Episode 353 – The Crisis of Science

02/23/201946 Comments

In recent years, the public has gradually discovered that there is a crisis in science. But what is the problem? And how bad is it, really? Today on The Corbett Report we shine a spotlight on the series of interrelated crises that are exposing the way institutional science is practiced today, and what it means for an increasingly science-dependent society.

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TRANSCRIPT

In 2015 a study from the Institute of Diet and Health with some surprising results launched a slew of click bait articles with explosive headlines:

“Chocolate accelerates weight loss” insisted one such headline.

“Scientists say eating chocolate can help you lose weight” declared another.

“Lose 10% More Weight By Eating A Chocolate Bar Every Day…No Joke!” promised yet another.

There was just one problem: This was a joke.

The head researcher of the study, “Johannes Bohannon,” took to io9 in May of that year to reveal that his name was actually John Bohannon, the “Institute of Diet and Health” was in fact nothing more than a website, and the study showing the magical weight loss effects of chocolate consumption was bogus. The hoax was the brainchild of a German television reporter who wanted to “demonstrate just how easy it is to turn bad science into the big headlines behind diet fads.”

Given how widely the study’s surprising conclusion was publicized—from the pages of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper to the TV sets of viewers in Texas and Australia—that demonstration was remarkably successful. But although it’s tempting to write this story off as a demonstration about gullible journalists and the scientific illiteracy of the press, the hoax serves as a window into a much larger, much more troubling story.

That story is The Crisis of Science.

This is The Corbett Report.

What makes the chocolate weight loss study so revealing isn’t that it was completely fake; it’s that in an important sense it wasn’t fake. Bohannes really did conduct a weight loss study and the data really does support the conclusion that subjects who ate chocolate on a low-carb diet lose weight faster than those on a non-chocolate diet. In fact, the chocolate dieters even had better cholesterol readings. The trick was all in how the data was interpreted and reported.

As Bohannes explained in his post-hoax confession:

“Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a ‘statistically significant’ result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels, sleep quality, well-being, etc.—from 15 people. (One subject was dropped.) That study design is a recipe for false positives.”

You see, finding a “statistically significant result” sounds impressive and helps scientists to get their paper published in high-impact journals, but “statistical significance” is in fact easy to fake. If, like Bohannes, you use a small sample size and measure for 18 different variables, it’s almost impossible not to find some “statistically significant” result. Scientists know this, and the process of sifting through data to find “statistically significant” (but ultimately meaningless) results is so common that it has its own name: “p-hacking” or “data dredging.”

But p-hacking only scrapes the surface of the problem. From confounding factors to normalcy bias to publication pressures to outright fraud, the once-pristine image of science and scientists as an impartial font of knowledge about the world has been seriously undermined over the past decade.

Although these types of problems are by no means new, they came into vogue when John Ioannidis, a physician, researcher and writer at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, rocked the scientific community with his landmark paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” The 2005 paper addresses head on the concern that “most current published research findings are false,” asserting that “for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.” The paper has achieved iconic status, becoming the most downloaded paper in the Public Library of Science and launching a conversation about false results, fake data, bias, manipulation and fraud in science that continues to this day.

JOHN IOANNIDIS: This is a paper that is practically presenting a mathematical modeling of what are the chances that a research finding that is published in the literature would be true. And it uses different parameters, different aspects, in terms of: What we know before; how likely it is for something to be true in a field; how much bias are maybe in the field; what kind of results we get; and what are the statistics that are presented for the specific result.

I have been humbled that this work has drawn so much attention and people from very different scientific fields—ranging not just bio-medicine, but also psychological science, social science, even astrophysics and the other more remote disciplines—have been attracted to what that paper was trying to do.

SOURCE: John Ioannidis on Moving Toward Truth in Scientific Research

Since Ioannidis’ paper took off, the “crisis of science” has become a mainstream concern, generating headlines in the mainstream press like The Washington Post, The Economist and The Times Higher Education Supplement. It has even been picked up by mainstream science publications like Scientific American, Nature and phys.org.

So what is the problem? And how bad is it, really? And what does it mean for an increasingly tech-dependent society that something is rotten in the state of science?

To get a handle on the scope of this dilemma, we have to realize that the “crisis” of science isn’t a crisis at all, but a series of interrelated crises that get to the heart of the way institutional science is practiced today.

First, there is the Replication Crisis.

This is the canary in the coalmine of the scientific crisis in general because it tells us that a surprising percentage of scientific studies, even ones published in top-tier academic journals that are often thought of as the gold standard for experimental research, cannot be reliably reproduced. This is a symptom of a larger crisis because reproducibility is considered to be a bedrock of the scientific process.

In a nutshell, an experiment is reproducible if independent researchers can run the same experiment and get the same results at a later date. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why this is important. If an experiment is truly revealing some fundamental truth about the world then that experiment should yield the same results under the same conditions anywhere and at any time (all other things being equal).

Well, not all things are equal.

In the opening years of this decade, the Center for Open Science led a team of 240 volunteer researchers in a quest to reproduce the results of 100 psychological experiments. These experiments had all been published in three of the most prestigious psychology journals. The results of this attempt to replicate these experiments, published in 2015 in a paper on “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science,” were abysmal. Only 39 of the experimental results could be reproduced.

Worse yet for those who would defend institutional science from its critics, these results are not confined to the realm of psychology. In 2011, Nature published a paper showing that researchers were only able to reproduce between 20 and 25 per cent of 67 published preclinical drug studies. They published another paper the next year with an even worse result: researchers could only reproduce six of a total of 53 “landmark” cancer studies. That’s a reproducibility rate of 11%.

These studies alone are persuasive, but the cherry on top came in May 2016 when Nature published the results of a survey of over 1,500 scientists finding fully 70% of them had tried and failed to reproduce published experimental results at some point. The poll covered researchers from a range of disciplines, from physicists and chemists to earth and environmental scientists to medical researchers and assorted others.

