Scientific Integrity at Risk in Fracking Policy Debate

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Written by Martha McCluskey

How does scholarly expertise determine the arguments?

On top of the alarming influence of non-transparent money in politics, we need to pay more attention to the influence of undisclosed money in scholarship about law and public policy.

Many prominent law scholars get funded by outside non-academic interests for speeches and writing, without much scrutiny of the possible impact on substance.  Richard Epstein, for example, consulted for  the pharmaceutical industry while serving on a university ethics committee and writing scholarship arguing against tighter conflict of interest rules in health research — though unlike many scholars he is relative willing to proclaim his market success.  A new book, Predator Nation, by Charles Ferguson (Director of the Inside Job documentary on the financial crisis) includes a fascinating chapter about conflicting interests of scholars influential in economic policy.

As the debate over “fracking” heats up in New York, SUNY is contending with a controversy over the University at Buffalo’s relationship to gas industry interests.   See my posting for the Center for Progressive Reform, where I’m a member scholar