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Is there any legitimate reason to prohibit research?

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  • #16
    There's nuthin' at all here about government acquiring a monopoly on any type of research. I think one of da things that's necessary to stay mentally wake is to do your own research and become familiar with a topic before forming a hard-and-fast opinion about it. If yeh do that, yeh realize that:

    Government FUNDS research. Research is actually performed by regular citizens at universities, research corporations, and other places. That's da opposite of a monopoly.

    Government collects data through data clearinghouses and reporting requirements tied to receiving government funds. Used to be we called this "accountability" in conservative circles before the fall. If yeh receive taxpayer funds, yeh have to report data that can be used to evaluate performance and conditions that the taxpayers are interested in. Receive policing funds, we want to know how you're doin' on crime in your area, so that we can do research on how to better direct our funds in the future.

    Anybody can use data which has been stripped of identifying information to maintain privacy. This enables non-government funded researchers to explore their own research questions or falsify other work.

    Da only research where there's a government monopoly is certain kinds of defense department research, like nuclear weapons design. Even that is typically done at national laboratories which are partnerships between da federal government and state universities.

    So da notion of "government monopoly" is just a fiction, eh? An alternate reality. Da fact is government-funded research has a high degree of oversight from folks across da political spectrum, and tends to be far less biased overall than private sector research, particularly on sensitive topics.

    What it comes down to is this. Da only reason to oppose research on firearms safety is if you believe in your heart that private ownership of firearms is truly a danger to innocent fellow citizens which cannot be mitigated, and you just don't care. Like cigarette manufacturers, yeh don't want anybody to learn da truth, because if they knew the truth then they might object to your making a profit off of killing people. You're quite right, that is more than a teeny bit of conflict of interest on da gun manufacturers' part, eh? Which is why they might behave like cigarette makers, and fund a lobbying and misinformation effort stunning in its lack of honor.

    But all of da responsible gun owners I know are honorable folks who recognize that conflict of interest on da part of manufacturers and therefore are smart about it. They support research, because they know responsible gun ownership is safe, and they believe da research will show that. They also are opposed to irresponsible gun ownership and violence, and they are happy to have research which would help prevent or mitigate those things.

    Beavah
    (This message has been edited by Beavah)

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    • #17
      >>So da notion of "government monopoly" is just a fiction, eh? An alternate reality. Da fact is government-funded research has a high degree of oversight from folks across da political spectrum, and tends to be far less biased overall than private sector research, particularly on sensitive topics.

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      • #18
        If you think you know of an instance of such influence you are honor-bound to report that and make sure the liars are exposed and punished.

        Everything I did for decades with the federal government was politically-sensitive, EVERYTHING, and I was NEVER told or asked or even given a vague hint that I needed to do anything other than to report what I thought was the objective truth. Some of these projects covered more than 20 years of work, contentious meetings, and court challenges and the ONLY time I ever detected a hint of bias was from some state agency people in the opposition. Even the DOJ people were explicit: do NOT inject any kind of bias - ONLY state our results objectively. The only instructions I EVER got from the top brass was to tell them the honest truth.

        If the agency you work for does not operate that way, I don't see how you can continue the position without giving up your own professional integrity. If someone is trying to sway your findings, you are honor bound to put your neck on the line to expose that action and see that the DOJ or some other authority corrects the situation.

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        • #19
          >>The only instructions I EVER got from the top brass was to tell them the honest truth.

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          • #20
            My experience was the same as Packie and I have worked at the Fed, State, and Local level. Some stuff very politically sensitive but if you were an "expert" you always provided your info carefully, objectively (as possible--no one is perfect), and carefully. The ones who were "hacks", one way or another, never lasted.

            I believe in open research, PEER REVIEWED, and openly debated. Not a perfect system--it is a human one after all--but it worked pretty well thus far. You only suppress research if you are afraid of results.

            And you never know. Back when I was a University Researcher more than once was I flabbergasted to find my results were the opposite of what I thought they were. We used to joke that if we found killing trees and driving cars would fix global warming than we would make the call and publish the findings. And probably never get tenure. But thats another story.

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            • #21
              What? I agree with Beav?

              Yes, it is idiotic that we aren't even allowed to collect data on the topic. As a result, we are blind as to what the issues are, let alone their causes.

              That fact is largely the result of lobbying by the NRA, gun manufacturers.

              What's even more comical is how the pro-gun lobby goes completely ape&$^% when the government (without data that the pro-gunners didn't want us to get) has to go out and do something to stop this nonsense.

