Friday, November 24, 2017

Controversial Sugar Industry Research Raises Questions About Fraud and Censorship in Science


Fraud in science is too common:
Barbash, Fred (27 March 2015) Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal. The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/27/fabricated-peer-reviews-prompt-scientific-journal-to-retract-43-papers-systematic-scheme-may-affect-other-journals/?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

[excerpted] A major publisher of scholarly medical and science articles has retracted 43 papers because of “fabricated” peer reviews amid signs of a broader fake peer review racket affecting many more publications.

The publisher is BioMed Central, based in the United Kingdom, which puts out 277 peer-reviewed journals.…

Meanwhile, the Committee on Publication Ethics, a multidisciplinary group that includes more than 9,000 journal editors, issued a statement suggesting a much broader potential problem. The committee, it said, “has become aware of systematic, inappropriate attempts to manipulate the peer review processes of several journals across different publishers.” Those journals are now reviewing manuscripts to determine how many may need to be retracted, it said…

For a review of the problems related to academic integrity see the following excellent article: 
Siddhartha Roy and Marc Edwards (2017). Science is broken. Aeon. https://aeon.co/essays/science-is-a-public-good-in-peril-heres-how-to-fix-it Accessed November 24, 2017.
I must say that in my 3 decades in the academy I have not personally witnessed deliberate fraud, although I've seen how funding priorities and disciplinary blinders shape the type of research that is conducted and published.

Although relatively invisible, outright fraud may have shaped foundational studies and research trajectories, as illustrated in a new study addressing how the sugar industry stifled research on such important issues as sugar's human health effects.

The sugar industry allegedly censored early research findings indicating high sugar may adversely impact cholesterol levels:
Jacqueline Howard (2017, ). Controversial sugar industry study on cancer uncovered. CNN, https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/healthtrending/controversial-sugar-industry-study-on-cancer-uncovered/ar-BBFsdnd?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=SK216DHP
An old study is now shedding new light on the sugar industry's controversial past, and its secrets are being revealed in a new paper. The 1960s study, which suggests a link between a high-sugar diet and high blood cholesterol levels and cancer in rats, was sponsored by the sugar industry, according to the perspective paper published in the journal PLOS Biology on Tuesday. Yet the study itself was never published and has been forgotten until now. "All we know is that the plug got pulled and nothing got published," said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a co-author of the new paper.

"Whether the investigator didn't bother to try or whether he tried and failed, we don't know. Or whether there was some kind of clause in his agreement with the sugar people that precluded him from publishing, we don't know," he said.

This enigmatic study seems to provide evidence of the harmful health impacts of eating too much sugar. It also suggests that a group then called the Sugar Research Foundation might have manipulated scientific research in its favor, according to the new paper.


The sugar industry is hardly alone, as the articles I linked at the top of the this post demonstrate.

A former EPA scientist, Vallianatos, wrote a book titled Poison Spring that alleges gross misconduct - including swapping out dead experimental test animals (rats) by the biggest labs that tested chemical safety after the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA)  was passed in the 1970s. You can read a book review here: https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2014/0416/Poison-Spring

A graduate student and I were investigating research on the effects of chemicals and found testimony from hearings associated with the TSCA that emphasized that genetic effects from toxic chemicals should not be regulated. Endocrine effects also were unregulated.

My hunch is that industry-funded science is the most prone to outright fraud and the bigger and the more powerful the donor, the greater the fraud.




Thursday, November 23, 2017

Giving Thanks


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thank you for being readers of my blog and for sharing your thoughts in the comments and emails!!!!

I am thankful for my family, friends, readers, students, and to the desert itself for giving me the strength to travel this strange trail. Thank you!!!!