Remember the March for Science? It seems so quaint now. Regarding the trustworthiness of scientists, proponents of intelligent design have been urging thoughtful skepticism for decades. It is interesting to watch the rest of the world as it catches up with us.
Reporter Sharyl Attkisson notes when this unraveling began. It’s only gathered speed since then:
In my 2017 investigation into “Fake Science,” Dr. Marcia Angell, the first woman to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, explained why she says a large percentage of published studies are not to be believed.
“I came to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1979,” says Angell. “Starting about then was when you saw the drug companies assert more and more control until finally they over the next couple of decades, they began to treat the researchers as hired hands. They would design the research themselves. You know you can do a lot of mischief in how you design a trial. Or ‘we’ll test this drug and we’ll tell you whether it can be published or not,’ and so if it’s a positive study, it’s published; if it’s a negative study, it’ll never see the light of day.”
That sentiment is shared by Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the British journal Lancet. In 2015, he wrote a scathing editorial saying, “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue; science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
These scientists are joined by many others who say that industry and special interests have co-opted the research process, academic institutions, federal agencies and public health groups to such a degree that it can be impossible to get unconflicted, accurate scientific information. At the very least, it’s difficult to know what can be trusted and what should not.
It’s more important than ever to know — and more widely acknowledged now than, perhaps, ever — that there is no substitute for independent thinking about science. That’s whether you hold a science PhD or not.