Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The journal Science reports another fraud case

The journal Science reports another case of science fraud in the 25 March 05 issue (Volume 307). At page 1851, there is discussion of Eric Poehlman, formerly of Vermont College of Medicine, who admittted to falsifying data in 15 federal grant applications and numerous published articles. There was fraud in article in 1995 Annals of Internal Medicine that suggested hormone replacement therapy could prevent declines in energy expenditure and increase
in body fat during menopause (many of the women in the "study" simply were fabricated; they did not exist]

Science stated: Journal editors say it's hard to guard against such
misconduct. A rigorous review process can only do so
much, say Harold Sox, who became Annal's editor in
2001. You just have to trust the authors.

Yet, in the story of Jan-Hendrik Schon, scientists were writing to journal editors telling the editors that Schon's work was wrong, and the journal editors ignored them. And, the review process of Schon's work was anything but rigorous.

Schon's work probably stood out more than Poehlman's, which was more an extension of what people believed anyway. In the revisionism of the New Scientist, Schon's work is redeemed because it represents what people want to believe. In the real world, stuff is right because it is right, not because it conforms to what we believe or want to believe.

Another story in Science also related to ethics. At page 1848, researchers published about a rare disease but did not
inform public health authorities of the problem out of "fear that
others would run with the data and publish about the matter first."


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