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Friday, August 21, 2015

Scientistry is not scientody

Nature reports how more rigorous documentation requirements are demonstrating the intrinsic unreliability of scientistry (the profession of science) and showing how the substitution of scientistry for scientody (the actual scientific process) makes what subsequently passes for science unreliable.
The launch of the clinicaltrials.gov registry in 2000 seems to have had a striking impact on reported trial results, according to a PLoS ONE study1 that many researchers have been talking about online in the past week.

A 1997 US law mandated the registry’s creation, requiring researchers from 2000 to record their trial methods and outcome measures before collecting data. The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. Study author Veronica Irvin, a health scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, says this suggests that registering clinical studies is leading to more rigorous research. Writing on his NeuroLogica Blog, neurologist Steven Novella of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, called the study “encouraging” but also “a bit frightening” because it casts doubt on previous positive results.

Irvin and her co-author Robert Kaplan, chief science officer at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Maryland, focused on human randomized controlled trials that were funded by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The authors conclude that registration of trials seemed to be the dominant driver of the drastic change in study results. They found no evidence that the trend could be explained by shifting levels of industry sponsorship or by changes in trial methodologies.
Translation: there is good reason to be dubious about more than 7 in every 8 historical corporate sponsored medical trials. Keep this in mind when you are basing an argument in support of the safety and efficacy of vaccines on research published by the pharmaceutical industry.

This higher standard of documentation is very welcome, but it underlines the way in which that the human factor is the weak link in the scientific process. No amount of "training" can substitute for forcing scientists to be completely transparent about their work.

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52 Comments:

Anonymous Jem August 21, 2015 6:50 AM  

Fascinating to watch the slow motion road crash that's going on with a lot of this. Two great critiques of scientism, btw, if you haven't discovered them are Ian Hutchinson's Monopolizing Knowledge and chapter 7 of Andy Bannister's The Atheist Who Didn't Exist (you get a couple of nice hat-tips in that one, p29 and p106 for instance).

Anonymous PhillipGeorge©2015 August 21, 2015 7:13 AM  

Witch doctors have always had the placebo effect. Now which doctors do you think I'm talking about?

Vox, science worked better when it was commonly called 'natural philosophy' and when men had souls and spirits. When beauty was a gift from God.
All the coronary artery by-passes, stents, angioplasties in the world can't really heal a broken heart.

Another thing to get is that much of what goes down for medicine is simply measuring and monitoring and quantifying. That isn't the same as understanding at all. Correlation isn't causation. Affects aren't cures.

Scurvy is something to learn from. Is the human default condition illness in the absence of right living? cheers

Anonymous old man in a villa August 21, 2015 7:45 AM  

When everything is for sale, anything can be bought.

I knew a man who was the CEO of one of the Nation's top polling firms. Over drinks one evening he confided to me that the results they delivered were always...ALWAYS based upon who was paying for the poll. Their team would then carefully construct the question as to eliminate as many negs as possible, design the follow up questions to channel the respondent towards the desired answer based on their initial replies, or disqualify the respondents who signaled a predisposition to answer in a way not desired.

"Even then..." he told me, "You can't get a solid result so we bump it with a plus/minus margin of error."

Everything is rigged in a kleptocracy. The only way to win is not to play the game.

Blogger Rantor August 21, 2015 7:49 AM  

Sounds like posting outcome measures in advance, makes it harder for the researchers to move the goalposts.

Anonymous Trimegistus August 21, 2015 7:59 AM  

Don't worry. There's one area of science which is totally incorruptible. The billions of dollars in funding from NGOs and government agencies which exist to fight climate change have NEVER affected the results of climate research.

Anonymous DJF August 21, 2015 8:00 AM  

Old man in a villa “”””Always based upon who was paying for the poll”””

They payers also get to determine which answers are released and which are buried

Back when Bush W was pushing for ‘Comprehensive Immigrating Reform’ (whatever that means) the NYT had a big poll where a majority was in favor. However they buried the answer where an even larger majority was in favor of deporting illegals.

Blogger VFM bot #188 August 21, 2015 8:10 AM  

Don't forget scientorogy. (That's when legitimate science---scientody---is mixed with good Japanese engineering...yuk yuk!)