              How about a simple Draconian law?

              If you are convicted of committing a crime, and the crime was committed with a firearm in your possession, the only available penalty for said crime is death.

              That should cut things down after a year or so.

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              • #22
                "But of course they didn't ban any research. They just banned spending tax dollars on it."

                So if the DNC, goes and pays for the collection of data on firearms in the US, do you think the NRA would accept any conclusions made from the data.

                Heck no, the NRA would claim that the data is skewed.

                Conversely, if the NRA collected the data, would the DNC believe the results ... nope ...

                The fact is, there has to be an independent collection path...the medical community and the CDC would probably be a pretty good path.

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                • #23
                  Government FUNDS research. Research is actually performed by regular citizens at universities, research corporations, and other places. That's da opposite of a monopoly.

                  Nah, that's a monopoly. You're looking at the government as the customer of the researchers, but if you have a situation where there is only one customer, then they're not a customer, they're an employer. The only one. See professional sports leagues for examples of monopolies recognized because of their control over employment rather than prices.

                  Anyway, you're the one who brought up the notion that we had to fund this reasearch with tax money because private researchers couldn't do it because of health care legislation. Why can these "regular citizens" get around these laws if they're working for the government, but not when they're working for someone else? Seems they need some sort of de facto deputization as government agents for that to happen, eh? So they're paid by the government and granted special powers by the government. That means they're not "regular citizens" and their research can't be considered independant.

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                  • #24
                    ... I was NEVER told or asked or even given a vague hint that I needed to do anything other than to report what I thought was the objective truth.

                    I don't doubt that for a moment. But that's not how the bias creeps in, especially when it's research grants.

                    A few years ago, when I briefly had more money than sense, I started the project of building a house on a 5 acre parcel outside of town. That of course requires lots of permits, studies and what not. One of the biggies is a biologists environmental study. My builder had a firm he recommended. They were scrupulously honest and definitely would not bend the truth at my order. I can attest to that as it was a fairly contentious meeting when I explained to them that I thought it was incorrect (and a bad idea) to describe our pet domestic ducks as "migratory waterfowl." But they did approach the study from the standpoint of finding a way for the project to go forward. Their mindset was that we were building a house on the property and their job was to identify any mitigations necessary to do so in an environmentally responsible manner.

                    The biologists at the county planning department had a different mindset. Their mindset was that development should be limited and their job was to find reasons why a house could not be built on the property. Would it surprise you to know that there were disagreements between their biologists and my biologists? (and as far as any dishonesty goes, there later was a minor scandal when one of the county folks had to leave her job after a judge caught her in some highly questionable testimony on a case involving one of my neighbors.)

                    Two sets of fully credentialed, respected professionals, neither being intentionally dishonest or responding to overt pressure from their paymasters, but both disagreeing because they came into the situation with different mindsets, biases, and objectives. And let me reiterate, in both cases, they were chosen by their employers (me and the county respectively) because of those pre-existing mindsets, biases and objectives.

                    If I control grant money for climate research and I believe in anthropogenic global warming, I don't need to pressure the researches who get the grant money, I just need to give it to Dr. Michael Mann. And if I believe in AGW, I see no problem with that - he's a credentialed scientist. Sure, there's been some controversy and some people say he's a fraud, but it's easy to dismiss those criticism as politically motivated because they disagree with his position.

                    OTOH, if I'm an AGW skeptic, I still don't need to pressure any researchers into finding what I want. I just have to make sure the grants go to someone like Dr. Tim Ball. And if I do think AGW is a load of hoey, then I'd believe Dr. Ball was a perfectly legitimate choice - like Dr. Mann, he is also a credentialed scientist. Of course there's some controversy over his views on the climate as well, but it's easy to dismiss those criticism as politically motivated because they disagree with his position.

                    Control over the money means you control the results. I don't need to pressure the artists to get the sort of pictures I want hanging on my walls. I just have to pick and choose which artists I think are qualified. And after all, as the guy responsible for what's hanging on the wall, isn't that my job?



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                    • #25
                      I was always told that the American people were the customers. The agency with the funding was their agent. Why do you view things in a 'me vs them' way?
                      In many cases, I received the funds from an agency or department of the federal government. Then as PI, I either assigned federal employees various duties to complete the work or, more often, contracted the work out through competitive bids to a variety of contractors. Some of the contractors were companies with their own employees and some of the contractors were individuals. In some projects there were federal employees, state employees from as many as three states, as many as 4 different contractors or contracting companies, and up to 5 different universities involved.
                      If the funding had come from a private business (and it did in a couple of cases) we operated the same way as we did when the funding came down from Congress. I fail to see the element of 'monopoly' in this.

