Monday, June 13, 2005
around one in three biomedical researchers has compromised their scientific integrity. That is the conclusion of a survey of 3,200 American scientists, who were polled anonymously on 34 questions about ethical practice. The results were published last week in Nature. Academics are now discussing whether medical research is in urgent need of an injection of scruples.On previous items I have done stuff about how dubious claims are being made about risk & how they are being used by Nanny to tell us what to do.
Fewer than 2 per cent admitted serious transgressions, such as falsifying data or plagiarism (amazingly, ten researchers confessed to outright fraud). However, there are a larger number of supposedly lesser offences, such as withholding data (6 per cent). About 12 per cent overlooked flawed data or analyses in other studies, while a worrying 15 per cent had changed the design, methodology or results of a study under pressure from a funding source. 15 per cent admitted to “ dropping observations or data points from analyses based on a gut feeling that they were inaccurate”. Altogether, a third admitted to at least one of the ten most dubious practices.
Elsewhere here you will find the text of the speech I made at the Scot Lib Dem conference against the smoking ban, which pointed out that of 41 studies only 7 had shown a correlation between illness & passive smoking & elsewhere the email from the BMA saying that just because they officially claimed that 1,000 people a year die of this & McConnell had told Holyrood that his ban in Scotland would save 1,000 a year, didn't mean that McConnell was a liar (he is & so are they & it is a disgrace that no Scots opposition MSP has had the guts to say so).
Similarly fraudulent claims have been made about nuclear radiation & HIV & a new one appears almost daily about salmon or salt or mobile phones or UFO abductions or electricity lines ad nausiam.
The killer here is "while a worrying 15 per cent had changed the design, methodology or results of a study under pressure from a funding source". This is may be legal but it is fraud clear & simple. If most of these are the equivalent of embezzling from the boss changing a study for money is the moral equivalent of palming off a car on a little old lady because the boss knew it was dangerous & should be scrapped. Basically if your study of, say, global warming shows that from 1980 to 2005 average temperatures have gone up & back down again you redefine it as a study from 1980 to 1997 & presto - global warming.
I love science but some "scientists" should be hung.
Literally - in terms of years wasted & pain produced simple murder is certainly less damaging than some of these reports.