Anonymous DJF August 21, 2015 8:13 AM  

Trimegistus

Its not just money, don’t forget the vacations, oops I mean conferences you get to attend

Here is a link to one in 2016 in Vietnam. Notice the home page shows a very nice picture of a beach where the attendees can spend time contemplating about Climate Change

http://on-climate.com/

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus August 21, 2015 8:24 AM  

If you can't trust politicians and the scientists they buy, who can ya trust?

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 8:37 AM  

I used to be a pharma rep, and the level of blind trust among colleagues might have been charming had they all been 4 year old girls. Marketing departments' objective is to make the sales people fervent evangelists, as secure in their faith as any Jehovah's Witness who rings your doorbell.

Anyone have a guess how many "diseases" have been invented because a drug company trial yielded some odd/unexpected result and instead of calling it an adverse event (which it is, by FDA definition) the smart kids in Marketing built an entire "disease state awareness campaign" (yes, that's what they're called) to educate physicians on the pressing need to diagnose the previously unrecognized malady in time for the FDA to approve the drug's indication?

[The poster-child for this is Viagra; who among us realized that "erectile dysfunction is simply Newspeak for impotence.]

The Belief Narrative that underpins the entire scientific-management-by-government-experts regulatory Leviathan is like an old woman's bones as the calcium leaches out. One day she's walking normally and a moment later the head of her femur breaks off. (Oh, did I mention that she's on an anti-osteoporosis drug?)

What are people going to do when an effective HIV vaccine is produced yet the number of people dying of AIDS-syndrome diseases doesn't budge? Will they do what the FDA already did and simply remove those diseases from the AIDS spectrum when it removed Kaposi's Sarcoma because too few people dying of it lit up on an HIV test?

Blogger James Dixon August 21, 2015 8:44 AM  

> No amount of "training" can substitute for forcing scientists to be completely transparent about their work.

And true scientists have always known this, which is why the scientific method placed such importance on publication and replication. It's a shame it seems to have largely been abandoned.

Anonymous A Visitor August 21, 2015 8:51 AM  

"I knew a man who was the CEO of one of the Nation's top polling firms. Over drinks one evening he confided to me that the results they delivered were always...ALWAYS based upon who was paying for the poll."

This sounds somewhat like my capstone my final year of graduate school. We were preparing our report for a well known think tank and a well known government agency. Our advisor, who was a professor of mine, told us outright at the beginning that we couldn't, for lack of a better term, be too damning in our conclusions because he needed another capstone for the next class after us. While that's understandable and I don't think our conclusions were inaccurate, it makes me wonder what were to happen if we were researching a different topic which had more graver implications than just budget cuts (although the cuts to this agency did affect our national security, I'll grant you that).

Having done polling too a senior research project in undergrad and taken two polling classes in undergrad, I can assure you there are many ways to make the answers look like what you want them too. The saying goes polls can often tell you more about polls than what people actually think.

Despite my family's medical background, I'm not naive enough to believe that there aren't any greedy unscrupulous folk in the pharmaceutical industry. Test results aside, just look at all the direct to consumer drug advertising nowadays. You almost never saw that when I was a child, late' 80's-2000.

By the same token, the government can lie. Look at the commonly repeated myth that second hand smoke kills. The p value had to be knocked up to .1 and so many cases had to be dropped in order to show that people can inhale a "lethal" amount.

"Don't worry. There's one area of science which is totally incorruptible. The billions of dollars in funding from NGOs and government agencies which exist to fight climate change have NEVER affected the results of climate research."

LOL!

@10 dc.sunsets Arrggh you beat me to it with mentioning Viagra (no homo)! I was going to say that it was originally was used for the heart and getting a boner was a side effect. One of my teachers in high school whose husband died while I was in school was kept alive for his final days via Viagra.

Blogger Azimus August 21, 2015 8:57 AM  

Do the AGW clowns have to register with this place?

Anonymous That Would Be Telling August 21, 2015 8:57 AM  

The flip side of this argument is that some of this effect is from us running out of low hanging fruit, there are honest researchers like the famous "Things I won't work with" Derek Lowe who make a good case for that being at least part of the problem.

But not allowing drug companies to sift through data after a trial and fit it to a hypothesis is surely part of the story. (They can still do that, but they'll have to construct and run a real trial afterwords to properly prove it.)

