A question for those who believe that scientists have a nearly irresistible incentive to produce dodgy, alarmist arguments about health and environmental risks – and thus, cannot be trusted on those matters: How do we explain the scientific consensus about the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, vaccines, and food irradiation in the teeth of politicized public sentiment to the contrary?
Obviously, scientists face all sorts of personal and professional incentives to produce certain kinds of research outcomes. But if those incentives were overwhelmingly running in one direction – Left – we should see a pattern regarding scientific consensus in policy disputes where political tempers run high. And we don’t. The fact that the Left offers complaints that mirror those on the Right suggests that the story is muddy.