Cover image for Hush, hush : the dark secrets of scientific research
Hush, hush : the dark secrets of scientific research
Jordan, Michael, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Firefly books, [2003]

Physical Description:
192 pages : illustrations (some color), portraits (some color) ; 26 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
Q172.5.E77 J67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Recent scientific and technological discoveries have produced a stunning amount of unintended consequences. For every success there are tens or hundreds of failures. Some of these failures are harmless. Many are not and are kept secret for as long as possible.

Hush Hush is a compelling examination of the most notorious cases of scientific malfeasance ever exposed. You'll discover how these tragedies occurred, who was responsible, how they could have been prevented. And what actions have been taken to avoid a recurrence.

The book takes you behind-the-scenes of 40 cases, including:

Bhopal chemical disaster The fluoride debate Love Canal cover-up Global warming and the selective use of data Agent Orange Tuskegee Syphilis study

This well-documented and profusely illustrated book challenges government, business, and the scientists themselves. The responsible parties are taken to task for covering-up serious health hazards in the interests of national security, corporate survival, and personal prestige.

Is science out of control? Read Hush Hush and keep in mind that for every exposed scientific secret, there are many more still under wraps and kept in the shadows.

Author Notes

Michael Jordan is a television commentator on a range of medical issues. He has participated in World Health Organization conferences and acted as a spokesperson for medical organizations
Dominique Lapierre is an author and journalist

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The law of unintended consequences plays a major role in scientific research, sometimes for good, often for ill. Jordan describes 40 cases in the latter category and the misguided efforts made by government and industry to cover them up. Some, such as the infamous Bhopal disaster and the tragedy of thalidomide babies, have become notorious in spite of efforts to downplay them. Others, such as deaths resulting from the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos, are little known except to those directly involved. Jordan's examples range from dangers of tobacco and global warming to breast implants and space debris. In some cases, the "cover-ups" seem to result from simple ignorance or good intentions gone awry. The growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a case in point; others, such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on humans, are unequivocally evil. A few, such as dangers of genetically altered foods, are far from resolved and at least one of the author's "hazards," the government's alleged cover-up of UFOs, is simply silly. With 40 topics in less than 200 heavily illustrated pages, there is little in-depth treatment for any. However, Web site references with each topic allow readers to explore further on their own. Entertaining reading. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General readers. C. G. Wood formerly, Eastern Maine Technical College