Anonymous Dan August 21, 2015 9:26 AM  

This gets at the central problem with climate science. Its not simply a matter of scientist versus denying rubes. The scientists fail to "record their trial methods and outcome measures before collecting data," which is the medical standard. When Einstein proposed his relativity theory, very specific astronomical predictions could be made and then checked.

These climatology 'scientists' constantly change the goalposts, midway through. That was exactly the problem with the medical trials. When forced to establish the goalposts beforehand and stick to them, actual science results.

Is there any chance that climate scientists would allow a registration system? That is what should be demanded of climate scientists above all else. Since they are as pure as the freshly driven snow they will instantly assent, surely.

Anonymous Eric Ashley August 21, 2015 9:35 AM  

Great. Just fantastic. One suspects that the reason so many 'scientists' are so amenable to various stupidities is that they are lying to keep their status, and so they are nervous about calling anyone else out, or shaking the consensus in any way.

This heightens support for my Most Elites are Poseurs Theory for which I will no doubt receive a Nobel Prize award in Sociology and Physics.

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 9:55 AM  

I've never felt so good about my master's thesis.

Bottom line: I successfully defended an outcome that did not support the experimental hypothesis. In other words, the experiment proved NOTHING but instead of accepting direction to either dummy up the results or go back and dig until I proved SOMETHING, I (now see that I) defended scientody from the dark and pervasive forces of scientistry (sticking with the terminology of the blog.)

Boy, do I feel smug. (chuckling as I type that.)

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 10:04 AM  

One suspects that the reason so many 'scientists' are so amenable to various stupidities is that they are lying to keep their status, and so they are nervous about calling anyone else out, or shaking the consensus in any way.

I give you medical dogma.
I give you economics dogma.
I give you political dogma.
Heck, I raise you all other forms of dogma.

Extremely few people self-correct even when the consequences are small. When the consequences are professional catastrophe, no one self-corrects.

Poster child: I worked for an investigator who was the past president of the American Physiological Society. His work proved beyond doubt that the Textbook of Medical Physiology from which all physicians (and others) are taught was factually wrong on a particular subject. My boss and the author couldn't stand to be in the same room together; the textbook was never changed, as far as I know.

Now imagine if new, unimpeachable data conflict with dominant professional "received wisdom," and those new data come from some upstart. Will the Dominant Professionals who occupy Peer Review committees approve funding, or approve publications of the upstart, when doing so will destroy the foundation of the Dominant Professionals' status and careers, and send them back to washing bottles for the upstart?

Bwa-hah-hah-hah.

After a century of vast investment in scientific discovery, it turns out humanity left frying pan of ignorance only to land in the fire of pervasively false dogma.

Anonymous Dan August 21, 2015 10:26 AM  

"Now imagine if new, unimpeachable data conflict with dominant professional "received wisdom," and those new data come from some upstart. Will the Dominant Professionals who occupy Peer Review committees approve funding, or approve publications of the upstart, when doing so will destroy the foundation of the Dominant Professionals' status and careers, and send them back to washing bottles for the upstart?"

That is the beauty of the registration system. It doesn't rely on an upstart postdoc or outsider critic to win a political battle. The real critic is a scientist's own, earlier self.

Blogger Daniel August 21, 2015 10:31 AM  

AGW does not have to register.

Climate Science is a social, not medical, science. They do no clinical trials.

Anonymous That Would Be Telling August 21, 2015 11:17 AM  

When the AGW people blatantly massage their data until it fits their hypothesis and don't get called on it (by anyone other than "deniers" like us), this kind of registration is irrelevant.

Aside from recruiting populations that might have a better response to a drug than the normal ones, data collection seems to be OK in drug trials, "double blind" and all that, something we don't for example see in notoriously bogus psychology and social "sciences" where the people running the experiments also score the responses.

There was a big scandal recently in that area with a Harvard "scientist". There was some outright falsification recently in the social sciences, the research didn't actually do the data collection, but honest researchers immediately pounced on it and got it retracted within 5 months, the results in favor of gay marriage were just too good to be true. Sometimes the system does work

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 11:20 AM  

That is the beauty of the registration system. It doesn't rely on an upstart postdoc or outsider critic to win a political battle.

