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Bending Science

Bending Science

How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research

Thomas O. McGarity, Wendy E. Wagner

ISBN 9780674047143

Publication date: 03/15/2012

What do we know about the possible poisons that industrial technologies leave in our air and water? How reliable is the science that federal regulators and legislators use to protect the public from dangerous products? As this disturbing book shows, ideological or economic attacks on research are part of an extensive pattern of abuse.

Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy E. Wagner reveal the range of sophisticated legal and financial tactics political and corporate advocates use to discredit or suppress research on potential human health hazards. Scientists can find their research blocked, or find themselves threatened with financial ruin. Corporations, plaintiff attorneys, think tanks, even government agencies have been caught suppressing or distorting research on the safety of chemical products.

With alarming stories drawn from the public record, McGarity and Wagner describe how advocates attempt to bend science or “spin” findings. They reveal an immense range of tools available to shrewd partisans determined to manipulate research.

Bending Science exposes an astonishing pattern of corruption and makes a compelling case for reforms to safeguard both the integrity of science and the public health.


  • Bending Science is an intelligent and compelling blend of investigative journalism and theoretical analysis of the structural and functional flaws of the research enterprise, from the development of testable ideas to the use of its results for practical purposes… Bending Science [is] an indispensable read for our current troubled times. All in all, this book is a must-read not only for researchers devoted to the scientific method but also for all who wish to become competent consumers of research that can influence their lives. The narrative is an eye-opener, which will provide the reader with tools to understand the research process and protect himself/herself from advocacy-based distortions.

    —Maura Pilotti, Metapsychology


  • Thomas O. McGarity is Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Professor in Administrative Law at the University of Texas School of Law and former attorney-advisor in the Office of General Counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is author of Bending Science (Harvard), The Preemption War, and Freedom to Harm, as well as articles in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and The American Prospect. He is a past president of the Center for Progressive Reform.
  • Wendy E. Wagner is Richard Dale Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

Book Details

  • 400 pages
  • 1 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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