Posted: March 30th, 2010 by Militant Libertarian
Media headlines are full of stories about the fraudulent hucksters who lie at the edges of the natural remedies and anti-vaccine cultures, but when scientists in accepted fields of study are caught faking results and cooking the books, the stories go largely unreported. Andrew Wakefield gets censured for one paper from over ten years ago and it’s front page news. When 70 scientific papers from two scientists analyzing chemical structures are found to be well-written fiction, barely a peep is heard.
This obvious bias on the part of the bulk of the media is flagrant and obvious. It took weeks for the media to pick up on the leaked emails and possible fraud going on in England at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia. Blogs and websites circulated the story as soon as it was discovered, and they have been instrumental in cracking the case and showcasing the fraud and insider dealing that goes on in the climate research field.
That was just the tip of the iceberg.
In December, the University of Alabama at Birmingham requested that 11 protein structures be removed from databases and the papers written on them be retracted from journals,1 including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, which has already made the retraction.2
The granddaddy of the group, however, is what was alluded to at the beginning of this article. In January, an editorial appeared in Acta Crystallographica Section E, an eminent Scottish journal of chemistry, and announced the retraction of over 70 peer-reviewed studies by two Chinese scientists from Jinggangshan University.3 At about the same time, the BBC News did a brief story on the money that may have changed hands to facilitate the scientific research – China has a black market for research as professors and others can receive large bonuses for being published in foreign journals.4
In 2008, Mike Adams revealed the ghostwriting of papers isn’t just a Chinese phenomenon. Pharmaceutical companies have been doing it for years and were finally exposed. In-house Big Pharma writers pen the scientific papers and then pay off respected doctors and scientists outside of the pharmaceutical company to put their name on it.5
These are just some of the hundreds of stories of scientific fraud and mis-handling that have appeared over the past decade or more. Yet news media and academia rarely question science and pundits on the television point to “peer reviewed science” as if it’s the end-all, be-all of the scientific method and provides irrefutable truths.
The peer-review process is not, however, as perfect and sacrosanct as most in academia would like you to believe. In fact, it is fundamentally flawed and is a more recent phenomenon in scientific research and publication than most people realize.
Recently, most of the scientific fraud accusations have been aimed at China, but they rarely (if ever) point towards the medical establishment or the pharmaceutical industry. Here on NaturalNews, of course, exposing the transgressions of Big Med and Big Pharma are commonplace. Scientific fraud, however, is rampant amongst nearly all of the sciences and no “peer review” is immune. In fact, peer review is the problem.
In 2002, Jon Rappaport interviewed an insider at a major pharmaceutical and vaccine company. In that interview, the insider revealed the inner workings of Big Pharma and how they work hand-in-hand with the Food and Drug Administration to get their chemicals promoted as medicines.1
Hundreds of other cases have been found, many of those reported here at NaturalNews.2
This brings into question the so-called scientific process of peer review that is often cited as if it were holy writ and the end-all, be-all of truth. “It`s peer reviewed,” they scream when anyone questions their research or evidence. The rejoinder should ask, “Peer reviewed by whom?”
An editorial by the Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses, Professor Bruce G. Charlton at the University of Buckingham3 says:
“Anyone who has been a scientist for more than 20 years will realize that there has been a progressive decline in the honesty of communications between scientists, between scientists and their institutions, and between scientists and their institutions and the outside world.”
In his editorial, Professor Charlton notes the tendency for today`s scientists to pursue “trivial or bogus” research because it will progress their careers. Most of the lies and commissions of fraud scientists, he says, are not to make money, but rather to promote their colleagues, superiors, or institutions in order to gain favor and advancement.
So what is to blame for the rampant dishonesty in science today? Is dishonesty being taught in schools? Is it because there`s too much money at stake? Or is it a fundamental shift that`s taken place in how science itself is conducted?
The blame lies in the way that science is conducted with all other reasons emanating from this core paradigm change. You see, just a few decades ago, “peer review” rarely occurred and was not considered real scientific proof. During science`s golden age, the term and method used was “peer usage.”
Scientific journals would publish anything that appeared to have merit and would let the readers and other scientists try to recreate, debunk, or otherwise test the hypotheses at hand. This allowed non-scientists like the young Mr. Einstein to get papers published because, well, their papers had merit and the journals were willing to let them be tested. Rebuttals, counter-papers, and other tests were common in those journals as well.
Peer usage meant that validity was judged in hind sight by those who`d read the original hypothesis and were willing to test it and write their own views on it. Usually this was done by researchers in a similar field who would use the new hypothesis to further their own experiments and find out if it panned out in their own studies.
Peer review, however, has no such requirements. It is merely the opinion of the reviewing scientists who read the original work and give an editorial on it. No tests or double-checking of facts or methods are required. Basically, with peer review, someone writes a study paper and it is then sent to a group of scientific critics to either blast or praise it.
Professor Charlton is right. Peer review is bunk and is just editorializing in the name of science. It is because of this practice that the rampant fraud and misleading conclusions of scientific research is so prevalent today.
Resources (Part I):
1 – UAB Statement on Protein Data Bank Issues University of Alabama
2 – Dengue virsu NS3 serine proteas. Journal of Biological Chemistry retracted article (one of several by author H.M. Krishna Murthy)
3 – Editorial by William T.A. Harrison, Jim Simpson, and Matthias Weil, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Aberdeen, Vol 66, January 2010
4 – Chinese academia ghost-writing ‘widespread’ BBC News, 5 Jan 2010
5 – Widespread Ghostwriting of Drug Trials Means “Scientific” Credibility of Pharmaceutical Industry is a Sham by Mike Adams, NaturalNews
1 – Scientific Fraud and Vaccines by the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute
2 – Feature articles on scientific fraud NaturalNews
3 – Are you an honest scientist? Truthfulness in science should be an iron law, not a vague aspiration by Bruce G. Charlton, Editor in Chief, Medical Hypotheses