So why is there such a widespread inability to reproduce experimental results? There are a number of reasons, each of which give us another window into the greater crisis of science.

The simplest answer is the one that most fundamentally shakes the widespread belief that scientists are disinterested truthseekers who would never dream of publishing a false result or deliberately mislead others.

JAMES EVAN PILATO: Survey sheds light on the ‘crisis’ rocking research.

More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. Those are some of the telling figures that emerged from Nature’s survey of 1,576 researchers who took a brief online questionnaire on reproducibility in research.

The data reveal sometimes-contradictory attitudes towards reproducibility. Although 52% of those surveyed agree that there is a significant ‘crisis’ of reproducibility, less than 31% think that failure to reproduce published results means that the result is probably wrong, and most say that they still trust the published literature.

Data on how much of the scientific literature is reproducible are rare and generally bleak. The best-known analyses, from psychology1 and cancer biology2, found rates of around 40% and 10%, respectively.

So the headline of this article, James, that we grabbed from our buddy Doug at BlackListed News: “40 percent of scientists admit that fraud is always or often a factor that contributes to irreproducible research.”

SOURCE: Scientists Say Fraud Causing Crisis of Science – #NewWorldNextWeek

In fact, the data shows that the Crisis of Fraud in scientific circles is even worse than scientists will admit. A study published in 2012 found that fraud or suspected fraud was responsible for 43% of scientific paper retractions, by far the single leading cause of retraction. The study demonstrated a 1000% increase in (reported) scientific fraud since 1975. Together with “duplicate publication” and “plagiarism,” misconduct of one form or another accounted for two-thirds of all retractions.

So much for scientists as disinterested truth-tellers.

Indeed, instances of scientific fraud are cropping up more and more in the headlines these days.

Last year, Kohei Yamamizu of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application was found to have completely fabricated the data for his 2017 paper in the journal Stem Cell Reports, and earlier this year it was found that Yamamizu’s data fabrication was more extensive than previously thought, with a paper from 2012 also being retracted due to doubtful data.

Another Japanese researcher, Haruko Obokata, was found to have manipulated images to get her landmark study on stem cell creation published in Nature. The study was retracted and one of Obokata’s co-authors committed suicide when the fraud was discovered.

Similar stories of fraud behind retracted stem cell papers, molecular-scale transistor breakthroughs, psychological studies and a host of other research calls into question the very foundations of the modern system of peer-reviewed, reproducible science, which is supposed to mitigate fraudulent activity by carefully checking and, where appropriate, repeating important research.

There are a number of reasons why fraud and misconduct is on the rise, and these relate to more structural problems that unveil yet more crises in science.

Like the Crisis of Publication.

We’ve all heard of “publish or perish” by now. It means that only researchers who have a steady flow of published papers to their name are considered for the plush positions in modern-day academia.

This pressure isn’t some abstract or unstated force; it is direct and explicit. Until recently the medical department at London’s Imperial College told researchers that their target was to “publish three papers per annum including one in a prestigious journal with an impact factor of at least five.” Similar guidelines and quotas are enacted in departments throughout academia.

And so, like any quota-based system, people will find a way to cheat their way to the goal. Some attach their names to work they have little to do with. Others publish in pay-to-play journals that will publish anything for a small fee. And others simply fudge their data until they get a result that will grab headlines and earn a spot in a high-profile journal.

It’s easy to see how fraudulent or irreproducible data results from this pressure. The pressure to publish in turn puts pressure on researchers to produce data that will be “new” and “unexpected.” A study finding that drinking 5 cups of coffee a day increases your chance of urinary tract cancer (or decreases your chance of stroke) is infinitely more interesting (and thus publishable) than a study finding mixed results, or no discernible effect. So studies finding a surprising result (or ones that can be manipulated into showing surprising results) will be published and those with negative results will not. This makes it much harder for future scientists to get an accurate assessment of the state of research in any given field, since untold numbers of experiments with negative results never get published, and thus never see the light of day.

But the pressure to publish in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals itself raises the specter of another crisis: The Crisis of Peer Review.

The peer review process is designed as a check against fraud, sloppy research and other problems that arise when journal editors are determining whether to publish a paper. In theory, the editor of the journal passes the paper to another researcher in the same field who can then check that the research is factual, relevant, novel and sufficient for publication.

In practice, the process is never quite so straightforward.

The peer review system is in fact rife with abuse, but few cases are as flagrant as that of Hyung-In Moon. Moon was a medicinal-plant researcher at Dongguk University in Gyeongju, South Korea, who aroused suspicions by the ease with which his papers were reviewed. Most researchers are too busy to review other papers at all, but the editor of The Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry noticed that the reviewers for Moon’s papers were not only always available, but that they usually submitted their review notes within 24 hours. When confronted by the editor about this suspiciously quick work, Moon admitted that he had written most of the reviews himself. He had simply gamed the system, where most journals ask researchers to submit names of potential reviewers for their papers, by creating fake names and email addresses and then submitting “reviews” of his own work.

Beyond the incentivization of fraud and opportunities for gaming the system, however, the peer review process has other, more structural problems. In certain specialized fields there are only a handful of scientists qualified to review new research in the discipline, meaning that this clique effectively forms a team of gatekeepers over an entire branch of science. They often know each other personally, meaning any new research they conduct is certain to be reviewed by one of their close associates (or their direct rivals). This “pal review” system also helps to solidify dogma in echo chambers where the same few people who go to the same conferences and pursue research along the same lines can prevent outsiders with novel approaches from entering the field of study.

In the most egregious cases, as with researchers in the orbit of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, groups of scientists have been caught conspiring to oust an editor from a journal that published papers that challenged their own research and even conspiring to “redefine what the peer-review literature is” in order to stop rival researchers from being published at all.

