In recent comments posted on this website, readers have discussed whether or not they can trust so-called scientific evidence from studies and research. With that in mind, please direct your attention and interest to an article written October 1, 2012 and published in the New York Times, the title of which is, “Misconduct Widespread in Retracted Science Papers, Study Finds“.
The article states:
In the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two scientists and a medical communications consultant analyzed 2,047 retracted papers in the biomedical and life sciences. They found that misconduct was the reason for three-quarters of the retractions for which they could determine the cause.
“We found that the problem was a lot worse than we thought,” said an author of the study, Dr. Arturo Casadevall of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.
While the article fails to explicitly detail what drives the “misconduct” or, in some cases, “fraud”, i.e intentionally falsifying data. A ten-time increase in the amount of discovered “misconduct” surely presents the scientific community in a terrible light.
A professor of health policy of Emory University said he thought the problem was that researchers “need to be kept in perspective”, the data and conclusions that are being made. But I tend to agree with Dr. Arturo Casadevall who said, “It convinces me more that we have a problem in science.”
And problem it certainly is, especially if discussions among the public regarding issues dealing with science are any indication. Consider the controversy surrounding scientific studies and corruption involving climate change.
It was only perhaps ten years ago when a nationwide survey among college students revealed that over 80% of those polled believed that cheating justified the end goal of receiving a diploma necessary to compete in the work community. If that is the case, then are we so naive as to believe that once these students leave college they will magically mend their ways?
Dr. Casadevall went on to say that the pressure that exists, the result of how programs are designed to reward those who can publish a study in a major journal, forces these people to cheat. Really? I understand the pressures but succumbing to cheating I think runs a little bit deeper than, “I’ll do anything to get a job”.
Little was mentioned as to how money, awarded for research, influences what results in scientific studies.
Regardless of the reasons, science has a problem but perhaps it is designed to be this way. A truthful question one might ask is, does any of this really matter? Organizations spends millions of dollars each year paying so-called research scientists to conduct studies that will result in findings of which the payer wishes to conclude…..and this fraudulent act knows no political boundaries.
It’s easy to say, we need to apply science to the decisions that are made but if we are eager to promote our own ideals and agendas, isn’t it better and more profitable to produce our own science? This truth in and of itself, presents people with little incentive to alter their scientific alterations.
Readers who have commented on this blog have said anything from they didn’t trust or even believe anything produced by the scientific community to those who blindly adhere to what government says, and some desperately seeking comfort and security somewhere smack dab in the middle. Is any approach better than another?
As discussions go, the arguments usually pit one debater against another, questioning the reliability of information presented, against that of their own. What is most unfortunate is that we are the victims of the fraud within the scientific community. If Science intends to retain any credibility among the masses, it better be looking at some serious changes.
But then again, maybe Science believes strongly enough that it can continue to deceive enough people in order to get from point “A” to point “B”.
And the final question is, where is point “B”?