A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says what Gaia Health has been saying: Science has been corrupted. All too often, its master is not the search for truth, but is the industries that use a wide range of subtle and not-so-subtle techniques to get the results they want. Science has become Pseudo Science.
Note: A video based on this article can be seen here.
The truth is damned if it runs counter to the industry of profits. The title of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) report echoes the severity of the situation in its title, “Heads They Win, Tails We Lose”. The report describes the problem like this:
Unfortunately, censorship of scientists
and the manipulation, distortion, and suppression of
scientific information has threatened the federal scientific enterprise in recent years.
They don’t detail the incredible harm it’s doing to the people, the true victims of pseudo science.
They describe several ways in which science has been abused:
We’ll focus on what they have to say about outright corruption.
Corporations have controlled what research results are disseminated. In particular, they have withheld results that “would threaten their bottom line”.
Scientists and the institutions that employ them are harassed. Scientists are threatened with lawsuits and losing their jobs. Their research is defunded. They aren’t promoted or don’t receive tenure, and they’re transferred out of research. Naturally, all of this results in self-censorship.
Studies are designed and rules for running research projects are manipulated to assure results to the liking of the funding corporations. Even the questions that researchers ask in their studies are changed.
Scientific journals frequently utilize ghostwriters to publish articles that both spin study results and obscure the connection between studies and the corporations behind them.
The science journals themselves are guilty of ignoring most negative results, though such information can be every bit as important as the results of studies that reach the conclusions expected.
“Heads They Win, Tails We Lose” includes many examples from the world of medicine. Here are some:
Between 1998 and 2002, GSK had five trials of Paxil done. Four of them were negative; that is, they were unable to show efficacy for the drug. Those four trials even documented the elevated suicide risk. One trial had mixed results. GSK only allowed that one to be published. The FDA could do nothing about it because the company had required the scientists to sign confidentiality agreements.
Boots hoped to demonstrate that its thyroid medication, Synthroid, was more effective than other such drugs and worth its excessive price. They commissioned Dr. Betty Dong, of the University of California – San Francisco, to test it. Her research didn’t go the way Boots wanted, so they ordered her not to publish the results. She refused and they threatened her with a lawsuit. That stayed her hand for several years. Of course, until she was able to publish, doctors prescribed and patients took the drug thinking they were getting something superior for the excessive price.
Agouron Pharmaceuticals: Remune (diabetes drug)
The clinical trial of the HIV drug, Remune, showed that it was not effective. The researcher published the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The drug’s developer, Agouron Pharmaceuticals, retaliated by suing him.
In 2000, Dr. John Buse, University of North Carolina, published a study documenting that people who took Avandia had a high risk of heart disease. GSK contacted his boss, accused Buse of lying, and threatened to sue for the $4 billion drop in the company’s stock value. It wasn’t until 2010 that the an FDA advisory panel recommended recalling the drug, but the FDA merely put restrictions on its availability.
A marketing team in the Merck pharmaceutical corporation developed a strategy to exaggerate the effects of Vioxx for the purpose of increasing the changes for FDA approval. Part of that plan was to design a trial that compared Vioxx to naproxen, an over the counter drug. The result of that deeply flawed trial was to give the impression that naproxen decreases the risk of heart attack by 80%, in spite of the fact that existing trials had documented no heart benefit. By comparing Vioxx to naproxen, the false image was produced of a drug that doesn’t harm the heart.
Vioxx was finally pulled from the market in 2004 after tens of thousands of people had died, and many who took it are still suffering heart problems today.
Merck used ghostwriters extensively to push Vioxx in medical journals. Of 20 ghostwritten Vioxx articles, 16 listed a scientist as the author. Worse, these papers included analyses of the research and had been written before the scientists were involved.
Pfizer manipulated the publication of 15 case studies, 6 case reports, and 9 letters to the editor for the use of Neurontin. As a result, use of it grew from 430,000 to 6 million patients per year. An investigation documented that negative results were not published, outcomes were reported selectively, and patients who were expected to do poorly on their drug were not included in the analyses. They also failed to report that Neurontin increases the risk of suicide.
The impression that many studies had been done on Risperdal was accomplished by producing reports in six different publications under different author names for a single trial.
Nature published an article by University of California – Berkeley graduate student David Quist showing that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn was contaminating native corn in Mexico. Nature received several letters to the editor and internet comments from people identifying themselves as Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek. Because of the backlash, Nature produced an editorial saying that they should not have published the report.
It turned out that Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek were actually from a public relations firm called The Bivings Group, which specialized in online publicity and worked for Monsanto. The names were fake.
“Heads They Win, Tails We Lose” cites example after example of how science is perverted. This article focuses primarily on Big Pharma, but the examples come from a wide arena, including tobacco, oil, coal, and endangered species. It is simply overwhelming how utterly corrupt modern science has become. When there’s money to be made, science is corrupted to produce results that increase the profits.
Unfortunately, for solutions, the report is focused on a government that it has acknowledged is complicit in the corruption. The deep financial ties of multinational corporations with every aspect of the US government are clearly demonstrated in the report. Regulating agencies are virtually owned by them. Corporate money determines what laws are passed and how they’re administered.
Therefore, none of their solutions stands a snowball’s chance of being implemented. The only solutions can come from us, the people. We need to make sure that fake science is not slavishly followed.
Whenever you see studies that purportedly prove a point, keep in mind that studies showing the opposite were likely suppressed, and that positive ones could easily be dishonest. When you see glowing reports of new drugs and treatments in the news, assume that they’re not legitimate. The odds are that they aren’t. When a scientist is famous and propounding on the benefits of something, ask whether he or she is profiting from it directly, or is otherwise funded by the company hoping to profit from it.
When our doctors prescribe treatments, don’t blindly accept their claims that they’re evidence-based. In reality, most of that so-called evidence is from corrupted science. Do your own research. Ask questions. Don’t just follow the crowd.
The primary tool being used is, in fact, not the corruption of science, but the marginalization of anyone who questions it. To refuse to accept the dictates of corrupted science marks a person as “someone different”, someone not to be trusted. That’s the risk you take by questioning.
But, if you hope to protect yourself against the harm done at the behest of the plutocrats, there’s little choice but to refuse to accept most of the tripe being passed off as science.
Tagged heads i win tails you lose report, manipulation of science, negative results, pseudo-science, pseudoscience, science corruption, science ghostwriting, union of concern scientists, union of concerned scientists corruption