Corruption in Science News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on corruption in science
A group of 22 medical experts convened by Johns Hopkins University and The Lancet have called today for the decriminalization of all nonviolent drug use and possession. The experts further encourage countries and U.S. states to "move gradually toward regulated drug markets and apply the scientific method to their assessment." Their report comes ahead of a special UN General Assembly Session on drugs to be held next month. In a lengthy review of the state of global drug policy, the Hopkins-Lancet experts conclude that the prohibitionist anti-drug policies of the past 50 years "directly and indirectly contribute to lethal violence, disease, discrimination, forced displacement, injustice and the undermining of people’s right to health. "The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws, but these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded," said Commissioner Dr. Chris Beyrer. "The idea that all drug use is necessarily 'abuse' means that immediate and complete abstinence has been seen as the only acceptable approach," commissioner Adeeba Kamarulzaman ... said. But, she added, "continued criminalization of drug use fuels HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis transmission within prisons and the community at large. There is another way. Programmes and policies aimed at reducing harm should be central to future drug policies."
Note: While the war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure", and the healing potentials of mind altering drugs are starting to be investigated more openly, there remains powerful evidence that the CIA and US military are directly involved in the drug trade.
New research suggests that Splenda - an artificial sweetener recently considered safe - may contribute to serious health problems like cancer. The study, published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, found that mice fed sucralose daily throughout their lives developed leukemia and other blood cancers. In response to the findings, the Center for Science in the Public Interest - a nutrition watchdog group that assesses the safety of food additives - has now formally recommended that consumers avoid the sweetener. That's a big deal, considering that until 2013, they'd rated the additive as "safe." This new evidence was especially powerful because it was funded without special interests in mind, explains Lisa Lefferts, MSPH, senior scientist at the CSPI. "For most food additives, the safety studies are conducted by the manufacturers who have financial incentives," Lefferts says. Even if you discount this new mouse study, you'll still find plenty of reasons to skip out on sucralose. A growing body of research shows that artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain, not weight loss. One study found drinking diet soda was linked to increased belly fat; in another, each daily can was associated with a 41% jump in obesity risk. Sucralose has even been shown to mess with your blood sugar and insulin levels, causing spikes and dips that could lead to cravings later on. The bottom line: the scientists at the CSPI firmly believe you should steer clear of sucralose.
Note: Food additive manufacturers use the same deceptive tactics that Big Tobacco was found guilty of. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS cardiologist and a trustee of the King’s Fund health think tank, claims there is “a systemic lack of transparency in the information being given to doctors to prescribe medication, in terms of the benefits of drugs being grossly exaggerated and their side effects under reported in studies”. Dr Malhotra said the prevalence of pharmaceutical companies, which are “profit making businesses” being able to fund studies and drug trials causes biased information to be recorded and reported on in medical journals. This is in turn “creating an epidemic of misinformed doctors,” he said. This lack of transparency ... harms patients through the adverse side effects of drugs, Dr Malhotra said, citing an FDA report that found adverse events from prescribed medications caused 123,000 deaths in the USA in 2014 and 800,000 serious patient outcomes, which include hospitalisation or potentially causing disability. The FDA report also states that the number of adverse events from prescribed medications have tripled in the past 10 years in America. While the UK does not have the same kind of data, Peter Gotze, professor of research design at the University of Copenhagen, has evidence to suggest that prescribed drugs are the third biggest killer behind heart disease and cancer. Last year the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges launched a campaign to stop doctors from ‘over-treating’ patients.
Note: The editor of The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, recently wrote that half of all claims made in medical science journals may be untrue. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
In a study published in the January edition of the journal Mindfulness, psychologists ... asked 313 adults if they had helped anyone during the previous week. Eighty-five percent said they had — by, say, listening to a friend’s problems, babysitting, donating to charity, or volunteering. This small study reveals a truth that is consistently demonstrated in many domains of research: We care deeply for one other, and ... would rather help our fellow beings than not. Even more, the science shows that refusing to help others can have debilitating, long-term mental and physical consequences for ourselves. Isolation hurts, physically; so does aggression. Every angry word we utter fries neurons and wears out our hearts. Here’s an experiment you can perform right now: Think about something stressful that happened to you during the past week. Now scan your body: How does your chest, stomach, or neck feel? Then think about something good that happened during the same period, however small. Now what happens in your body? Did you feel any difference? The research predicts that the stressful memory caused you physical discomfort. Your tight chest and clenched stomach doesn’t make the world a better place. So what can you do? Science has an answer, and it starts with counting ... the good things in life. That doesn’t mean we ignore the bad. But all too often our negativity bias leads us to see only the bad, in other people as well as in ourselves. By counting the good things, we see reality more clearly.
Note: The new site Greater Good in Action offers concrete, research-tested practices for individuals to cultivate strengths like awe, gratitude, empathy, and compassion.