Introduction We are, by nature, secretive creatures. Hiding certain things away from the eyes and ears of others is one of the quirks of human behavior. In this we are by no means alone in the animal kingdom -- birds often hide their nests in the densest parts of trees, and dogs covertly bury their bones. According to the earliest recorded evidence discovered, the desire for secrecy seems to have been ingrained in us. Archeological discoveries from the Ice Age appear to confirm that our Neolithic ancestors created special closed sanctuaries in which their most important rituals were held. Caves in southwest France, decorated more than 15,000 years ago with elaborate paintings and esoteric designs, are often virtually inaccessible, even to this day, and we can guess that the intention was to keep certain .activities known only to those holding the reins of authority. The desire for power is indeed one of the fundamental values of secrecy because, through its application, a limited number of people can generate fear of the unknown in the minds of the majority, thus better exercise control. Much of the secrecy we encounter and follow in our lives today is of no great consequence to the world at large and we often maintain it to protect our personal interests. Just like the dog with its bone or the bird in the bush, we lock our front doors to prevent unwanted intrusion and keep our bank account numbers and the passwords on our computers to ourselves for obvious reasons. Secrecy, however, can always be misused and abused. It can be made a device to screen activities from public gaze because of a wish to hide away conduct that would be disapproved of -- that could perhaps become the object of sanctions were it to be more widely advertised or held open to inspection. Nowhere can this be truer than in matters of scientific secrecy. Until the 1960s, most scientific discovery and progress remained bathed in a somewhat rosy light. We trusted scientists; they were honest people working on our behalf to make our lives and our world safer and richer; they eliminated many of our life-threatening diseases and made our cars, ships and airplanes safer and more efficient. But in today's world, we are a little more cynical, and with good reason. This is not to say that scientists are corrupt as a breed, but history has shown us that not all scientists are altruistic angels either. The scientific establishment can be bought and its integrity can be corrupted, although money is nor always the driving motive. Scientists can be persuaded to use their expertise in a particular, nor necessarily aboveboard, way out of a sense of political or national loyalty or for ideological reasons. Secrecy in science may not always be strictly ethical, but neither does it necessarily result in harm to others. In some instances, however, the desire to cover up scientific activities is seen -- when exposed to scrutiny -- to be blatantly against the interests of society, and this can result in civil actions and even criminal charges being brought against those conspiring to maintain the secrecy. When it is misused or abused, such secrecy often reflects an unreasonable desire for profit or a wish to conceal errors of judgment. Governments and major corporations alike display a willingness to hold on to as much knowledge as they can, on an exclusive basis, because it gives them the advantage of making use of scientific discoveries. Perhaps the most classic illustration of this during the last century has been the Manhattan Project in the U.S. During World War II, the United States learned that German scientists were working on a program developing the use of atomic fission with the intention of producing a nuclear bomb. So alarming was this prospect, and so essential was the need for America to gain the advantage in the arms race. that it orchestrated a vast weapons program innocuously called the Manhattan Project, which involved thousands of scientists and technicians in a level of previously unparalleled secrecy. In the past, when issues of civil rights were not as prominent in many countries as they are today, it was comparatively easy to maintain secrecy. Even now, in the twenty-first century, secrecy is still widespread under certain regimes. Perversely, however, the desire for openness and fairness has, in some respects, actually encouraged secrecy. We can see instances in which governments and corporations have done their utmost to keep certain information under cover because of the perceived threat of litigation. These days, where damages are sought for malpractice or negligence that result in suffering being inflicted on large numbers of third parties, the compensation sums ordered by the courts can run into billions of U.S. dollars. Such punitive judgments have already bankrupted a number of large organizations. Corporations have increasingly turned to legal devices in order to protect themselves. Among these is a reliance on the confidentiality of the attorney-client privilege, although the loophole in some nations is slowly being closed. A fraud-crime exception to such a right is now on the statute books of several countries, which allows documents to become public. In a case against tobacco companies in the United States a few years ago, a judge in Minnesota declared that the defendants had "blatantly abused" attorney-client privilege in withholding information that was potentially incriminating and ordered that more than 30,000 documents be turned over to the court. The state attorney for the prosecution commented at the time that a "40-year wall of fraud and secrecy has been breached...this has far reaching implications for the defendants and their officers and lawyers." Nonetheless, large corporations can tie up proceedings for years in order to delay rulings and postpone facing liabilities. Time is sometimes of the essence in revealing secrecy. Coverups, particularly by governments and military authorities, are often introduced out of concern for national security. Many incidents from World War II have only recently come to light because of the declassification of millions of confidential and secret documents half a century later. Fifty years may seem a long time to hide away sensitive wartime information, but it pales in comparison to the timescale of some other illustrations of secrecy. Although clearly not a scientific issue, it is only during the last decade or so that the Vatican archives of the Roman Catholic Church's part in the trials of the Papal Inquisition more than 500 years ago have been opened to inspection, so sensitive is the nature of some of the material. Any book reviewing scientific secrecy in the twenty-first century inevitably has its limitations, because the hush-hush cases that have come to light in the courts and through the media do not, of course, represent the full story. If a coverup is effective, it remains clandestine and we never get to hear about it. Unfortunately, we can only examine those cases on which the whistle has been blown. Excerpted from Hush Hush: The Dark Secrets of Scientific Research by Michael Jordan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 8
Introductionp. 11
1 The Secret of Success: Big business keeping the public in the darkp. 15
1.1 The Bhopal Chemical Disasterp. 18
1.2 Asbestosp. 24
1.3 Tobacco, Health and Liesp. 28
1.4 Chlorpyrifos: A Killer With a Secretp. 32
1.5 Cell Phones: How Safe Are We?p. 35
1.6 Deep Vein Thrombosis in Economy Classp. 38
1.7 Vehicle Safety Secretsp. 42
2 Doctor Knows Best: Medical ethics under the knifep. 45
2.1 The Thalidomide Tragedyp. 48
2.2 Dow Corning Breast Implantsp. 51
2.3 Superbugs and Antibioticsp. 54
2.4 Ritalin and Hyperactivityp. 57
2.5 Gulf War Syndromep. 59
2.6 Fluoride: Are We Being Conned?p. 62
3 A Question of National Security: "Top secret" coverupsp. 65
3.1 The Mull of Kintyre Disasterp. 68
3.2 The Manhattan Projectp. 72
3.3 Smallpox: How Ready Are We?p. 76
3.4 Agent Orangep. 79
3.5 Radiation Exposurep. 83
3.6 UFOs--A Government Fabrication?p. 87
4 Power Corrupts: Political gain takes precedence over public interestsp. 89
4.1 Nuclear Power Plant Disastersp. 92
4.2 Is There a Nuclear Power Plant Coverup?p. 98
4.3 PCB Poisoning of North Americap. 102
4.4 The Love Canalp. 106
4.5 The GM Food Debatep. 110
5 A Green and Red Herring: The separate truths of governments and greensp. 115
5.1 Global Warmingp. 118
5.2 The Silencing of Bjorn Lomborgp. 121
5.3 Sweden's Biggest Environmental Disasterp. 124
5.4 Deforestationp. 128
5.5 The Minke Whale Deceptionp. 132
5.6 Atomflot: A Catastrophe-in-Waitingp. 136
5.7 Space Debrisp. 140
6 Saving Face: When professional pride comes before public safetyp. 143
6.1 Ferry Disastersp. 146
6.2 X-Ray Secrecyp. 151
6.3 Concordep. 154
7 The Human Cost: Violating human rights in the name of sciencep. 159
7.1 Porton Downp. 160
7.2 Unit 731p. 163
7.3 Shell in the Niger Deltap. 167
7.4 The Tuskegee Syphilis Studyp. 172
7.5 Human Testing at Holmesburg Prisonp. 176
7.6 The Alder Hey Children's Hospital Scandalp. 180
What Does the Future Hold?p. 184
Glossaryp. 188
Indexp. 190
Bibliographyp. 192