back to article Academics 'funded by Google' tend not to mention it in their work

A network of academics on Google's payroll just so happens to churn out "independent research" friendly to their sugar daddy's corporate goals. But two-thirds of the time you wouldn't know it, according to the Campaign for Accountability. An ongoing campaign by the non-profit, called the Google Transparency Project (GTP), …

Anonymous Coward

Academics tend not to say who's funding them, especially if it's a pharmaceutical company. Paid research with the "right" results for whoever foots the bill is nothing new and is a practice that has been going on for decades, if not centuries.

This is news ?

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to see here

So its ok to continue then in your opinion Mr E. Schmidt?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing to see here

>So its ok to continue then in your opinion Mr E. Schmidt?

I made no morale judgement, just merely pointed out the practice is widespread in all fields. Of course it should not continue but if AO wishes to tackle this issue then it should be addressed in a broader context otherwise the scope is somewhat narrow and appears churlish.

Academic integrity just as journalistic integrity should mean just that.

By the way it's Dr Schmidt he has done a Ph.D I believe.

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especially if it's a pharmaceutical company

This is the case in sciences and especially in life sciences. One of the reasons for this are a number of past scandals related to funding by Big Oil (the Lead scandals), Big Smoke (a whole lot), Big Agro (some more recent onces), etc.

What Google and the rest of the Valley keep funding are NOT scientific papers. It is public policy "research" and economics "research". These have always been a classic example of prostituting themselves to the highest bidder and they have a long standing tradition not to say who is paying for their services today.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: it's Dr Schmidt he has done a Ph.D I believe.

If he can't help when I'm I'll I think I'll stick with "money grabbing moral vacuum", thanks...

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Anonymous Coward

>It is public policy "research" and economics "research".

They do like to call it science and award BScs in it , they call themselves social scientists or economic scientists which I do find an affront to genuine hard science scientists.

>Big Smoke (a whole lot)

Dr Erhardt Von Grupten Mund

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This is news ?

Yes, it is news and should continue to have the spotlight shown on it until it is fixed.

A big step forward would be to have the various bodies require all peer reviewed/published papers to have the source of their funding disclosed.

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Re: Nothing to see here

>>I made no morale judgement, just merely pointed out the practice is widespread in all fields. Of course it should not continue but if AO wishes to tackle this issue then it should be addressed in a broader context otherwise the scope is somewhat narrow and appears churlish.

Making overly-broad statements doesn't effect change. Specifically trying to chip away at parts of the problem can. And trying to stop one bad thing does not preclude trying to stop a different bad thing. It is normal and efficient for people to expose corruption in the area they work in. Would you equally chastise someone in the defence industry exposing wrongdoing by BAE for not publicising corruption in the pharmaceutical industry? The longer one thinks about what you wrote, the more it appears to be an attempt to deflect criticism or corrective action from Google.

And exposing such things is especially important when we're talking about the ability to manipulate public perception. A company lobbying a politician to vote a certain way is bad enough, and should be stopped. But at least you can say "that is a corrupt politician". A company manipulating academic studies and in control of public perception through search results and popularising or obfuscating particular articles or videos (e.g. YouTube), is in an even more powerful position than politicians.

Bringing this to people's attention is vital.

these companies can change people's perception of the world they live in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing to see here

>And exposing such things is especially important when we're talking about the ability to manipulate public perception.

Manipulating public perception is the job of the Media, who do you think generated this story and for what purposes ?

That's right Oracle who is in turn manipulating the press for their own machiavellian ends, we are fed the stories those with power want us to eat. It's all a game and we are the pawns, here have a Victory Gin and be content.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing to see here

"That's right Oracle who is in turn manipulating the press for their own machiavellian ends"

While true we'll have to notice that Oracle has basically zero visibility in social media, so it's irrelevant what they try to do.

Especially compared to Google and Facebook.

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Devil

That's how it's done

"This means that the corporate puppet master can work academics to create and promote an issue, and then deploy fake "citizen" groups to generate the impression of popular support for its position."

Hmmm ...

Isn't this analogous to how presidential elections are won these days?

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Anonymous Coward

Name...and Shame them...

Lets keep a register as its no different and may actually be even worse than lobbyists and lobbying!

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I've seen...

Microsoft attempt to 'manufacture a synthetic "grassroots" legitimacy for a policy issue' (against Google, as it happens) and now Oracle is coming over all self-righteous! It's a dog against dog battle among these companies, but some dogs are uglier than others...

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Meh

Re: I've seen...

Look! Over there!!! Other bad stuff!!!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've seen...

>Look! Over there!!! Other bad stuff!!!!!!!

Look everywhere and you'll find bad stuff if you want to find it.

Be a prole and content yourself with alcohol and pornography, if you go sniffing about the inner party you'll end up in room 101.

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Devil

Insinuators Anonymous

Heh. So, *actually*, 74% of the people funded by Google say they're funded by Google. That's evil!

The rest of the report is anyone who has received funds from anyone who has *ever* received funds from Google. Minor omitted detail there. So basically if Google ever donates to someone who donates to you, you're a sock puppet. Don't argue.

And whatever you do - don't *read* any of these papers. No, don't make you *own* mind up.

And don't look behind the curtain for the voice telling you Google is evil. Because, unlike Google's funding habits, you *can't* work out who's paying for this one. See Google? This is how you're *meant* to do it. Bwahahahaha!

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Re: I've seen...

"Look! Over there!!! Other bad stuff!!!!!!!"

Heh. Note how you 'just know' this stuff here is 'bad stuff', without reading it, because a guy in a funding mask tells you it is.

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Re: Insinuators Anonymous

From the article: "But two-thirds of the time" funding is not disclosed, which would be about 34% disclosure.