Monsanto Co.’s undisclosed recruitment of scientists from Harvard University, Cornell University and three other schools to write about the benefits of plant biotechnology is drawing fire from opponents. Monsanto says it’s in regular contact with public-sector scientists as it tries to “elevate” public dialog on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit group funded by the Organic Consumers Association that obtained e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act, says correspondence revealing Monsanto’s actions shows the “corporate control of science and how compliant some academics are.” The articles have become the latest flashpoint in an information war being waged over plant biotechnology. The articles in question appeared on the Genetic Literacy Project’s website in a series called “GMO - Beyond the Science.” Eric Sachs, who leads Monsanto’s scientific outreach, wrote to eight scientists to pen a series of briefs aimed at influencing “public policy, GM crop regulation and consumer acceptance.” Five of them obliged. University of Florida Professor Kevin Folta said he agreed to write “Anti-GMO Activism and Its Impact on Food Security” because communicating science to the public is his job. Folta has faced public criticism since the New York Times ... reported last month about his communications with Monsanto and a $25,000 donation to the science communication program he runs.
In 2001, a "landmark" study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry purported to show the safety and effectiveness of using a common antidepressant to treat adolescents. The original published findings were biased and misleading. Known as Study 329, the randomised controlled trial ... was funded by SmithKline Beecham – now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – the manufacturer of paroxetine. The research has been repeatedly criticised, and there have been numerous calls for it to be retracted. To re-analyse the evidence of effectiveness and safety of paroxetine, we used documents posted online by GSK. We also had access to other publicly available documents and individual participant data. We found that paroxetine [Paxil] was no more effective than a placebo, which is the opposite of the claim in the original paper. We also found significant increases in harms with both paroxetine and imipramine, [another antidepressant]. Compared with the placebo group, the paroxetine group had more than twice as many severe adverse events, and four times as many psychiatric adverse events, including suicidal behaviours and self-harm. And the imipramine group had significantly more heart problems. Our re-analysis ... identified ten strategies used by researchers in this clinical trial to minimise apparent harms. More importantly, our findings show influential peer-reviewed research published in leading medical journals can be seriously misleading.
Note: We all know that clinical trial are skewed when they are sponsored by drug companies, but here is undeniable proof of this published in the UK's most respected medical journal. See this key study on the website of the British Medical Journal. Then don't miss that amazing documentary "Bought" available for free viewing.
A painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists. The vetted studies were considered part of the core knowledge by which scientists understand the dynamics of personality, relationships, learning and memory. More than 60 of the studies did not hold up. The new analysis, called the Reproducibility Project, found no evidence of fraud or that any original study was definitively false. Rather, it concluded that the evidence for most published findings was not nearly as strong as originally claimed. Dr. John Ioannidis, a director of Stanford University’s Meta-Research Innovation Center ... said the problem could be even worse in other fields, including cell biology, economics, neuroscience, clinical medicine, and animal research. The report appears at a time when the number of retractions of published papers is rising sharply in a wide variety of disciplines. Scientists have pointed to a hypercompetitive culture across science that ... provides little incentive for researchers to replicate the findings of others, or for journals to publish studies that fail to find a splashy result.
Note: The editor of a top medical journal recently suggested that half all of scientific literature may simply be untrue. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in science.
[A] symposium — on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week — touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics. National assessment procedures ... incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct. Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivised to be productive. The conclusion of the symposium was that something must be done. The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously. The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system.
Note: The Lancet is considered by many to be the most prestigious medical journal in the world. If the editor-in-chief of the Lancet is making these comments, who can we trust? Read a powerfully revealing essay by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell on how the drug companies blatantly manipulate science for profit.
When U.S. health regulators find serious problems with how medical researchers collect their data, the researchers’ final reports often don’t mention it, a new analysis suggests. Out of 78 published papers reporting on clinical trials in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found very serious issues, only three mentioned any violations, the new report says. “These are major things,” said Charles Seife, a journalism professor and the study’s author. Using documents and data from 1998 to 2013, Seife and his students at New York University in New York City identified 57 clinical trials that received an “official action indicated” violation - the most serious type of violation for trials - for reasons including poor record keeping, false information and poor patient safety. The problems that weren't reported were sometimes egregious. One paper, for example, said all patients reported improvement, but in fact, the FDA found that one patient had a foot amputated two weeks after receiving the treatment. In another case, the entire clinical trial was considered unreliable by the FDA - but the published paper didn't mention that. In another, researchers falsified data, which led to one patient’s death. Data on these violations are not readily available. So it's impossible to say how often tainted data are published and how often the violations are noted, Seife said.