Perhaps I'm missing something; to get to the "registration," the investigator has to have received funding (corporate, academic or other government) and in all likelihood must be following a path of inquiry that is already supported by cited publications, both of which will be subjected to peer review. [I'll grant that if there's a buck to be made, an upstart might get corporate funding.]

OTOH, I suppose the B&M Gates Foundation could begin funding a return of Peter Duesberg to AIDS research while they're funding research into flying pigs.

Anonymous Dan August 21, 2015 11:27 AM  

"AGW does not have to register.

Climate Science is a social, not medical, science. They do no clinical trials."

But the scientific method is the same. You have a theory, make a prediction based on your theory, collect some data, and then find out if the data matched your predictions (supporting your theory) or not.

Climate scientists claim anything they want (west coast droughts, boston snow) as proof of AGW, but most such 'proofs' were never predicted by them ahead of time.

The registry could simply consist of tangible predictions that their models are currently making about the future.

Climate science is littered with thousands of predictions, some dire, some comical, that have not panned out. But such predictions are conveniently memory-holed. We are told that everything is happening exactly as foreseen, which couldn't be further from the truth.

The thing about the medical registry is that it requires specific outcome measures to be established beforehand, preventing one from mining through results for supporting data.

Anonymous Jack Amok August 21, 2015 11:29 AM  

When everything is for sale, anything can be bought.

It's even more insidious than straight up selling conclusions the buyer wants. Big Science is also incentivized to fabricate results as a form of marketing.

Let's say you're a climatologist. The government gives you a couple hundred thousand to study climate change. Your study concludes the Earth's climate changes frequently, has always done so, and will always do so, all on it's own. Sun spot cycles, orbital dynamics, deep ocean currents, been going on forever and pretty much swamp whatever impact puny humans have on a global scale. Well, thank you for your study, I guess there's nothing else for us to do here, we'll give the next grant to somebody studying Corn Blight...

Alternately, your study concludes humanity is having a huge and very likely dangerous
impact on global climate, and We Need To Act Now! Of course, one of the most urgent actions we need to take is to study this horrible danger in more detail, and, well, who better to study it than the scientist who fabricated, er, I mean, recognized, the danger? Might as well send in your next grant application with the study conclusions...

Government sponsored science is no better, and is actually far worse, than corporate sponsored science. Regardless of how sketchy corporate science is, you still get to decide if you want to buy the products or not.

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 11:31 AM  

The registration system may prevent piling on for current dogma, but it still doesn't enable challenges to it, which is my point.

The other problem with the registration system is that lots of medical & drug research is already derivative. What good does it do to insure that a drug trial for a cholesterol-lowering agent is "good science" when it doesn't even address the question of whether lowering cholesterol is beneficial?

Probably half the drugs on the market for "disease management" have never demonstrated lower overall mortality rates. It's especially entertaining to see how many disease management therapies yield other diseases in need of management as a known adverse event.

One could imagine a closed loop, where the same corporation produces foods that lead to diabetes, drugs for the management of diabetes that lead to hypertension, drugs for hypertension that lead to heart disease, drugs to manage heart disease that lead to Alzheimer's, drugs that manage Alzheimer's that speed the need for transfer to a nursing home, and the same corporation owns the nursing home, the funeral home behind it and the burial park behind that.

Oh, and the firm bills Obamacare at every step of the way because the firm's own lawyers wrote the relevant parts of the omnibus bill while they worked fist in glove with staff members of the US House of Representatives whose re-elections the firm and its executives paid for.

Anonymous A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents August 21, 2015 11:56 AM  

This is way overdue, frankly, the capability has been there for years, and it ought to be a scandal that it took this long to create it.

dc.sunsets
Poster child: I worked for an investigator who was the past president of the American Physiological Society. His work proved beyond doubt that the Textbook of Medical Physiology from which all physicians (and others) are taught was factually wrong on a particular subject. My boss and the author couldn't stand to be in the same room together; the textbook was never changed, as far as I know.

As I wrote before in a different comment thread, it's not the things that doctors don't know that scares me, it's the things that doctors "know" that are wrong. Add to that ignorance an incurious attitude of "I learned all I need to know in residency" and docs become more than scary.