So, in short: Yes, there is a Replication Crisis in science. And yes, it is caused by a Crisis of Fraud. And yes, the fraud is motivated by a Crisis of Publication. And yes, those crises are further compounded by a Crisis of Peer Review.

But what creates this environment in the first place? What is the driving factor that keeps this whole system going in the face of all these crises? The answer isn’t difficult to understand. It’s the same thing that puts pressure on every other aspect of the economy: funding.

Modern laboratories investigating cutting edge questions involve expensive technology and large teams of researchers. The types of labs producing truly breakthrough results in today’s environment are the ones that are well funded. And there are only two ways for scientists to get big grants in our current system: big business or big government. So it should be no surprise that “scientific” results, so suspectible to the biases, frauds and manipulations that constitute the crises of science, are up for sale by scientists who are willing to provide dodgy data for dirty dollars to large corporations and politically-motivated government agencies.

RFK JR.: “Simpsonwood” was the transcripts of a secret meeting that was held between CDC and 75 representatives of the vaccine industry in which they reviewed a report that CDC had ordered—the Verstraeten study—of a hundred thousand children in the United States vaccine safety database. And when they looked at it themselves, they said, quote: “It is impossible to massage this data to make the signal go away. There is no denying that there is a connection between autism and thimerosal in the vaccines.” And this is what they said. I didn’t say this. This is what their own scientists [said] and their own conclusion of the best doctors, the top people at CDC, the top people at the pharmaceutical injury industry.

And you know, when they had this meeting they had it not in Atlanta—which was the headquarters of the CDC—but in Simpsonwood at a private conference center, because they believed that that would make them able to insulate themselves from a court request under the Freedom of Information Law and they would not have to disclose the transcripts of these meetings to the public. Somebody transcribed the meetings and we were able to get a hold of it. You have them talking about the Verstraeten study and saying there’s a clear link, not just with autism but with the whole range of neurological disorders—speech delay, language delay, all kinds of learning disorders, ADD, hyperactivity disorder—and the injection of these vaccines.

[. . .]and at the end of that meeting they make a few decisions. One is Verstraeten, the man who designed who conducted the study, is hired the next day by GlaxoSmithKline and shipped off to switzerland, and six months later he sends in a redesigned study that includes cohorts who are too young to have been diagnosed as autistic. So he loads the study down, the data down, and they tell the public that they’ve lost all the original data. This is what CDC says till this day: That it does not know what happened to the original data in the Verstraeten study. And they published this other study that is a corrupt and crooked—what we call tobacco science done by a bunch of bio-stitutes, crooked scientists who are trying to fool the American public.

Then Kathleen Stratton from CDC and IOM says “What we need is we need some studies that will disprove the
link.” So they work with the vaccine industry to gin up these four phony European studies that are done by vaccine industry employees, funded by the vaccine industry and published in the American Academy of Pediatrics magazine, which receives 80% of its revenue from the vaccine industry. And none of these scientists disclose any of their myriad conflicts which conventional ethics rules require them to do. It’s not disclosed.

SOURCE: RFK JR. Vaccine Cover Up SIMPSONWOOD MEMO

TOM CLARKE: 64,000 people dead. Tens of thousands hospitalized. A country crippled by a virus.

The predictions of the impact of swine flu on Britain were grim. The government’s response: Spending hundreds of millions of pounds on antiviral drugs and vaccines adverts and leaflets. But ten months into the pandemic, only 355 Britons have died and globally the virus hasn’t lived up to our fears.

Were government’s misled into preparing for the worst? Politicians in Brussels are now asking for an investigation into the role pharmaceutical companies played in influencing political decisions that led to a swine flu spending spree.

WOLFGANG WODARG: There must be a process to to get more transparency [about] how the decisions in the WHO function and who is influencing the decisions of the WHO and what is the role of pharmaceutical industry there. I’m very suspicious about the processes which are behind this pandemic.

TOM CLARKE: The Council of Europe Committee want the investigation to focus on the World Health Organization’s decision to lower the threshold required for a pandemic to be formally declared.

MARGARET CHAN: The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.

REPORTER: When this happened in June last year, government’s had to activate huge, pre-prepared contracts for drugs and vaccines with manufacturers. They also want to probe ties between key WHO advisors and drug companies.

PAUL FLYNN: Who is deciding what the risk is? Is it the pharmaceutical companies who want to sell drugs, or is it someone making a decision based on the perceived danger? In this case it appears that the danger was vastly exaggerated. And was it exaggerated by the pharmaceutical companies in order to make money?

SOURCE: Channel 4 News Exposes Swine Flu Scandal

JAMES CORBETT: And a perfect example of that came out just in the past month where it was discovered, revealed—”Oh my God! Who would have thought it?”—people who consume artificial sweeteners like aspartame are three times more likely to suffer from a common form of stroke than others. Who would have thought it (except everyone who’s been worming warning about aspartame for decades and decades)?

And if you want to know more about aspartame and how it got approved in the first place you can go back and listen to my earlier podcast on “Meet Donald Rumsfeld” where we talked about his role in getting aspartame approved for human consumption in the first place. But yes, now decades later they come out with a study that shows “Well guys, we had no idea, but guess what? It does apparently cause strokes!”

And this is particularly galling, I suppose, because if you go back even a couple of years ago the paper of record, the “Old Gray Lady,” the New York Times (and every other publication, to be fair) that ever tried to address this would always talk about sweeteners as being better than sugar for you. And they would point to a handful of studies. The same studies every time, including—I mean, just as one example this 2007 study which was a peer review study [that went] through various different studies that had been published, and this was done by a “panel of experts” as it was said at the time. And it was cited in all of these different reports by the New York Times and others as showing that aspartame was even safer than sugar and blah blah blah. And when you actually looked at the study itself you found that—lo and behold!—the “panel of experts” was put together by something called “the burdock group” which was a consulting firm that worked for the food industry amongst others and was in that particular instance hired by ajinomoto, who people might know as a producer of aspartame.

