Expert evaluation and conflict of interest in the post-truth era




The article is devoted to topical issues of expert evaluation and the problem of conflict of interests in scientific activity. It is noted that the transformation of the usual models of interaction between the public and mass media leads to the emergence of the “post-truth” phenomenon. A manifestation of post-truth in science are conflicts of interests that can distort scientific results and expert conclusions. The materials of the “Code of Scientific Ethics” were used regarding the rights and obligations of scientific workers, recognized by the international community, and regarding the conflict of interests as a situation in which the judgments, conclusions, and actions of an individual are influenced by numerous conflicting interests that are opposite in form and content. Specific types of conflicts of interest are singled out by subject. It is shown that conflicts of interest occur more often in three types of research: applied research, target research, practical-oriented research. It is emphasized that there is a strong positive correlation between the source of funding and the results of research: The Agreement on Reforming the Evaluation of Scientific Research, prepared and adopted by the International Assembly of Stakeholders, which included more than 350 universities and organizations from more than 40 countries, was considered. The agreement proposes to focus mainly on expert evaluations, both by experts in the specified field and by engaged independent experts to evaluate the results of scientific works. It is shown that peer review is designed to neutralize the negative effect of conflict of interests in science. It is outlined that in order to solve the problem of conflicts of interests and expert evaluations, technologies based on new achievements of machine learning have been actively developed recently. The formation of a new phenomenon of “post-truth” in the evaluation of media texts and messages, when rejecting the advice of experts is equated with asserting one’s own independence, is analyzed. It was noted that the spread of the post-truth phenomenon intensified the issue of conflict of interests in science. It is emphasized that restoring the authority of expert opinion becomes not only a subject of philosophical debates, but also a matter of collective security.