The truth about science


I never meant to kill anybodyís kid.

I donít even believe science should be used for abortions.

So I certainly donít believe in fudging tests to make chemicals and other products look safe when they really arenít.

But once you start down that dark road, it is hard to stop, especially when you have a boss like mine who wonít just fire me, but will build a case so it looks like Iím the one who thought up the whole scheme in the first place.

I didnít star out intending to be some corporate water boy, adjusting research so that some paid-off government inspector could pass products he knows and I know arenít safe.

I actually felt proud when I got into science, seeing it as something pure and truthful, something that did not have to rely on to Great Spirit or incantation.

I saw myself as finding the cure for some great disease or unlocking some great mystery of the universe.

I even liked my boss when I first me him since he claimed he loved science, too.

Maybe I should have said ďNoĒ when my boss asked me to adjust some of the numbers in my study.

We needed a minor change so that the federal inspector could give us the green light to sell our product.

My study, this inspector said, needed to counter other studies that said the plastic we used to make our baby bottles could cause cancer in kids.

If the government had a good report, it would cancel out the bad report and we could go to market.

My boss made it clear that if we didnít get clearance, our company could go broke, which meant he would have to let me go.

It was such a minor change, I told myself I need not feel guilty.

What were a few numbers anyway?

Scientists routinely averaged things and thatís all I was doing.

If I could get my boss off my back, this was a good thing.

After all, I told myself, it isnít the responsibility of a corporate scientist like me to make products safe. Itís up to the federal inspectors. If they have doubts, they should say so. And they certainly shouldnít be taking bribes from people like my boss to say things that arenít true.

Then the media got a hold of the thing, reporting the death of kids.

The reports showed how we changed the numbers so that we could confuse legislators into thinking that the other studies might be wrong, that our product might be saving lives instead of taking them.

I felt so guilty I nearly quit, and told my boss I ought to testify in the investigation.

My boss said this would put the company at risk of being sued. Besides, this really was all my fault since Iím the person who fudged the numbers.

If I testified, my boss would have to testify against me.

I bit my tongue and let it go.

After all I had a family of my own to consider, and they didnít need me in jail.

If anyone needed to go to jail it was the government inspectors who let us get away with it.

After all since is science and all the inspector had to do was check our findings. No one would have died if he had.

Iím a small fry, I told myself. I canít be held accountable for all the sins of the world.

Of course, the same government officials who closed their eyes to the flaws in our study, decided to crack down on the company, once the media woke up and pointed the finger of guilt a them.

As promised my boss and the company blamed me. I got canned with promises of worse later.

Maybe I deserved it, too.

Maybe I knew deep down that the responsibility really was mind.

After all, science is about telling the truth.

But I didnít go to jail.

Society doesnít put corporate murderers behind bars.

In fact, my boss decided he still needed me and took me under his wing when he got a new job.

America being America, skills like mind are always valued.

No matter how much we violate the principles of science, someone will always hire us to do it again.

I know when my boss asks, Iíll lie like I did before, causing even more death, and I wonít feel any where near as guilty as I used to.

As I said, once you start down this road, itís hard to turn back.



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