A Spoonful of Major Medical Journal Makes the Fraud Go Down
We’re No. 1! U.S.A! U.S.A.!
Well, OK, well I’ll admit that maybe this time the chant is a bit inappropriate, because in a moment I’m going to tell you about a case in which, frankly, being No. 1 is NOT something to be proud of.
But first, I have a question for you.
If a study gets published in a major medical journal, do you assume that the rigorous standards of that journal mean that it’s always safe to trust the study’s conclusions?
Most people do. But most people, it turns out, are wrong.
Which brings me to that case in which the United States took the top spot on a list that I dare say we’d rather not be on at all.
A new analysis has found that U.S. scientists are significantly more likely to publish fake research than are scientists from elsewhere. The study, published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics, (yes, I am well aware of the irony in this sentence…moving on…) also found that those who commit fraud are more likely to be repeat offenders.
Of the 788 published papers that were officially withdrawn between the years 2000 and 2010, 243 were attributed to some kind of data fabrication or falsification. (The remaining 545 were retracted because of “serious errors,” which reads to me like another term for phony.)
Yes, we’re NUMBER ONE…in faking it.
The United States had the largest overall percentage of officially withdrawn papers…260 of the 788…and one out of three, about 33%, of them were officially attributed to fraud.
Even worse, the fake research was more likely to have been published in a leading journal with high big-name impact. In addition, more than half of the phony studies…a whopping 53%…were penned by an author who had been caught for faking it at least once before.
Does this mean we should simply dismiss all published studies out of hand? No, of course not. That would be tossing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. A lot of valuable research gets published every day. But it does mean we shouldn’t accept everything that’s published in a journal at face value. We need to remember to follow the motivations and money, and be sure to ask the difficult questions.
I don’t know about you, but the next time someone questions hundreds of years of proven traditional use, backed by thousands of anecdotal success stories, as back-up for a natural remedy …and supports instead some patentable concoction…I’m definitely going to be bringing up the results of this study up.
Guess those legendary stringent standards that the major medical journals are so proud of are not so very stringent after all, huh?
In the words of Marry Poppins, those kinds of shaky standards are piecrust promises…easily made, easily broken.
About the author
An enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 17-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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