So, yes, you have the aspartame manufacturers hiring consultants to put together panels of scientific scientific experts that then come out with the conclusion that, “Yes! Aspartame is sweet as honey and good for you like breathing oxygen. It’s just so wonderful! Oh, it’s like manna from heaven!” And lo and behold they were lying. Who would have thought it? Who would have imagined that the scientific process could be so thoroughly corrupted?

SOURCE: The Weaponization of “Science”

Sadly, there is no lack of examples of how commercial interests have skewed research in a range of disciplines.

In some cases, inconvenient data is simply hidden from the public. This was what happened with “Project 259,” a feeding experiment in which lab rats were separated into two groups: One was given a high-sugar diet and the other was given a so-called “basic PRM diet” of cereal meals, soybean meals, whitefish meal, and dried yeast. The results were astounding. Not only did the study provide the first experimental evidence that sugar and starch are actually metabolized differently, but it also found that “sucrose [. . .] may have a role in the pathogenesis of bladder cancer.” But Project 259 was being funded by something called the “Sugar Research Foundation,” which has organizational ties to the trade association of the US sugar industry. As a result, the study was shelved, the results were kept from the public and it took 51 years for the experiment to be dug up by researchers and published.  But this was too late for the generation of victims that The Sugar Conspiracy created, raised on a low-fat, high sugar diet that is now known to be toxic.

In other cases, industry secretly sponsors and even covertly promotes questionable research that bolsters claims to their product’s safety. This is the case of Johnson & Johnson, which was facing a potential scandal over revelations that its baby powder contained asbestos.  They hired an Italian physician to conduct a study on the health of talc miners in the Italian Alps, and even told him what the study should find: data that “would show that the incidence of cancer in these subjects is no different from that of the Italian population or the rural control group.” When the physician came back with the data as instructed, J&J were unhappy with the form and style of the study’s write up, so they handed it to a scientific ghostwriter to prepare it for publication.  The ghostwritten paper was then published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the research was cited by a review article in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine later that year, which concluded that there is no evidence suggesting that the “normal use” of cosmetic talc poses a health hazard. That review article was written by Gavin Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had commissioned the Italian study, dictated its findings and sent it out for ghostwriting. Dr. Hildick-Smith failed to disclose this conflict in his review article, however.

The list of such egregious abuses of “scientific” institutions and processes is seemingly endless, with more stories surfacing on a weekly basis. Websites like Retraction Watch attempt to document fraud and misconduct in science as it is revealed, but stories about the corporate hand behind key research studies or conspiracies to cover up inconvenient research are reported in a haphazard fashion and generally receive little traction with the public.

But these are not new issues. There have been those warning us about the dangerous confluence of money, government power and science since the birth of the modern era.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

SOURCE: Eisenhower Farewell Address

In his prescient warning, Eisenhower not only gave a name to the “military-industrial complex” that has been working to steer American foreign policy since the end of the second World War, but he also warned how the government can shape the course of scientific research with its funding. Is it any wonder, then, that military contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are among the leading funders in cutting edge research in nanotechnology, quantum computing, “human systems optimization” and other important scientific endeavors? Or that the Pentagon’s own Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency provides billions of dollars per year to help find military applications for breakthroughs in computer science, molecular biology, robotics and other high-cost scientific research?

And what does this mean for researchers who are looking to innovate in areas that do not have military or commercial use?

Yes, there is not just one crisis of science, but multiple crises. And, like many other crises, they find a common root in the pressures that come from funding large-scale, capital-intensive, industrial research.

But this is not simply a problem of money, and it will not be solved by money. There are deeper social, political and structural roots of this crisis that will need to be addressed before we understand how to truly mitigate these problems and harness the transformative power of scientific research to improve our lives. In the next edition of The Corbett Report, we will examine and dissect the various proposals for solving the crisis of science.

Solving this crisis—these crises—is important. The scientific method is valuable. We should not throw out the baby of scientific knowledge with the bathwater of scientific  corruption. But we need to stop treating science as a magic 8-ball that can solve all of our societal and political problems. And we need to stop venerating scientists as a quasi-priest class whose dictates are beyond question by the unwashed masses.

After all, when an Ipsos MORI poll found that nine out of ten British people would trust scientists to “follow the rules,” even Nature‘s editorial board was compelled to ask: “How many scientists would say the same?”

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  1. zyxzevn says:

    Great video.
    Again I have a lot of information about this.
    So time try to get just under the maximum word count.. 😉

    A lot about corruption in science is on:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/corruptscience/

    Why do scientists lie?
    Scientists are humans, and have their reasons.
    Within powerful positions there are also sociopaths. They are often
    smart and claim to be good scientists. But they use their skills to
    push an agenda.
    Usually the scientific research starts with a small lie, just to make
    up for the problems of producing a positive result. Then it grows
    slowly into fraud, hidden by the power of statistics.

    The medicine (and health) industry is really bad with this as shown
    in this great video.

    The environment industry is linked with big companies that push
    their own agenda. I think they have been slowly infiltrated by
    these companies and lured with financial support.

    Then we have the nuclear power industry. A lot of incidents in
    the US are very secret, so many in in the US think that their
    versions of Chernobyl never happened.

    In computer science we have the science fiction of quantum
    computing, that is now the target of many investments and hype.
    This paper explains why it is all just hype:
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/the-case-against-quantum-computing
    (there are no solutions for some major problems)

    I listed the long list of problems with health and non-ionizing
    radiation in a previous post. See also http://www.microwavenews.com/
    It does not only show problems in the research being done, with their
    biases. But it also shows that we have a lack of understanding of the
    underlying biological system. A lack that has been put there on
    purpose it seems, as CIA documents clearly show that there is a link
    between such non-ionizing radiation and cellular damage.

