Friday, 25 March 2022

Nothing to see here, just some normal academics doing academic research

Some news from Australia that I came across on Twitter yesterday...
I've blocked out the name because it's not the person I'm interested but the role.

We’re championing 3 inspired minds who will take on the title of ‘Harmful Industries Fellows’. These roles will fuel fresh, bold research Victorians can use to put our people’s health before industry profit.

New postdoctoral research fellowship program puts Victorians before profit

These 3 early-career research fellows will look at brands, companies or organisations who profit from products that are harmful to health and wellbeing including:

  • alcohol
  • gambling
  • unhealthy food and sugary drinks
They will gather new insights that help us better understand the biggest factors influencing our health.

The main goal? Positive, healthy changes for the people of Victoria.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought the main goal of postdoctoral research was to contribute to the academic literature and expand the field of human knowledge. Increasingly, however, it seems to be blatant, one-sided political activism. 

Judging by the amazing graphic that accompanied this announcement, 'Harmful Industries Fellows' are going to be very busy. Not only do they have to tackle Big Alcohol, Big Tech and Big Pharma, they also have to take on the Military Industrial Complex, the Gig Economy, Not-For-Profits and Philanthropies.

If they have some spare time at the end of the week, they can also get their teeth into Neoliberalism, Privatisation, Capitalism and Multistakeholderism. Three people hardly seems enough, even if they do have 'inspired minds'.

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that this radical activism masquerading as academia is being funded by the government. VicHealth AKA the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation was formed in 1987 as a result of Australia's Tobacco Act. It has been syphoning off money from cigarette taxes ever since and last year received $41 million from the government. Not bad for an organisation that is opposed to 'profit'. 
It was originally set up as an anti-smoking group, but before you could say 'mission creep', things had snowballed. It seems a strange use of taxpayers' money but, as I say, perhaps I'm very old-fashioned.

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