ethical camouflage

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Glenn Hampson

Mar 21, 2022, 12:12:47 PMMar 21

Hi OSIers,


For your Monday inbox, here are two important articles well worth a read/skim:


  1. Courtesy of Bryan Alexander, here’s a story ( about the recent dust-up over the conduct of ResearchFish. If I’m understanding this correctly, ResearchFish is the agency tasked by UKRI with collecting impact data from researchers (as part of the new-ish REF requirements?). When a researcher tweeted recently that he didn’t know what ResearchFish was, the ensuing comments on Twitter were both funny and, apparently, offensive to ResearchFish, which then responded by saying ““We understand that you’re not keen on reporting on your funding through Researchfish but this seems quite harsh and inappropriate. We have shared our concerns with your funder.” So, um, there’s that, and also,


  1. From the LA Review of Books, here’s a brilliant new article on “hyper-ethics” ( by Mario Biagioli and Alain Pottage describing (among other things) the emerging practice of “ethical camouflage” in science policy; the subversion of open rules to deliberately harm instead of help research and policy making; our tendency to make “open and transparent” so paramount that we invite criticism (including political labels like “junk science”) of any research that is NOT “adequately” transparent; and how scientific consensus can be twisted to look like “secret science” which has been inadequately vetted by the public. [Mario---I apologize that this synopsis is inadequate; there’s a LOT to unpack in your essay!] Here are the concluding paragraph’s to Mario’s essay:


[What are the common denominators of this new approach to science policy?]: the pivot from scientific content to ethical norms, and the radicalization of such norms to the point of turning them against their original function. We have also remarked how this amounts to more than turning ethics upside down. Corporate interests vampirize the public’s grievances (in particular, its calls for transparency, openness, and fairness), absorbing and performatively mimicking those grievances to give their own agenda a shiny veneer of morality, a cover for its absence. The norms of the adversaries are appropriated and then turned against the adversaries themselves, as is happening in the curriculum transparency movement….


Another common denominator: parasitism. Not just ordinary appropriation but highly efficient targeted appropriation of the host’s resources. Deregulation advocates not only turn their adversaries’ norms against them and harm the public interest while pretending to defend it, but they do so economically, by skillfully maximizing the bang and minimizing the buck. Mobilizing ethics to change rule-making protocols is a lot cheaper than fighting epistemic controversies; criticizing science is infinitely easier than producing an alternative science; playing scientist on TV to make it look like there is no scientific consensus on global warming is remarkably less time-consuming and skill-intensive than becoming a scientist; demanding data and calculations is a lot less resource-intensive than producing them from information available in the public domain, and while many people can “stop stuff,” far fewer can produce knowledge. The problem with conspiratorial thinking is not so much that it is false but that it is extraordinarily efficient. It’s a cheap way of wasting the world.


Best regards,





Glenn Hampson
Executive Director
Science Communication Institute (SCI)
Program Director
Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI)



Anthony Watkinson

Mar 22, 2022, 9:32:37 AMMar 22
to, Glenn Hampson
I got a 404 errpr when I clicked on the first link


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