    There are also problems in the “hard” sciences.
    I summarized these problem in physics on this wiki:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/plasmacosmology/wiki/
    It shows that astronomy already fails with the first star,
    our Sun.

    So yes. There is really a huge crisis in science,
    and it affects EVERY branch.

  2. Corbett says:

    Typo alert for those watching the video: Eisenhower’s Farewell Address was in 1961, obviously, not 1967.

  3. manbearpig says:

    What’s worse than “Dodgy data for dirty dollars”?

    Diligently derived decent but damning data that disappears…

    ?

    hamsterwheel harkens…

  4. n4x5 says:

    In addition to industry / government incentives, echo chambers, ingroup bias, and fraudulent research put out by capable-but-corrupt scientists, I would emphasize that simple charlatanism and incompetence are rampant as well. A moribund education system that fails to identify and correct these issues before they propagate is a huge factor. Academically poor grad students, with sufficient connection-making and overconfidence, can go on to become poor research group leads and oversee new generations of their own grad students. I’ve seen it happen.

    In my own experience, these kinds of problems are more or less openly recognized and discussed among scientists themselves but too infrequently capture the attention of outsiders. More to the point, I’ve noticed that laymen often do not want to hear about the flaws and failures, as if doing so would jeopardize their reverence for this body of people trusted to provide answers. This mirrors the head-in-the-sand attitude we observe in that part of the public that refuses to scrutinize the motives and methods of the media.

    “[W]e need to stop treating science as a magic eight-ball that can solve all of our societal and political problems, and we need to stop venerating scientists as a quasi-priest class whose dictates are beyond question by the unwashed masses.” Amen. Well done.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      n4x5 says:
      “…I would emphasize that simple charlatanism and incompetence are rampant as well. A moribund education system that fails to identify and correct these issues before they propagate is a huge factor. Academically poor grad students, with sufficient connection-making and overconfidence, can go on to become poor research group leads and oversee new generations of their own grad students. I’ve seen it happen….”

      Excellent point. I too have noticed this at the Universities!
      Heck, it is actually plain to see when one looks at Dentists who use mercury and advocate swallowing fluoride, or Doctors who continually prescribe pharma drugs which have wild, adverse health affects.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      Mercury Fillings in Dentistry continues to be promoted by the ADA and sanctioned by U.S. government agencies.

      Killing and harming patients.
      Unfortunately, dentists are prohibited by their state dental boards from passing along manufacturer warnings to their patients.

      David Barnes, DDS, sued Defendant Kerr Corp., the largest manufacturer of dental amalgam in the United States, alleging that he had suffered a myriad of neuro-psychological injuries as a result of his occupational exposure to mercury. Kerr’s material safety data sheets and product inserts warned that mercury is a skin sensitizer, pulmonary sensitizer, nephrotoxin, and neurotoxin. Dr. Barnes argued that the warnings were inadequate because they discussed only mercury, not mixed dental amalgam. He testified that he was taught in dental school that mixed dental amalgam was inert and did not present a health risk. Kerr argued that its warnings never represented that mercury was any less toxic when mixed with the other constituents of dental amalgam.

      The District Court dismissed Dr. Barnes’s claims on the ground that Kerr’s warnings were adequate as a matter of law. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling, finding that “Kerr’s warnings [did not state] that mercury would be any less toxic when mixed with the other constituents of dental amalgam.”

      (2 minute video which summarizes the lawsuit mentioned above.)from “Evidence of Harm YouTube Channel”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r50AOqFlOQI

      (By the way, the IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) is a wonderful organization. Their IAOMT YouTube Channel has some very interesting lectures.)

      • zyxzevn says:

        Chubbyemu has an interesting channel on health hazards:
        A Scientist Spilled 2 Drops Organic Mercury On Her Hand. This Is What Happened To Her Brain.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ7M01jV058
        She just dropped a bit on her gloved hands, did not see any traces on her skin.
        Dimethylmercury See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethylmercury
        is a very toxic chemical compound that dissolves in fat and tissue.
        During few months, the symptoms go slowly from autism to full brain damage to coma to death.

        This is one of the most toxic mercury compounds, and thiomersal is a chemical variant that is used in vaccines.
        See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal
        “Cases have been reported of severe mercury poisoning by accidental exposure or attempted suicide, with some fatalities.[22] Animal experiments suggest that thiomersal rapidly dissociates to release ethylmercury after injection; that the disposition patterns of mercury are similar to those after exposure to equivalent doses of ethylmercury chloride; and that the central nervous system and the kidneys are targets, with lack of motor coordination being a common sign. Similar signs and symptoms have been observed in accidental human poisonings. The mechanisms of toxic action are unknown.”

        It gets funnier:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylmercury
        “The toxicity of ethylmercury, for instance as it derives in vivo from thimerosal, is not well studied, and for many years, studies of methylmercury were used as a basis to predict the safety and estimate the risk of thimerosal use. Methylmercury and ethylmercury distribute to all body tissues, crossing the blood–brain barrier and the placental barrier, and ethylmercury also moves freely throughout the body.[3] Risk assessment for effects on the human nervous system have been made by extrapolating from dose-response relationships for methylmercury.[4] Clifton has offered the estimate that ethylmercury clears from blood with a half-life of seven to 10 days in adult humans.[5]

        However, preliminary direct evidence from a 2005 animal study, subsequently summarised in an NIAID fact sheet on the use of thimerosal, suggested that methylmercury is an inadequate reference compound for evaluating the toxicology of ethylmercury, because the two compounds differ significantly in the ratio of organic to inorganic mercury each produces in the brain, as well as in their individual tissue distributions and clearance rates.[6][7][8][9] Taken together, the researchers conclude from their monkey study of ADME for inoculated thimerosal-derived ethylmercury and the stomach-administered methylmercury that past and ongoing studies of methylmercury are unsuitable as a basis for evaluating thimerosal toxicity, and that thimerosal risk assessment “based on blood mercury measurements may not be valid”

        Not well studied… maybe to prevent profit loss?