Where did you find this number: "So, *actually*, 74% of the people funded by Google say they're funded by Google."

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Re: Insinuators Anonymous

Er, from the line that followed yours....

and I'd read this story elsewhere where they'd actually included Google's response to this, pointing out the statistical shenanigans.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Insinuators Anonymous

"And whatever you do - don't *read* any of these papers. No, don't make you *own* mind up."

If the author has any skill at all, it's impossible to say if the results have any connection to reality. Or conclusion to the actual results.

Only obviously faked reseach can be seen by reading the paper and Google isn't paying for that, they aren't stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've seen...

"Note how you 'just know' this stuff here is 'bad stuff', without reading it, because a guy in a funding mask tells you it is."

Not because of that, that's a strawman argument.

It's because a "research" created for monetary reasons (=You are getting paid to prove a point, no matter how much lying is needed) is always bad stuff: There's no science in that as it's not even a goal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Insinuators Anonymous

"... included Google's response to this, pointing out the statistical shenanigans."

And you really believe they aren't lying on _that_?

Really, this is pathetic.

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Re: Insinuators Anonymous

"And you really believe they aren't lying on _that_? Really, this is pathetic."

Erm. You're not making a very persuasive argument considering they're all talking about publicly available funding records.

If you want to play that game, how do you know the people hiding their funding from you while making this report aren't lying to you about people who hide their funding making reports full of lies?

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Re: Insinuators Anonymous

"If the author has any skill at all, it's impossible to say if the results have any connection to reality. Or conclusion to the actual results."

To you, maybe. But to another in the field, you can make a name for yourself hunting down false reports and blowing their sh*t up.

These papers aren't going to disappear. They can be dug up at any future point and used to bludgeon Google and the sponsored researcher with. And Google's enemies would pay handsomely to see that happen.

It's much, much more cost effective in a battle to manufacture *real* ammo, not stuff that looks impressive but blows up in your face later.

So, I'll sit and wait for these researcher reports to be disproven. It shouldn't be hard - lots of people hate Google. I mean, wouldn't *you* like to prove Google is lying instead of just telling everyone they are?

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Re: I've seen...

"Not because of that, that's a strawman argument. It's because a "research" created for monetary reasons (=You are getting paid to prove a point, no matter how much lying is needed) is always bad stuff"

But... isn't saying the researchers are paid to lie, while also being unable to show that anything produced here *has* been a lie, an evidenceless construction, aka a strawman argument?

Out of interest, how many years need to pass after a Google donation to a public science body, before researchers sponsored by that body aren't considered to be 'bad stuff'? And by your own measure, is the sponsored report in this article telling the truth?

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Anonymous Coward

Transparency

Purely in the interests of transparency, who is funding the Google Transparency Project?

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Joke

Re: Transparency

Alphabet, so nothing to do with Google.

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Moral of the story

So, the moral of the story is that if you have findings that will benefit a large corporation, be sure to get them to, em, sponsor you before you publish said findings.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Moral of the story

Better still, get them to sponsor you to provide 'correct' results and make lot of money for free!

Because research is research and who cares about who pays for it, right?

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Anonymous Coward

100% of security researchers

appear to be on Apple payroll and not disclosing it...

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Coat

Steady now using that piccy, you'll have Lars Ulrich claiming copyright infringement and demanding money!

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Black Helicopters

Master Of Puppets

Interesting choice of accompanying pic, El Reg...

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Anonymous Coward

Go Figure

"Ammori, co-manager of the Ammori Group, "a law firm and internet-law consulting practice whose clients include Google", helpfully chipped in with a 2016 paper arguing that the concept of "neutrality" was valid if applied to telecoms companies"

Which is just who (ISPs) were subject to and who were exempt from (Google, Facebook) the Net Neutrality bill that was dropped after Trump took office. The Trump administration should have gotten credit for dropping the bill, instead of the usual manufactured hysteria from the tech illiterates.

Now, if they'll just address the issue in a rational manner........

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Unhappy

Question 1 for any paper I read is....

Who funded it and who benefits from its conclusions.

They may be right, but look very carefully at how the questions were phrased, what data was ignored etc.

Remember in con-sultancy the answer is yes (unless you want it to be no).

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Re: Question 1 for any paper I read is....

One problem here is that it's rare that the datasets ren't available for inspections by other researchers. Economics is one field where that's at least occasionally discussed though changing that has been hard, to say the least. You can fsck the Hell off before a pbarma or agro firm will let you at there datasets. After I could no longer function as a field engineer, I went back to the uni and degreed in econometrics so this happens to be one of my concerns whenever I study a research paper.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Question 1 for any paper I read is....

"One problem here is that it's rare that the datasets ren't available for inspections by other researchers."

Of course they aren't: Anyone who isn't blind could see that the researcher is lying in the paper if the data was available.

Often whole paper is secret, only (totally made-up) conclusions are public: It nicely fends the criticism off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Question 1 for any paper I read is....

Yes pretty much every security story here is written by some researcher nobody has ever beard off, but as long as it fits the agenda, nobody cares.

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Anonymous Coward

Hearts and Minds

Control the message, control the medium, control the "opinion". People are "joiners", show the Corporate Opinion you want is the one "everyone has" and you've won most of the battle.

Claim its "science" but provide no actual link between actual results and the conclusion/Policy and that shuts down most of the rest.

Ignore and ridicule those who ask the "wrong" questions and you're all set. Politicians are afraid to counter you because they don't dare face such a large Spin Doctor setup.

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Anonymous Coward

Just Another Brick in the Wall

You don't have to agree with Google or with Comcast to know this song is not about us.

Keep reminding us that when our corporate overlords fight, we get trampled along with the truth.

Thanks Dan.

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