                      In the case of this thread, if the NRA wanted my old agency to do some kind of research, we would have gladly accepted their funding and used our unique access to facilities or data to achieve an agreed-upon role. We occasionally DID something like this for chemical companies and engineering firms. Other teams I associated with got MOST of their funding from private industry. The only limitations had to do with security and related factors. We were ALWAYS instructed - in fact it was a top priority - to avoid conflict of interest.
                      I think you need to find something better than a claim of some kind of 'monopoly' in order to explain your opposition to research.

                      Edit: "Control over the money means you control the results."
                      Your squabble was really with the way a regulation is interpreted and applied, and, I suppose, the definition of migratory waterfowl. Around these parts, we have resident geese year round which NEVER migrate anywhere and are nothing but a da** nuisance, IMHO. But they are, nevertheless classified as 'migratory' for regulatory purposes. Once in a while, I see individuals like you clashing with the state natural resource people in a way with which you can probably sympathize. Me too.

                      But this is not research. This is merely a regulatory action.

                      When I was given funding for a project, when that funding arrived in my operating account, I had control over the funding. I had control over the research. And what we did was to do the work just as required by the project description. It was up to all parties to go through as many drafts as necessary to come to agreement on the final project description. But once we agreed, the funding source (ultimately Congress in many cases) had no further interaction until the work was done. In fact, only our top administrators were even ALLOWED to talk to Congressmen. If any of us had even a casual contact we had to write a memo and get the content of that contact into the record.

                      I think you're confusing 'research' like that funded by the tobacco industry with the subject of this topic. I promise you...if the NRA was willing to fund CDC or DOJ or whoever, to do this research, those agencies would embrace that opportunity. The NRA would get exactly what the scope of work required in return for the funding.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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                      • #26
                        gov. agencies such as the Nat'l Science Foundation are independent of Congress. True that they get their funds out of the Congressional budget (as submitted by the Prez), but I'm unaware of any forbidden areas other than stem cell research.

                        No matter how qualified, a researcher can't start researching just anything. His topic has to be approved by the funders such as NSF. If the proposal counters their beliefs, there is a good chance it won't be funded. Post research peer review may also quash results from seeing the light of day.

                        I'm all for gun use research. For instance, how did untrained (not counting French & Indian War experience) colonial militias hold off the British for three years until France came and helped.
                        I'd also like to see more research on the downside of mental health drugs and treatment programs

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                        • #27
                          How do you validate the validity of the Data..

                          Gun Haters say 9 out of 10 Americans support Gun Control
                          Gun Lovers say 9 out of 10 Americans are against Gun Control

                          Which Statement is Factual?
                          How would you know unless you contacted and questioned every single person polled and Unless you Knew What was recorded as their answers.

                          Researchers will get the results they want..

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                          • #28
                            "His topic has to be approved by the funders such as NSF."

                            That's not a restriction on his topic. It's a restriction on what he can do with other peoples' money. If only there were more such restrictions.

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                            • #29
                              Gun Haters say 9 out of 10 Americans support Gun Control
                              Gun Lovers say 9 out of 10 Americans are against Gun Control

                              Which Statement is Factual?

                              Neither, obviously. Why would yeh believe data from a lobbyist group on either side with a clear conflict of interest?

                              That's why yeh pay for independent, scientific research. From multiple researchers, with public access to data, and peer review.

                              Yeh can get accurate results through scientific survey analysis and statistics without goin' and askin' every individual. But yeh have to turn to a professional like Nate Silver instead of a lobbyist like Karl Rove.

                              Beavah

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                              • #30
                                As I noted earlier, non-politically charged research is done and judged appropriately. Anything that is political in nature has filters from funding sources and the review/publication process. For both, there is bias toward the left's ideas about the way that the world operates. Any federally funded research will have a bias that guns are bad and needs to be controlled. They will not fund research that is likely to show otherwise. Any results that do not support the favored conclusion that guns are bad and should be controlled. Contrary results will either not be published or will be roundly attacked by the left. Have witnessed it my entire life. There is no need to do the studies. They will conclude that there is no reason for a private citizen to ever own a gun. It may be ok to shoot on federal land as long as the guns stay in government control. That will save the taxpayers $10 M.

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