        Because even the most toxic variant takes so long to show its harm, it is likely that these other variants may take years before they really show their harm. So easy to P-hack.

        The half-times that are often used in these sciences, show only how much mercury is released from the body, and not how much is left and how much harm it is doing.
        The harm can be anything, and only some cases will resemble autism. Other cases will resemble depression?, violence?, will-less? So it is hard to detect.
        One thing is for sure: It gives stupidity to people working with it.

  5. AnimalsArentFood says:

    Not that your work isn’t always incredible but this one nearly brought a tear to my eye.
    It is so desperately needed right now.
    A perfect pill of sanity for the ever-increasing madness of mainstream “science” and its devout followers.

    • ekawAediW says:

      I didn’t know it was possible, but James has truly outdone himself with this report. Simply breathtaking work.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      I am on board with ya’ll, AnimalsArentFood and ekawAediW.

      This video contained emotional impact.
      That is an important quality in this type of communication.

      AAF says: “nearly brought a tear to my eye.” Me too, especially after the Robert Kennedy, Jr. clip.

  6. FIW says:

    Yet another outstanding and very relevant video. Looking forward to the sequencial.

  7. albus says:

    Definitely some good info here, especially in regards to the push for publications in esteemed journals to climb up the totem pole. However, I am not inclined to think the corruption is systemic to scientific research, as it is erroneous to assume people lack moral standards and decency and sacrifice honest inquiry for monetary gain. Some always do, but most don’t.

    I do not dispute there is an issue, as I have personally seen the struggle and stress good researchers go through to get funding, and such pressure entices desperate people to cheat. It is so unfortunate we as a country (US) spend as much as we do on degenerates and warfare that this has become a problem in the first place. I think community funding for scientific studies is a possible solution, just as this site and other pursuits are crowd funded.

    Unfortunately, we as the general populace must also stop cherry picking scientific results that support our own bias. Oh look how flawed science is, but look vaccines cause adhd and autism and artificial sweeteners cause strokes! Money is only half of the problem.

    • zyxzevn says:

      On school and university we learn to conform to the teachers and the expected results.

      And we learn to cheat in many ways.

      This could be finding the questions in the test and learning their answers. Or adapting the results of our answers to the results that are expected. If you fail to repeat the expected, you simply fail the tests.

      We also learn to remove all experimental results that were not really expected. We learn to work towards the expected answers and avoid all alternatives.

      Without these cheats you fail in university and you will not get your PhD.

      Now if you become a “professional” scientist, you will certainly repeat these cheats. And add new ones, if they help you progress.

      At no time you will think that you cheated, because it has become part of your methodology.

      And when someone comes with alternative conclusions, you criticize the messenger. He is not following the cheating protocol, that helped to conform and reach the expected conclusions. So you start to talk him/her out of it, and teach the messenger how to conform.
      Alternative theories can always be dumped as pseudo-science, and must need “extraordinary evidence”. Things that you will never even look at.

      If this does not work, and the messenger has good evidence, this becomes a huge problem. The person now threatens “your science” and this can cause unreasonable anger against the messenger.
      If you are reasonable, you will first write many ways in which the evidence is false and should be ignored.
      If that does not stop the messenger, you will start writing articles on how bad the education is of this person, and warn people not to listen to his/her ideas.

      Now add money and career to all this…
      and you have got the mess that we are currently in.

  8. Catbert says:

    Check out Nina Teicholz and some of her commentary on nutrition “science”, especially the Minnesota Coronary Survey, the results of which were buried for years.

  9. black sheep says:

    Well James.
    Having worked in a university research lab for several years….
    Your spot on (as is so often the case).

  10. Darko says:

    Science in Serbia says you need to vaccinate your children . If you do not then you are fined up to 1200 euros which is 2-3 times avarage salary here in Serbia . Yesterday mother of 6 children who did not vaccinate children and refused to pay fine was arrested and sent to jail for 30 days …
    There are no articles about this in english yet but I guess google translate can give you some picture about this case

    https://www.republika.rs/hronika/hronika/119174/video-uhapsena-majka-sestoro-dece-loznice-ide-zatvor-jer-nije-platila-kaznu-nevakcinisanje

    https://www.telegraf.rs/vesti/hronika/3036366-uhapsena-majka-6-dece-iz-loznice-osudjena-na-30-dana-zatvora-jer-nije-platila-kaznu-zbog-nevakcinisanja-video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98Em4vlxUBE

    • mkey says:

      30 days in the slammer for (instead of) 1200€ and 6 healthy kids. That’s only 5 days per child.

      • Darko says:

        Unfortunatelly it does not work that way . These 30 days are only for 1 sentence issued for not allowing 1 particular vaccine ( MMR ) being given to youngest child . There are 12 vaccines given by the age of 2 . They can charge and penalise you for every single vaccine you refuse and every next time penalty is bigger . What happens is next -you do not pay -you go to jail-you lose job and are not able to raise and take care of your children – your children are being taken away to another family …

    • CQ says:

      That is horrible, Darko. It confirms for me why one must never be deceived into believing that “government” is installed to do good things for “its people.” I truly pity the Serbs, including that poor woman and her children, and strongly dispute that false version of “science.”

      P.S. The only connection I have with Serbia is that I contribute, through US-based Harmony Fund, a sum each year that helps Sasha (English spelling) Pejcic to continue feeding the hundreds of street dogs he saves and loves back to life at his free-running canine sanctuary. I hope he’s not forced to have the dear dogs vaccinated!

  11. mrsoapdish says:

    So, I spent years working with statistical data for a premier research facility for the DoD. More specifically, my role was to basically “break” algorithms. We did this by running Monte-Carlo simulations and observing how the introduction of an algorithm would affect statistical outcomes. This was inside a legacy simulation which was so incredibly complex that I actually saw it predict a real failure case which happened in a physical test! This substantiated the failure mode, and as a result, the issue was addressed in the physical system.