What do you call the man or woman who graduated dead last from medical school?

"Doctor".

Blogger Brad Andrews August 21, 2015 12:10 PM  

Don't some of the same ones who support vaccines wholeheartedly also question corporate-sponsored scientists when they disagree with things like AGW?

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 12:30 PM  

@26 paradigm,

I worked at a medical school and TA'd for premeds. My conclusion is that admission to medical school selects mostly for those whose intelligence is modestly above average, who are ambitious and self-confident, but above all else those who have good short-term recall memory. Grades and MCAT scores are nearly everything (all other issues like race and sex equal) and these are signals of regurgitation memory, which is at best tangential to intelligence. Even the GRE does a better job testing analytical skills.

This is not a group overweighted to original thought, honest curiosity or intellectual independence. Once a person is admitted to medical college, the public-private part of funding yields a perverse condition: it is VERY BAD financially for the school if anyone flunks out. Therefore, once you're in, you can be pretty much an idiot and you'll still get your degree. What this means regarding affirmative action I leave to your imagination.

Medical residency is more like training muscle memory than it is like an episode of the TV series "House." In my experience, 80% of those primary care docs with whom I interacted were exactly the same 10 year later. Everything they felt they needed to know they memorized in residency. The wall that protected their medical dogma was impervious to nuclear weapons, and the only thing they responded to (wisely) was a sudden change in the likelihood that doing it the "old way" was a medical malpractice civil suit magnet.

No one ever admitted it, but what sold drugs better than any other attribute was, "does this make the doctor's job easier, or can they bill a reliable payer like crazy for it?" Clinical considerations were naught but rationalization, you had to acknowledge at least one, but they sold nothing.

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 12:36 PM  

I recall fondly (sarc) the med students slumming one summer in the lab where I worked. Long story short, I had to train them to introduce a small catheter into a dog's carotid artery, a procedure that if it took too long resulted in the tiny tube's distal end being blocked (probably by a micro-clot) so that the catheter remained filled with air.

Normally blood would backflow and, once it filled the tube you attached a syringe filled with heparized saline and flushed the catheter. I watched one of these rocket-scientists in training reach for the syringe.

"What are you going to do with that," I asked.
"I'm just going to blow the cot off the end," he answered.

Anyone who knows the identity property of multiplication knows what he was about to do to a live, conscious dog in whom I had perhaps 8 hours of surgery invested.

That was 30+ years ago. I'm sure he's a surgeon.

Blogger Quadko August 21, 2015 12:40 PM  

As in the Wizard of Oz, people with no more brains than Scarecrow "think big thoughts" and "make big pronouncements" just because they have a degree.

And boy can we sure tell.

Anonymous DJF August 21, 2015 12:40 PM  

Dc.sunsets writes“””””No one ever admitted it, but what sold drugs better than any other attribute was, "does this make the doctor's job easier, or can they bill a reliable payer like crazy for it?"“”””

I am betting that under the ‘does it make the doctors job easier” comes the category that handing FDA approved drugs protects the doctor from malpractice since he is following the rules even if the drug hurts the patient.

So the road to wealth is to come up with a medical condition, get a drug approved for that condition, and ride that for as long as you can.

Anonymous A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents August 21, 2015 12:47 PM  

dc.sunsets
I'm sure he's a surgeon

The smart bureaucrat in my family has a saying, "Personnel is policy". Individuals matter. Just the other day I was conversing with a non-doctor medical type, about various surgeries. She's familiar with stuff in the pelvis, so we wound up talking about radical prostatectomy.

Long story short, there's multiple ways to remove a prostate, including via remote control "robot" tools. The actual approach doesn't affect the outcome. What makes a difference? The number of times the urologist has done the procedure. Perfect practice makes perfect, although a fumblefingers is more likely to screw up.

Arrogant noobs? Disaster in the making.

I'm sure the same is true of joint replacement, anything around the heart, brain surgery, you name it. The number of times a cutter has done the job is the leading factor in successful outcome.

Makes me want to design a much more better artificial body, to train cutters on, this does.

Blogger JCclimber August 21, 2015 12:47 PM  

I'm skeptical of the 1 in 8 as well. I know all too well what tricks can be played with data, to ensure that you can push things toward the results you want.

