Dr. Terence Kealey and the Myth of Scientific Objectivity

ByCrossFitAugust 11, 2019

“I think there is a vast myth that scientists are somehow objective and honest,” Dr. Terence Kealey said during a presentation at a CrossFit Health event at CrossFit Headquarters on March 9, 2019.

Kealey is a former vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, a professor of clinical biochemistry, a scholar affiliated with the Cato Institute, and author of the book Breakfast Is a Dangerous Meal. During his presentation, he discussed the myth of scientific objectivity, drawing examples widely from history as well as his personal experiences within many of the most reputable scientific institutions.

People will “very quickly rationalize and create a little paradigm to justify what they believe is true,” Kealey explained, emphasizing with a bit of wry humor that scientists are, in fact, people and engage in the kind of data-distorting practices he then went on to describe. “We commit to paradigms, and then we bend the data to it.”

The problem of science’s commitment to paradigms, Kealey claimed, is exacerbated by several factors, including government involvement and chummy funding practices whereby support is given only to those intellectual allies with whom one agrees.

“Now, you get money not for being right; you get money for satisfying the prejudices of the people who sit on the committees in the NIH and NSF,” Kealey said.

To illustrate the problem of government involvement, Kealey detailed the forces that lent longevity to Ancel Keys’ false diet-heart and lipid hypotheses. Generations of doctors were taught the faulty lipid hypothesis “because Ancel Keys’ rebuttal of his own data was not accepted by the federal government,” Kealey claimed.

Regarding scientists’ tendency to want to give money to others who confirm their beliefs, Kealey said simply, “This is swagger science.”

To read a full transcription of the presentation, click here.