    This simulation had extremely complex physical systems modeling, to the extent which, we could turn on or off pretty much any environmental effects we deemed necessary or not for a particular study. This was always driven by the program office and not our department. For this reason, it was called a “multi” fidelity simulation, meaning that whichever fidelity was desired, we could assign the level prior to execution of the simulation. As I mentioned, this was frighteningly accurate, and in fact, some of my former colleagues have gone into the autonomous vehicle industry and we have an alarming rate of how technology is being introduced into our vehicles without significant testing or proof of safety…but that’s another topic. The takeaway here is that when we would crank up fidelity and turn on all of these ‘real world’ effects, survivability for the system dropped to the low 10-20%. So requests for studies always were done without these effects enabled.

    Now for the part which, as they say, hindsight is 20-20 and inside a culture of doing things one way, you sometimes become accepting that “it’s just the way it is”. We rarely thought of the “why”, we were simply busy working to show results from ordered studies, and in that sense, we were like an ordered service. We were a cog in the system and could only do what was requested. Ideally, our department could have been used to basically stop a particular design from ever happening, but that rarely happened, save on small pet-projects. This was a seriously major project in the arms race so nobody wanted the truth from us. They basically used our data to justify a budget. Not only were studies requested at a shallow level of fidelity but the results were always presented with visible and defined input parameters, however, the issue here was, to an uneducated audience outside of our expertise, little to no significance as to how these input parameters truly affected an outcome ever surfaced, because it was never requested in the first place. It was defacto to leave these parameters off for major studies.

    Fast forward to recent days, I saw in the news that the over-arching program was considered a major failure. I thought back through those days. We could have told them when and where their system was failing but basically, the program would never have gotten traction and thousands of people would not have been spending money chasing defense budget ghosts.

    Years prior, one of my professors left teaching at a major University for Industry because he was being forced to publish. He later came back to teach in a smaller regional University which is where I met him. He went there because at least there he was allowed to “teach and not publish” in his own words. This man was at one point the principle Non-Destructive Evaluation investigator for the Titan missile seal integrity after the Challenger disaster. His ethics on science always stuck with me and I always felt so helpless at the job I mentioned above when I was dealing with constraints placed on an entire department by the program office. This corruption is always found by chasing down the dollar.

    I always wonder, after experiencing that, just how many programs, especially in the defense budget, are riddled with corrupt leaders who specifically tailor the perception of the audience to justify funding. Oh, one other interesting thing about the Budget, totally unrelated to this conversation…but we were always in a bind at fiscal year’s end to spend up all of our Budget. If you didn’t they would SHRINK it the following year, instead of keeping it the same. The managers would come around and ask us to look for ways to spend money. Talk about wasteful!

    • mkey says:

      Regarding your last paragraph, I can confirm this pattern is present in various failed states across the globe. I know it only thanks to related professional experience where allotted funds have to be fully spent if you wish not to suffer a cut in the next year’s budget. Usually, from what I observed, these funds weren’t completely wasted, but spent on various maintenance operation, most of which were essential but usually delayed as long as possible.

      The way these politicians and their lackeys see the world has nothing to do with what the rest of us see. It’s not their hard earned funny money, it’s not their ass on the line, they will not be held accountable and they have no conscience.

    • CQ says:

      Thank you for sharing these grim experiences, mrsoapdish. This is the kind of comment that confirms why James calls followers of his work “Corbetteers.” (Notice I didn’t say “his followers,” which could imply we’re into cultish personality worship. No pedestals are allowed to be constructed on this website.)

  12. mkey says:

    Tin foil hat? No mate, I’m using graphene sheets, thank you very much.

    Energy Scavenging With A Graphene Sheet
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXmchQ1jNSM

  13. HomeRemedySupply says:

    NEWS – Feb 25, 2019
    (I got this from Robert F Kennedy, Jr’s Twitter)

    Monsanto: judge threatens to ‘shut down’ cancer patient’s lawyer –
    Judge in Roundup maker’s first federal trial had banned discussion of the company’s alleged manipulation of science

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/25/monsanto-federal-trial-roundup-cancer

    EXCERPTS
    …In an extraordinary move in a packed San Francisco courtroom on Monday, US judge Vince Chhabria threatened to sanction and “shut down” a cancer patient’s attorney for violating his ban on talking about Monsanto’s influence on government regulators and cancer research…

    …In a blow to the plaintiffs, Chhabria this year approved Monsanto’s request to prohibit Hardeman’s attorneys from raising allegations about the corporation’s conduct, saying issues about its influence on science and government were a “significant … distraction”. That means jurors must narrowly consider the studies surrounding Roundup’s cancer risks, and if they rule that Monsanto caused Hardeman’s illness, then in a second phase the jury would learn about the company’s conduct when assessing liability and punitive damages…

    …The restrictions on testimony about Monsanto’s conduct and alleged manipulation of science is likely to be a major detriment to Hardeman and future plaintiffs, said Jean M Eggen, professor emerita at Widener University Delaware Law School.
    “It was a brilliant move on the part of the defendant Bayer to try to keep [out] all of that information,” she said. “And it may pay off for them.”

  14. daviddss says:

    It is not the role of peer review to detect fraud. Reviewers only look for mistakes in papers. Actual fraud in scientific work is very rare. Scientists have neither the training or the resources necessary to detect fraud.

    Also, bias introduced by p-hacking and by only publishing significant findings can be detected and adjusted for using statistical techniques, when several published papers cover a topic. Organizations that offer treatment recommendations typically use meta-analysis to combine all appropriate results in a field. See, for example, https://www.cochrane.org/

    Any analysis of these problems must separate bias, that is unconscious, from fraud. A good scientists wants colleagues to find errors in their results. Frauds try to avoid being detected, of course.

