People are savvy, skeptical, and can sniff out lies quickly. If you’re not transparent, people will call you on it. And when they do, you will look worse than if you just said what was true to begin with.
Apparently researchers at UCLA forgot about the importance of being open with the public. According to a Los Angeles Times article, they recently accepted $6 million from tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay for a study on teenage nicotine addition. However, the school was mum about where its funds came from, and Philip Morris’ role in the study has drawn heavy criticism from anti-tobacco activists. Could the research help Philip Morris design a more addictive cigarette rather than help people stop smoking? While some argue that the study may discover new ways to help people quit smoking, others are skeptical about the intentions of the research and argue that the project is being conducted in secrecy.
“It’s stunning in this day and age that a university would do secret research for the tobacco industry on the brains of children,” said Matt Meyers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C. “It raises fundamental questions about the integrity, honesty and openness of research anywhere at the University of California.”
UCLA researches should have openly discussed Philip Morris’ role in their study. Their confidentiality sends out a red flag to the public, and gives people a reason to believe they are hiding something worth uncovering.
The moral of the story: be transparent, so you don’t get caught playing a game of hide-and-seek with the public. More often than not, the public will find you. And when they do, they will expose what they found to the world.