By: Robyn Chuter
In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the Mercury Project and contrasted its stated aims – to improve COVID-related health outcomes in 17 countries (16 of them low and middle-income) by combating “heath mis- and disinformation” that had dissuaded people from accepting a COVID-19 injection – with the reality on the ground. That reality is simply that the countries with the highest uptake of COVID jabs generally have the highest COVID-attributed death rates and the highest excess mortality, and conversely those countries whose populations largely rejected the jabs are doing the best on both counts.
Given that the entire raison d’etre of the Mercury Project is self-evidently fallacious, you may be asking yourself how, and why, it has managed to attract over US$30 million in funding, and snare some big-name researchers including Angela Duckworth of Grit fame and Katy Milkman, host of the behavioural economics podcast ‘Choiceology’ and author of several popular books on behaviour change.
(You’ll be pleased to know that these celebrity researchers are going to lend their talents to persuading more Americans to accept boosters that have negative efficacy – that is, they increase the risk of infection – against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Nice work!)
To answer those ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions, we need to delve into the history of the organisations behind the Mercury Project. As you’ll remember from Part 1, the project was initiated by the Social Science Research Council, with seed funding by the Rockefeller Foundation ($7.5 million), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ($2 million), Craig Newmark Philanthropies ($500K), followed by a $250K grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and US$20 million from the National Science Foundation.
In this post, we’ll delve into the Social Science Research Council and the Rockefeller Foundation. Part 3 will examine the remaining foundations.
The Social Science Research CouncilThis is how the Social Science Research Council describes its history and mission:
“The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization founded in 1923. It fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues…
For nearly 100 years the Social Science Research Council has coordinated the research, policy, and philanthropic communities in the pursuit of evidence-based policies to promote human well-being, emerging as both a pivotal force in the academy and a respected contributor to the public good. The SSRC is guided by the belief that justice, prosperity, and democracy all require better understanding of complex social, cultural, economic, and political processes. We work with practitioners, policymakers, and academic researchers in the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and related professions. We build interdisciplinary and international networks, working with partners around the world to link research to practice and policy, strengthen individual and institutional capacities for learning, and enhance public access to information.”
But the real story is rather more complicated – and much less benign. In reality, the SSRC itself was established by tax exempt foundations, for the purpose of steering the development of the social sciences – that is, psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, history and statistics – in a direction which supported the financial, social and political objectives of the robber barons who established them.
The 1915 report of the Walsh Commission on Industrial Relations had excoriated the tax exempt foundations, particularly the Rockefeller Foundation, for using its vast wealth to mould public policy to its founders’ financial interests, whilst being “subject to no public control”:
“The entrance of the foundations into the field of industrial relations, through the creation of a special division by the Rockefeller Foundation, constitutes a menace to the national welfare to which the attention not only of Congress but of the entire country should be directed. Backed by the $100,000,000 of the Rockefeller Foundation, this movement has the power to influence the entire country in the determination of its most vital policy…
The so-called ‘investigation of industrial relations’ has not, as is claimed, either a scientific or a social basis, but originated to promote the industrial interests of Mr. Rockefeller.”
Final Report of the Commission on Industrial Relations, p. 121
As a consequence, the foundations established “academic holding companies” such as the SSRC and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), in order to launder their agenda-shaping research funding through ostensibly independent bodies which were, in reality, anything but:
“The ACLS and SSRC were formed in 1919 and 1923 respectively, and between 1925 and 1960 the former organization received US$20 million from foundations (60 per cent of which came from the big three [the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford Foundations]), and from 1925 to 1960 the SSRC received US$28 million (95 percent of which was funnelled to them by the big three).”
Progressive Social Change in the ‘Ivory Tower’? A Critical Reflection on the Evolution of Activist Orientated Research in US Universities
The agenda of the SSRC was laid bare by Norman Dodd, in his 1954 report to the Special Committee of the House of Representatives to Investigate Tax Exempt Foundations, which became known as the Reece Committee. Referring to the complex web of associations, societies and councils established and maintained by the largesse of the tax exempt foundations, Dodd concluded:
“The broad study which called our attention to the activities of these organizations has revealed not only their support by Foundations but has disclosed a degree of cooperation between them which they have referred to as ‘an interlock’, thus indicating a concentration of influence and power. By this phrase they indicate they are bound by a common interest rather than a dependency upon a single source for capital funds. It is difficult to study their relationship without confirming this. Likewise, it is difficult to avoid the feeling that their common interest has led them to cooperate closely with one another and that this common interest lies in the planning and control of certain aspects of American life through a combination of the Federal Government and education.
This may explain why the Foundations have played such an active role in the promotion of the social sciences, why they have favored so strongly the employment of social scientists by the Federal Government and why they seem to have used their influence to transform education into an instrument for social change…
In summary, our study of these entities and their relationship to each other seems to warrant the inference that they constitute a highly efficient, functioning whole. Its product is apparently an educational curriculum designed to indoctrinate the American student from matriculation to the consummation of his education. It contrasts sharply with the freedom of the individual as the cornerstone of our social structure. For this freedom, it seems to substitute the group, the will of the majority, and a centralized power to enforce this will—presumably in the interest of all. Its development and production seems to have been largely the work of those organizations engaged in research, such as the Social Science Research Council and the National Research Council.”
Dodd Report to the Reece Committee on Foundations, pp. 10-11
You can watch G. Edward Griffin’s interview with Norman Dodd on his investigation of the tax exempt foundations, and his disturbing conclusions, here:
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