Note: Read an informative article with much more detail about the egregious conduct of the FDA. This article raises the question, "Why does the FDA stay silent about fraud and misconduct in scientific studies of medicine?" For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing science corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A controversial scientist who carried out provocative research on making influenza viruses more infectious has completed his most dangerous experiment to date by deliberately creating a pandemic strain of flu that can evade the human immune system. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has genetically manipulated the 2009 strain of pandemic flu in order for it to “escape” the control of the immune system’s neutralising antibodies, effectively making the human population defenceless against its reemergence. Most of the world today has developed some level of immunity to the 2009 pandemic flu virus. However ... Professor Kawaoka intentionally set out to see if it was possible to convert it to a pre-pandemic state in order to analyse the genetic changes involved. Professor Kawaoka’s work had been cleared by Wisconsin’s Institutional Biosafety Committee, but some members of the committee were not informed about details of the antibody study ... and have voiced concerns about the direction, oversight and safety of his overall research on flu viruses. “I have met Professor Kawaoka in committee and have heard his research presentations and honestly it was not re-assuring,” said Professor Tom Jeffries, a dissenting member of the 17-person biosafety committee. This is the first time that someone has taken a strain of influenza virus, called H1N1, known to have caused a global epidemic, in other words a “pandemic”, and deliberately mutated it many times over.
A bogus scientific paper about a new anti-cancer compound was accepted by more than half of 300 scientific journals it was submitted to in the past year, despite having obvious and serious scientific flaws. Science journalist John Bohannon reported the results of his experiment in the journal Science. Bohannon, who holds a PhD in molecular biology and is a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s program in ethics and health, ... concluded [that] “a huge proportion” of the journals were not ensuring their papers were peer reviewed. Even in cases where peer review happened, it didn’t always function correctly. For example, the Ottawa-based International Journal of Herbs and Medicinal Plants clearly sent the paper out to be reviewed by real scientists, who pointed out some flaws, Bohannon recalled. Even so, when Bohannon submitted a revised version of the paper without correcting any of the flaws, it was accepted. Bohannon said peer review is “crucial” so that readers of a scientific paper know it has “at least passed muster with a couple of experts who are in a position, hopefully, to judge. It could be the whole peer review system is just failing under the strain of the tens of thousands of journals that now exist.” He added that if peer review isn’t working, then people with what amounts to fraudulent scientific credentials and publication records “are slowly filling university departments and government offices, making important science-based policy decisions.” In addition, “terrible science” is polluting the global pool of knowledge."
Note: For more on the corruption of science, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (Ł77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change. The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives. The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations. The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions. And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden. "The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. "These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.
Arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine regularly features articles over which pharmaceutical companies and their employees can exert significant influence. Over a year-long period ending in August, NEJM published 73 articles on original studies of new drugs, encompassing drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 and experimental drugs. Of those articles, 60 were funded by a pharmaceutical company, 50 were co-written by drug company employees and 37 had a lead author, typically an academic, who had previously accepted outside compensation from the sponsoring drug company in the form of consultant pay, grants or speaker fees. The New England Journal of Medicine is not alone in featuring research sponsored in large part by drug companies — it has become a common practice that reflects the growing role of industry money in research. Years ago, the government funded a larger share of such experiments. But since about the mid-1980s, research funding by pharmaceutical firms has exceeded what the National Institutes of Health spends. Last year, the industry spent $39 billion on research in the United States while NIH spent $31 billion. When the company is footing the bill, the opportunities for bias are manifold: Company executives seeking to promote their drugs can design research that makes their products look better. They can select like-minded academics to perform the work. And they can run the statistics in ways that make their own drugs look better than they are. If troubling signs about a drug arise, they can steer clear of further exploration.
Note: To read an excellent summary of a book written by a former editor in chief of the NEJM exposing major corruption by the pharmaceuticals which poses a great threat to public health, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Speakers at a major science meeting being held in Canada said communication of vital research on health and environment issues is being suppressed. Prof Thomas Pedersen, a senior scientist at the University of Victoria, said he believed there was a political motive in some cases. The Canadian government recently withdrew from the Kyoto protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The allegation of "muzzling" came up at a session of the AAAS meeting to discuss the impact of a media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008. The protocol requires that all interview requests for scientists employed by the government must first be cleared by officials. A decision as to whether to allow the interview can take several days, which can prevent government scientists commenting on breaking news stories. Sources say that requests are often refused and when interviews are granted, government media relations officials can and do ask for written questions to be submitted in advance and elect to sit in on the interview. Andrew Weaver, an environmental scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, described the protocol as "Orwellian". Professor Weaver said that information is so tightly controlled that the public is "left in the dark"."The only information they are given is that which the government wants, which will then allow a supporting of a particular agenda," he said.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
As auto manufacturers imagine a future of self-driving and always-connected cars, they'll need to worry about something else—electronic malfunctions and cyberattacks, according to a report released by the Transportation Research Board. "Automobiles today are literally 'computers on wheels,'" says the report. Current auto software uses more than a million lines of code. In the coming years, onboard computers will become even more important. Like a computer, a car's internal software can be infected with a virus or hacked. Last year, researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, proved that computers could be hacked with either physical access to the car or wirelessly using technology such as Bluetooth. A hacker could then disable the brakes, stop the engine, or worse. According to the report, "automotive manufacturers have designed their networks without giving sufficient attention to such cybersecurity vulnerabilities because automobiles have not faced adversarial pressures."
