"Many of these fraudulent studies are simply invented. There were no patients. The trial never happened.”
A British online newspaper has finally joined the rest of the free world and published a report that goes some way to vindicating all of us who knew there was something wrong with modern science and its impact on all our lives.
The Mail states that a group of highly respected experts fear the medical world is rife with research fraud, and that ONE in FIVE of the two million studies published annually could involve fake data.
This is good news that mainstream media outlets are now beginning to at least accept the idea that the public has been conned, something that, up until now, nobody from any newspaper has dared go anywhere near.
In July Toby Young's blog DailySceptic published an article entitled, “Photoshopping, fraud and circular logic in research“ which raised the issue of fake science and how it is rife in certain countries with medical journals failing to do even the most basic of checks to see if a study is real, taking everything on trust. In China paper forging operations colloquially nicknamed “paper mills”, are not only encouraged they are incentivised by the Government. the article reveals that forging scientific research in China is commonplace , and cited former BMJ editor Richard Smith’s essay on the problem of fictional clinical trials.
Finally, the Mail has raised its head above the parapet, so they must be entirely sure of their facts. They report:
Speaking on the Mail on Sunday’s Medical Minefield podcast, Smith – who was involved in the investigations that exposed Malcolm Pearce – said: “It’s shocking, but common. Many of these fraudulent studies are simply invented. There were no patients. The trial never happened.” Research coming out of countries where doctors are commonly rewarded with pay rises for publishing their work – such as Egypt, Iran, India and China – is more likely to be faked, investigations show. “In China, doctors can only get promoted if they score enough ‘points’, by getting published,” says John Carlisle, an NHS anaesthetist who spends his spare time hunting for fraudulent medical studies.
Calman cites many examples of serious research fraud:
Malcolm Pearce, who created a non-existent pregnant women he claimed to have saved from an ectopic pregnancy and who forged a drug trial.
Werner Bezwoda, who falsely claimed he had cured women with breast cancer by giving them bone marrow transplants.
Eric Poehlman, the only one ever jailed for research fraud, who fabricated studies into weight gain and the menopause.
Woo Suk Hwang, who became a national hero in South Korea after claiming a breakthrough in stem cell research that never actually happened.
Joachim Boldt, who forged a staggering 90 studies into drugs for regulating blood pressure during surgery. “These trials had been published over many years in leading journals, but it turned out they had never happened,” says Ian Roberts, Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Again, when they were excluded from the review, it showed the treatment was not effective. British surgical guidelines had to be changed. It made me realise, if someone can get away with fabricating 90 studies, the system isn’t working.”
The article prizes open the door to what we know to be the biggest science scandal of all time: Covid-19 / vaccines. Medical research is entirely based on trust. If someone emails a Word document containing a table of results to a journal, then it’s just assumed that the trial did in fact take place as suggested. The document itself is supposed to be reviewed, although as we’ve previously seen peer review is sometimes claimed to have happened when it very obviously couldn’t have. The reality is nobody checks anything too deeply. Peer reviews, when they properly happen, take the intellectual honesty of the submitter for granted.
Whilst a century ago, when modern scientific research processes began there was very little incentive for a scientist to lie to a journal. There was no money in it. Academic positions were rare, the communities were small, and there were few enough interesting claims being published that they’d attract attention and be discovered if they weren’t true.
But in 2021 it’s all very different. The vast majority of studies are funded by Pharmaceuticals giants with the 'right' results potentially earning millions for the scientist whose name is on the paper. For a university professor, the temptation to fake data must be enormous given that Pharmaceuticals companies have almost unlimited resources and an insatiable appetite for new ways to make money.