, published research on the existence of net electric charges on planetary bodies. Menzel asked Bailey to revoke his theory since it was hindering efforts by Menzel and others to discredit Velikovsky (77). Even eminent scientists cannot afford to step too far out of line. Famous astrophysicists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe recently have argued for the creation of life in interstellar space and the impact of this on life and disease on earth (80). The response by many leading astrophysicists and grant-giving bodies has been to refuse to consider or allow the testing of the ideas (81).

      Another example is astrology. Leading scientists have made dogmatic and arrogant statements about the falsity of its claims without providing a carefully argued or documented refutation or even understanding the methods and claims of serious astrologers (82). Yet certain areas of study which could be reasonably termed 'empirical astrology', such as the relationship between solar activity and the weather and hence - for example through an effect on the difference between positive and negative ion densities in the atmosphere - upon human behaviour, are now serious areas of research.

      The issue of fluoridation provides an example in which leading scientists have suppressed debate on scientific as well as ethical aspects, and demanded acquiescence to accepted medical-dental policy, not allowing any sort of debate on the issue to be considered legitimate (83). Yet there is growing scientific evidence for the existence of adverse effects on a minority of the population and of exaggeration of the benefits claimed for the procedure (84).

      The above cases are not simply debates over the correctness of ideas, but have involved the exercise of political and organisational power. The cases have involved sackings, denials of publication and jobs, and penalisation of the expression of unaccepted viewpoints. Insights about the scientific community obtained by studying unorthodox areas such as Velikovsky's ideas, astrology and fluoridation do not depend on the ultimate assessment of the validity or usefulness of the theories and ideas involved, at least if it is accepted that science has not obtained any ultimate or final truths.

      Another aspect of specialisation and disciplinary exclusiveness in science is the common denigration of activities which connect with a wider public, such as writing for newspapers or student publications, speaking at public meetings or appearing on radio or television. When it comes to getting appointed to a position or getting a promotion, such activities usually count for nothing, or are negative factors, compared to doing standard research and publishing in standard journals. Indicative of this view is a statement by the head of the Institute where John Coulter (Table 1) worked: "I really respect both Dr. Coulter and his views but the point is that if he is going to do that [conservation activities] at the expense of his official duties I have got to be responsible for this" (85).}

      The Human Sciences Program

      In recent years the environmental area has been a source of scientific research and teaching which is potentially threatening to many parts of the traditional power structure of science. By its nature much environmental research is interdisciplinary. The results of this research often offer a challenge to existing policies and practices of government and industry, and the area is one of high public concern. Such research thus can provide a threat to the hierarchical power structure of science (86). The same strictures apply to the achievement of successful environmental education.

      These points help to explain the cases of Evans, Mann and Springell (Table 1). On the basis of information available to me, the case of Evans provides the best illustration. The Human Sciences Program in which he works has been under attack by various people, especially people in positions of power within traditional departments, from the time it was first proposed in 1970, although the Program has been vindicated in several reviews. The Program is the only one of its kind in Australia in clearly espousing the ideal of holistic education in which a number of different possible approaches to knowledge and understanding, of which science is only one, are studied, with special application to environmental issues. Predictably, some scientists have criticised the lack of a disciplinary base for the Program. Their commitment to specialist, discipline-based perspectives helps to explain their negative evaluation of Evans' research, which is actually above the median for his faculty in terms of quantity.

      Antagonism to the Program was strong from some sections of the University even in the days when there was plenty of government money for nearly everyone in the universities; therefore departmental competition for resources cannot be the sole explanatory factor. The recent years of increasingly tight university budgets seem to have provided the extra pressure which led to the attempt to deny tenure to Evans, the only potentially tenurable member of the Program.

      A study of environmental programmes in U.S. universities concluded that two features were necessary, though not alone sufficient, for their success:

      "1. Substantial or complete control of the faculty reward structure and
      2. Freedom to be innovative in introducing course material, educational programs, work study programs, and curriculum requirements for degrees." (87)


      Such requirements obviously conflict with the maintenance of the current scientific power structure. Therefore, it is not surprising that decision-making groups within the Australian National University have maintained a tight rein over the academic staff of the Human Sciences Program with regard to each of these two features.

      Institutionalised suppression

      I have argued that links between powerful groups inside and outside the scientific community, and vested interests in disciplinary exclusiveness within scientific organisations, are two major features of the power structure of science which lead to suppression of dissident viewpoints. These two features should not be seen simply as bases for overt attempts at suppression such as blocking publications or appointments. The basis for suppression is institutionalised in science through the very nature of scientific research and scientific organisations.

      Corporate and government bodies have an important direct influence on the nature of scientific research. This influence operates through funding of research, through availability of jobs in particular areas and industries, and through the general benefits to scientific elites for setting up research bodies that are designed not to challenge the status quo. Many funds are available for studying fossil fuels and nuclear fission, few for studying the conserver society. Lots of investment is made in microprocessors and other labour-saving technology, little is put into industrial democracy. There is plenty of research into how to make war, almost none into how to make peace.

      {In the case of research areas which are not funded and of research and teaching bodies which are never set up, there is no need at all for overt suppression. For example, at the Australian National University there is a Strategic and Defence Studies Centre - with strong links to the Australian Department of Defence - but no department or unit of peace studies. Nor is there much peace research - at least independent of the military - anywhere in Australia (88).

      An often subtle sort of suppression, illustrated by the Smith case, occurs when corporate and government in<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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