Excluding patients that died for "unknown reasons", "unrelated reasons", or who "didn't show up for the final appointment (because they were dead or dying".
Adding a picked field of healthier patients to supplement the data, as part of a "compassionate" measure by the company for patients who didn't make the original enrollment deadline but "still needed treatment".
Carefully selecting patients that you are able to tell will be more likely to have a negative reaction. For example, if 25% of the population are smokers, and you are studying something unrelated to smoking, you should have about 25% smokers in your patient list.

I could go on for awhile.

Anonymous A Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents August 21, 2015 12:49 PM  


So the road to wealth is to come up with a medical condition, get a drug approved for that condition, and ride that for as long as you can.


You left out a step, "Get it heavily advertised on FNC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, RTV and other cable channels". Docs tell me how much they despise having a patient come in with a drug name on a scrap of paper, saying "I want this!". Side effects? What? Get the drug!

Blogger Brad Andrews August 21, 2015 1:23 PM  

Don't some of the same ones who support vaccines wholeheartedly also question corporate-sponsored scientists when they disagree with things like AGW?

Blogger dc.sunsets August 21, 2015 1:40 PM  

No, the road to wealth in pharma is the same as in tech.

Start a company, come up with something a behemoth in the industry might like to acquire, sell and retire to a beach with a nearby bar. The bigger the behemoth, the more likely that they will pay you more dough than you ever thought existed.

In addition, said behemoth may have accounting irregularities they can bury in an acquisition, which is just gravy for your cause (to retire rich while young.)

Blogger MendoScot August 21, 2015 1:55 PM  

One could imagine a closed loop...

Welcome to Socialism, tovarish.

Blogger MendoScot August 21, 2015 2:19 PM  

I’ll give a counter-example (anecdote alert!).

I was involved in the design of a double-blinded clinical trial that didn’t produce the expected outcome. The problem was that, in order to maintain the the double-blind, we had to speculate on what the sham treatment should be. Turns out we were wrong. The sham was less effective than the treatment, but still effective. The result was that the trial was interpreted as showing no effect, even though it is now not only well-established, but one of the hottest areas of research in the field.

Ironically, the blinded carers could distinguish between who was receiving the active and sham treatments. Still, 20 years later we still get that one, small, incorrectly designed study thrown in our faces.

While large-scale studies should be held to higher standards, small scale studies are investigative by their nature and flexibility in their interpretation is fundamental to their utility.

Anonymous BigGaySteve August 21, 2015 2:32 PM  

I used to be a pharma rep, and the level of blind trust among colleagues might have been charming had they all been 4 year old girls.

I always wondered if drug reps actually believed everything they said, I had found myself laughing in a few presentations.

once you're in, you can be pretty much an idiot and you'll still get your degree. What this means regarding affirmative action

No need I knew a black doctor that malpracticed himself to death with a med error before I knew Harvard med gave remedial biology clases to blacks.

dc.sunsets No, the road to wealth in pharma is the same as in tech.

How much do those gray market pharma people make? The ones that buy up all the limited production pediatric cancer meds off the market only to sell them to hospitals for a profit.

Anonymous jdgalt August 21, 2015 3:17 PM  

This is certainly a welcome change, but I don't buy your "translation" sentence.

I would expect that before registration, studies were conducted as fairly as they are now -- except that the rest of us didn't have to be told about them in advance, so if a study produced results that its sponsor didn't like, it could just silently disappear. The 8% vs. 57% numbers suggest that 6/7 of all pre-2000 studies never saw the light of day. But that doesn't give us any reason to distrust the ones that did come out.

Blogger Marissa August 21, 2015 3:31 PM  

With all of this corruption, how does one even decide what vaccines one gives one's children? It is a baffling world to navigate, especially for the first-time parent. A lot of vaccine denier websites look really kooky and low-budget while the pro-vaccine types have a very smug-atheist, science-knows-all (and so do our donors!) look to them. Even the doctors in my area who take patients of parents who oppose (some or all) vaccinations say that they support all of the vaccines.

I know I got vaccines when I was little, but it was fewer than today and I wouldn't even know if they are the same ingredients-wise. Speaking of ingredients, I've heard from both sides that aborted fetal tissue was or was not used to develop certain vaccines.

