Youth Drug Wars and the War On Science

photo from morguefile.com

photo from morguefile.com

A few weeks ago I wrote about NR, a new anti-aging supplement that may just blow Resveratrol out of the water.

So far there are two companies vying to sell it. ChromaDex got on the scene first and brags about the chair of it’s scientific advisory board, Roger Kornberg, winner of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the son of Nobel Laureate Arthur Kornberg. The elder Kornberg was one of the first to study NR (As if the first are always best).

Elysium Health is a startup but has a panel of scientific advisors that include five Nobel Laureates, biotech expert Lee Hood, and famous gerontologist Jim Kirkland .

That these experts are willing to advise these companies is interesting. They risk looking foolish if the supplements don’t pan out.

Why are supplement companies so eager to have experts on their advisory boards? Especially considering what is being called the “War On Science.” The climate change and evolution deniers and those who reject vaccinations and genetically modified food are listed among the foes of science, but the war on science can be extrapolated out to be a war on authority figures.

Real estate agents sold us houses and never saw the bursting of the housing bubble, or did they?

News pundits, who bluster and expound in 30 second sound bites get things wrong and then go on the the next topic as if nothing happened.

Did the banking industry see it’s imminent collapse? If it did, the authorities that let it happen certainly discredited themselves.

What about police who may, or may not, racially profile? Who may justify extreme violence, even against those who are innocent until proven guilty.

It makes me think back to my high school psychology class where we learned about groupthink. YourDictionary.com defines groupthink “as a phenomenon when a group of people get together and start to think collectively…The group is more concerned with maintaining unity than with objectively evaluating their situation, alternatives and options. The group, as a whole, tends to take irrational actions or overestimate their positions or moral rightness.”

It goes on to state “groupthink tends to occur in isolated groups, especially in groups with no clear rules for decision making and in groups where all of the people involved have similar backgrounds. It is destructive to effective thinking.”

It seems to me that the examples I gave above are indicative of groupthink, but what about science?

As a science fiction author who uses science in my novels, I think scientists are not immune to groupthink, but if you have to bet, go with science. Scientists take their theories and paradigms and attack them. They are not trying to prove the theory, they are trying to disprove it. If they cannot disprove it, the theory stands, and it’s not until multiple experiments show otherwise that a theory is cast aside. The Age of Disbelief in the March National Geographic states “For some people, the tribe is more important than the truth; for the best scientists, the truth is more important than the tribe.”

The scientists on the advisory boards for the supplements must see something in them, but then again, they are advisors, not promoters. I just hope that their being associated with supplements that have not been tested on humans, doesn’t give anyone ammunition for the War On Science.

Sources:

The Age of Disbelief by Joel Achenbach, National Geographic March 2015 Issue

Definition of Groupthink on Yourdictionary.com  http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-groupthink.html

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