Peer review and other checks and balances failed

Orac discusses what he claims is The most massive scientific fraud ever?. He notes that science relies on a fair measure of trust. One should keep in mind that science in only one aspect of human relations and effective relationships always require a ‘fair measure of trust.’ Our business world and our culture also require being able to trust others.

What most angers me about this case is the massive betrayal of trust. The public expects that its scientists, at the very least, will be honest about their results. Too much depends on it, especially in medical science, where it is people’s health that is at stake.

What that means for those of us who defend science- and evidence-based medicine is that every crank alt-med site and blog on the Internet is going to be harping on this incident as The Proof That Conventional Medicine Is Hopelessly Corrupt and their favorite woo is being kept down

Whether it is Madoff or Reuben, a fraud perpetrated on others is made easier when the situation is complex and the methods used for verifications of truthfulness fail. There are two major outcomes of such breaches of trust. One is to pile even more process on the verification process. The other is that the fraud is used to rationalize and excuse other frauds that do not have the severity with a false comparison rationality.

Adding even more processes is costly and its side effects can inhibit or even destroy growth and development. The ability to sell ‘minor’ frauds is also costly in many ways. A breach of trust runs to the core of civilization and cannot be taken lightly. The problem is what to do about it. That problem is another issue in itself and is suffering its own dissonance.

Comments are closed.