Recently, economist Bob Martin rejected the notion that scholars have an obligation to "inform the public" about "conflicts of interest" with respect to "a public issue." He says issues should be decided by "objective evidence." We differ in that he equates informing with either partisanship or advocacy; I do not. Also, he sees only one issue, while I see two.
Before internal documents revealed that tobacco companies were lying to us, smokers and those considering smoking were sometimes confused because scientists were divided about smoking's health effects. A partisan might say to the public: "Don't believe what tobacco scientists say. They always lie." An advocate would say: "Go ahead and smoke" (or the reverse). An informer would ask: "Doesn't it seem curious that all the scientists who deny causality between smoking and health issues happen to work for the tobacco companies? Maybe you should be wary."
Providing people with supplemental information to assist them in deciding THEIR issue (Should I smoke?) in no way halts or adversely affects the related but different issue facing scientific researchers (Does smoking cause cancer?). Moreover, the additional information provided may save lives. Doubtless, it actually did.