Note: A New York Times article goes into more detail. The article doesn't mention the obvious possibility that the FBI, NSA, or other intelligence agencies could hack into any car's computer system and cause an accident. There is even a term, "Boston Brakes," for staged car wrecks, allegedly because the CIA first started experimenting with this in Boston. For an article delving into this, click here. Could this be what happened to courageous reporter Michael Hastings and others? For more on intelligence agency corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A dull-looking chart projected on the wall of a university office in Jerusalem displayed a revelation that would startle many readers of the Old Testament: The sacred text that people revered in the past was not the same one we study today. An ancient version of one book has an extra phrase. Another appears to have been revised to retroactively insert a prophecy after the events happened. Scholars in this out-of-the-way corner of the Hebrew University campus have been quietly at work for 53 years on one of the most ambitious projects attempted in biblical studies — publishing the authoritative edition of the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible, and tracking every single evolution of the text over centuries and millennia. The ongoing work of the academic detectives of the Bible Project, as their undertaking is known, shows that this text at the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam was somewhat fluid for long periods of its history, and that its transmission through the ages was messier and more human than most of us imagine. The sheer volume of information makes the Bible Project's version "the most comprehensive critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in existence at the present time," said David Marcus, a Bible scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, who is not involved with the project.
If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America. For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious. Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, "It will come to him as his own idea." Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is "disease branding." To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea. It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic "thought leaders" to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce.
Note: This key topic is discussed in great depth in the BBC's documentary "Century of the Self" available here. And for a top doctor's analysis that the cholesterol scare was largely manufactured for profit, click here.
The astounding revelation that U.S. medical researchers intentionally gave Guatemalans gonorrhea and syphilis more than 60 years ago is so horrifying that we want to believe that what happened then could never happen today. A report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services noted that roughly 80 percent of drug approvals in 2008 were based in part on data from outside the U.S. Susan Reverby, a distinguished historian at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, has ... long researched the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the experiment where poor, black men in rural Alabama were deliberately left untreated for syphilis by government researchers. The study, somehow, was allowed to run from 1932 to 1972. More recently, Reverby came across documents that showed that Dr. John C. Cutler, a physician who would later be one of the researchers involved in the Tuskegee study, was involved in a completely unethical research study much earlier in Guatemala. Cutler, who went to his grave defending the Tuskegee experiment, directly inoculated unknowing prisoners in Guatemala with syphilis and also encouraged them to have sex with diseased prostitutes for his research from 1946-48. His work was sponsored by lauded organizations such as the United States Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health with collaboration of the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization), and the Guatemalan government.
Note: The author of this commentary is Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. For many other examples of government-sponsored experimentation on human guinea pigs, click here.
Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world's first synthetic life form. The world's first synthetic life form ... paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved. The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology". Craig Venter, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines. However critics, including some religious groups, condemned the work, with one organisation warning that artificial organisms could escape into the wild and cause environmental havoc or be turned into biological weapons. Others said Venter was playing God. The new organism is based on an existing bacterium... but at its core is an entirely synthetic genome that was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory. The single-celled organism has four "watermarks" written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.
Note: For a vault of key reports from reliable souces on genetic engineering, click here.
Most pharmaceutical companies have sworn off ghostwriting, the practice of writing "research" papers for doctors and then paying them to add their names as authors even when they had little involvement or the results were trivial. Merck (MRK), Forest Labs (FRX), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have all been caught doing it. But what happens to the articles that have been disavowed by companies or discredited by lawyers? Not much, it turns out. They sit inside prestigious online archives of academic material, unretracted, where they look just like real studies with robust results. Ghostwriting doesn't look good in lawsuits, either. Pfizer (PFE) must now pay $9.5 million to a woman who claimed menopause drug Prempro gave her breast cancer; Wyeth - the company that made the drug and was later acquired by Pfizer - commissioned ghostwritten articles about the drug. So it's interesting to note that many of those pay-for-play articles are still sitting in scholarly archives such as PubMed, notching up bibliography references and footnotes, even though they shouldn't be. You can search for more ghostwritten papers here.
Note: Big Pharma giant Merck created a fake medical journal and created a list of doctors to discredit in order to popularize a dangerous drug that may have killed as many as 500,000 people before it was finally recalled. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing pharmaceutical corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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