Mike Nifong, the prosecuter behind the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case is the type of person who worries me. He was six weeks away from an election when the Duke case came up. Durham voters are divided between black and white. Nifong promised black voters that he would not let the Duke case drop. He indicted two of the players two weeks before the election and narrowly won.
Nifong had the accuser chose from photos of the 46 white lacrosse players on the team—a multiple-choice test with no wrong answers. He was also aware that there was no DNA evidence linking any of the men to this woman. What he wanted however, was to get re-elected. He acheived his goal.
So how does this relate to Cargo Cult Science. It is about human ambitions. If there is a Cargo Cult airport there are going to people running the airport. How does one get to be an authority when no airplanes have ever landed? In Biotechnology we rely on college degrees, patents, publications and a number of other achievements losely related to scientific work. We often times run into problems discovering new drugs so we change the rules. We set up a long list of candidates and select a few to hammer through. This is just like the 46 pictures of the Lacrosse team. There were no decoys set up to shed light on the decision process. The DNA evidence handling is another method used. When negative data comes up you just don't talk about it. Gone. Simple.
Some people get caught like Mike Nifong. His Cargo Cult leadership skills were too obvious. He wasn't powerful enough to ignore his critics. The lesson is for the public. When we see George and his ilk lying and cheating we must insist that the system be changed. People will never change. If we change the system people like Bush and Nifong will cease to rise up the chain of command.