Anonymous Fnord P August 21, 2015 4:17 PM  

@40. jdgalt But that doesn't give us any reason to distrust the ones that did come out.

What if the other six suppressed studies were on the same drug in the same population following the same protocol which didn't show the results the company wanted? Do you still trust the published results then? That's more or less what was happening before CT.gov.

Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre goes into some of the pharma's worst shenanigans.

Having been in the industry I can tell you it is just that, an industry. It likes to traffic on the thin veneer of all doctors being selfless humanitarians who only care about saving life. hmmm

Blogger Joshua Sinistar August 21, 2015 6:27 PM  

I don't care what y'all say. Snake Oil is the best medicine money can buy. Filled with vitamins and alcohol, it'll make you feel better even if you die.
Snake Oil. Like Socialised Medicine only cheaper.

Blogger Carl Philipp August 21, 2015 7:14 PM  

@39 BigGaySteve "I always wondered if drug reps actually believed everything they said, I had found myself laughing in a few presentations."

I feel the same way about drug commercials sometime.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZPZG92iYE4

Blogger Floyd Looney August 21, 2015 8:10 PM  

Sign Toddies...

Blogger SciVo August 21, 2015 8:18 PM  

That Would Be Telling @21: "There was some outright falsification recently in the social sciences, the research didn't actually do the data collection, but honest researchers immediately pounced on it and got it retracted within 5 months, the results in favor of gay marriage were just too good to be true."

IIRC it was caught by a graduate student who was planning to take their results as given and explore a follow-on question, so he just wanted to understand their techniques and use them as a model... wait.

That's like "agree and amplify." I see now that he may have been black knighting.

Blogger Cee August 21, 2015 8:42 PM  

Interestingly (amusingly, depressingly, whatever adverb you like), I read an article recently on vaccination schedules in cats that was far more sensible and humane than "GIVE YOUR INFANT CHILD EVERYTHING ON THE SCHEDULE". Vaccine injury (in the form of malignant injection-site tumors) is widely acknowledged, and owners are advised not to vaccinate their cats against diseases they have no real risk of being exposed to (or that aren't life-threatening).

But somehow we got vaccine science perfect in humans, or perfect enough that the risks never outweigh the benefits, even when you're vaccinating sexually inactive twelve-year-olds against an STD.

Blogger Doc Rampage August 21, 2015 11:36 PM  

@40: Partly agreed. It is common in statistical studies to accept statistical correlation results with a 5% chance of error. What that means in practice is that if there is no correlation at all, then all you have to do is finance 20 different studies and one or two of them are likely to show a correlation even though there isn't one. Dump the studies that show no correlation, publish the studies that do show a correlation, and collect the rewards.

I strongly suspect that the studies showing that red wine or chocolate are good for you are of this type.

But as @42 comments, this means that you *can't* trust the studies even if they were honestly done individually because the fraud was in the collection of studies, not in any individual study.

Anonymous Jim Milo August 22, 2015 12:28 AM  

I was going to talk about my experiences in how researchers and others misrepresent their studies to ignorant/agendaed journalists, but 'see Gamergate‘ is easier to type.

Polling? Ibid.

Anonymous Jim Milo August 22, 2015 12:31 AM  

@39 "I always wondered if drug reps actually believed everything they said..."

Only in pot dispensaries and liquor stores.

Blogger Groot August 22, 2015 3:23 AM  

@26. "What do you call the man or woman who graduated dead last from medical school? 'Doctor.'"

What does an unemployed basement-dweller call the most-important woman of his life? "Mom." And dispenses advice to doctors.

Anonymous BGS August 22, 2015 11:07 AM  

I remember when a clinical trial ended up banning Quinine (in the 90s)from being prescribed for anything except pregnant women with malaria, and all the doctors thought it had to be bogus. It had been used to treat 11 different things, and the study found problems never noticed before in a drug used for over 1000 years.

Then the recent cheezy thing with Colchicine, used in Chinese medicine for gout for millennia & cheap as dirt. The drug companies ran tests on it to prove it was safe/effective & get the sole right to supply it to the US. People went from paying $5 for multiple months supply to hundreds of dollars a month.

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