  15. daviddss says:

    It is irresponsible to promote anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. There has been a resurgence of serious infectious disease as result of this nonsense. A lot of children have become seriously ill or died as a result of this being taken seriously. Even if there is some harm from vaccination – and this isn’t widely accepted – the harm from an epidemic in an unprotected population would be orders of magnitude higher. Any bio-medical intervention carries a risk. Failure to also consider the benefits is irresponsible and simply bad reporting.

    • mkey says:

      You can obviously back this up with some serious data.
      For example, 30 something people catching measles is not an outbreak in my book.

      • generalbottlewasher says:

        Daviddss & Mkey. The very imbalanced articles in the Cochran report seem heavily in favor of Big Pharma. I too must ask if you read the articles with an unbiased mind? Which leads me to wonder about the vaccination information not being read.
        There was a nice video testimony to the Washington State panel where a Dr. ? Back? ? She did not appear to be irresponsible in her testimony. Do you believe Robt.F.Kennedy Jr. is irresponcible Daviddss? Please explain your concerns so we may better understand.

        • generalbottlewasher says:

          Sorry Daviddss, the doctors testomony to Washington state house was Dr. Tony Bark.

          Mkey: 19 more have contracted the measles in Tacamo Wa.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      VACCINES
      daviddss,
      I encourage you to do some research into the vaccine issue.
      It is evident that there is a lot of information of which you are not aware.

      Choice. Actually, many people are not “anti” vaccine, but demand that they have a choice.
      And many demand that vaccines are “safety studied” of which they definitely are not.
      (As for me… There is no way I want mercury or aluminum or formaldehyde or rogue live viruses unnaturally, directly injected into my circulatory system.)

      Health and Human Services (CDC, FDA, NIH, etc.)
      HHS Vaccine Safety Responsibilities
      This is a recent letter addressing concerns regarding vaccines. The documentation is unimpeachable.
      https://icandecide.org/hhs/ICAN-Reply.pdf

      The “ICanDecide.org” website mentioned above has more information.

      If you enjoy video with colorful, interesting tidbits, you might check out “The Highwire with Del Bigtree” YouTube.

    • zyxzevn says:

      Small summary:

      It is about safety.
      The best Vaccine is mother-milk.

      Vaccines help to protect the receiver against specific viruses. And can be very good against deadly and harmful diseases.
      Keep people carrying diseases separate at home is the best way to prevent spreading.

      Too much of a hygienic environment can also cause auto-immunity.

      The side-effect of commercial vaccines can be caused by many aggressive
      substances, which may cause harm to certain people under some circumstances.
      The fear is that Mercury and other substances may cause permanent damage to nerves and such. And that they can stay in the body for a long time (like in body fat), causing harm when released (like burning fat).

      Additionally the “weakened” viruses can sometimes still revive, and the substances usually weaken the immune system. This can cause diseases. Some were even infected.

      Certain vaccines may not be helpful or effective at all (due to p-hacking). The danger of viruses might be largely overrated. A virus is hard to detect.

      The medicine industry is using outdated safety data and test the control group with all vaccine ingredients. So the harm does not show in any tests.
      They are legally almost free from responsibilities. The HIV containing vaccines did even not put the US people in prison.

      People with concerns about safety of vaccines are attacked.
      Industry keeps budgets to buy out victims with secrecy agreements.
      Ingredients and quality are often kept secret (patents).

      Bad nutrition and pollution are not well investigated (see Flint-water),
      because it does not give them profit. This can skew much of the data.

      • zyxzevn says:

        Found this good writing on reddit:
        Assumptions I had when I was a pro-vaxxer
        https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/aw1dqm/assumptions_i_had_when_i_was_a_provaxxer/

        Summary:

        1. I assumed that vaccines were the most tested thing ever for safety.
        2. I assumed that they studied vaccines for the cumulative effects of the entire CDC schedule.
        3. I assumed that during the FDA safety trials, that vaccines were tested against a real placebo, like drugs are.
        4. I assumed that vaccines did not cause autism and the science was settled.
        5. I assumed that the medical community was aware of vaccine injury
        6. I assumed that doctors would want to know the cause of the kid’s problems.
        7. I assumed that doctors would grant medical vaccine exemptions to people who have been injured by vaccines.
        8. Speaking of VAERS, I assumed doctors knew about it and used it.
        9. I assumed that the CDC, or FDA, SOMEBODY followed up on these injuries.
        10. I assumed that the pharmaceutical companies had some oversight.

        See article for links.

  16. HomeRemedySupply says:

    NEWS Reuters
    March 13th, 2019
    Regarding Baby Powder
    and jiving with Corbett’s …In other cases, industry secretly sponsors and even covertly promotes questionable research that bolsters claims to their product’s safety. This is the case of Johnson & Johnson, which was facing a potential scandal over revelations that its baby powder contained asbestos. They hired an Italian physician to conduct a study on the health of talc miners in the Italian Alps, and even told him what the study should find: data that “would show that the incidence of cancer in these subjects is no different from that of the Italian population or the rural control group.”….

    California jury awards $29 million to woman with cancer who used J&J talc
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-cancer-lawsuit/california-jury-orders-jj-to-pay-29-million-in-latest-talc-cancer-trial-idUSKCN1QV016

    EXCERPTS
    …The verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, marks the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide.

    J&J said it would appeal, citing “serious procedural and evidentiary errors”…

    …“The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover- up, deception and concealment by J&J.”

    Leavitt’s was the first talc case to go to trial since Reuters on Dec. 14 published a report detailing that J&J knew that the talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from the 1970s into the early 2000s – test results it did not disclose to regulators or consumers….

  17. kropotkin says:

    In addition I’m adding a link to “The Science Delusion”.
    Banned on TED – so it must have struck a chord.

    https://www.sheldrake.org/reactions/tedx-whitechapel-the-banned-talk

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