Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crisis of Credibility: Science

We've become accustomed, even desensitized and accepting of lying in politics, bias in news and scandals in religion but Science is generally granted a higher assumed level of credibility.

In our present society, the embraced, capitalist concept of "competitive advantage" has metastasized into blatant politicization, spin and deception. The behavior is systemic. It would be irrational to believe that science is somehow immune.

The Economist: Liar! Liar!: Fraud in science. Scientists are not quite as honest as might be hoped
Admissions of outright fraud (ie, having fabricated, falsified or modified data to improve the outcome at least once during a scientific career) were low. According to the meta-analysis, 2% of researchers questioned were willing to confess to this. But lower-level fraud was rife. About 10% confessed to questionable practices, such as “dropping data points based on a gut feeling” or “failing to present data that contradict one’s previous research”—though this figure was just a straight average of the underlying studies, since the relevant parts of the underlying studies were too disparate to run through the meta-analysis.

Moreover, when it came to airing suspicions about colleagues, the numbers went up. The meta-analysis suggested that 14% of researchers in the underlying studies had seen their colleagues fabricate, falsify, alter or modify data. If the question was posed in more general terms, such as running experiments with deficient methods, failing to report deficiencies or misrepresenting data, the straight average suggested that 46% of researchers had seen others get up to such shenanigans. In only half of the cases, though, had the respondent to a survey tried to do anything about the misconduct he said he had witnessed.

NYTimes: Merck Paid for Medical ‘Journal’ Without Disclosure
From 2002 through 2005, the Australian affiliate of Merck paid the Australian office of Elsevier, an academic publisher, to publish eight compilations of scientific articles under the title Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a spokesman for Elsevier said.

The Merck marketing compilation was unusual in that it looked like an independent peer-reviewed medical journal. It even called itself a “journal,” without indicating in any of the issues that Merck had paid for it.


Kelly Marie said...

To quote the great Dr. House,
" everybody lies."

Thomas Sherman said...

they certainly do