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Seeding science, courting conclusions: Reexamining the intersection of science, corporate cash, and the law


Social scientists have expressed strong views on corporate influences over science, but most attention has been devoted to broad, Black/White arguments, rather than to actual mechanisms of influence. This paper summarizes an experience where involvement in a lawsuit led to the discovery of an unexpected mechanism: A large corporation facing a multibillion-dollar court judgment quietly provided generous funding to well-known scientists (including at least one Nobel prize winner) who would submit articles to "open," peer-reviewed journals, so that their "unbiased science" could be cited in an appeal to the Supreme Court. On balance, the corporation's most effective techniques of influence may have been provided not by overt pressure, but by encouraging scientists to continue thinking of themselves as independent and impartial.

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