How Much Scientific Research Is Actually Fraudulent?

It may be more than you think.


Fraud may be rampant in biomedical research. My 2016 article "Broken Science" pointed to a variety of factors as explanations for why the results of a huge proportion of scientific studies were apparently generating false-positive results that could not be replicated by other researchers. A false positive in scientific research occurs when there is statistically significant evidence for something that isn't real (e.g., a drug cures an illness when it actually does not). The factors considered included issues like publication bias, and statistical chicanery associated with p-hacking, HARKing, and underpowered studies. My article did not address the possibility that the lack of reproducibility could be because a significant proportion of preclinical and clinical biomedical studies were actually fraudulent.

My subsequent article, "Most Scientific Findings Are False or Useless," which reported the conclusions of Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society researcher Daniel Sarewitz's distressing essay, "Saving Science," also did not consider the possibility of extensive scientific dishonesty as an explanation for the massive proliferation of false positives. In his famous 2005 article, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False," Stanford University biostatistician John Ioannidis cited conflicts of interest as one factor driving the generation of false positives but also did not suggest that actual research fraud was a big problem.

How bad is the false-positive problem in scientific research? As I earlier reported, a 2015 editorial in The Lancet observed that "much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue." A 2015 British Academy of Medical Sciences report suggested that the false discovery rate in some areas of biomedicine could be as high as 69 percent. In an email exchange with me, Ioannidis estimated that the nonreplication rates in biomedical observational and preclinical studies could be as high as 90 percent.

The possibility that fraud may well be responsible for a significant proportion of the false positives reported in the scientific literature is suggested by a couple of new Dutch studies. Both studies are preprints that report the results of surveys of thousands of scientists in the Netherlands aiming to probe the prevalence of questionable research practices and scientific misconduct.

Summarizing their results, an article in Science notes, "More than half of Dutch scientists regularly engage in questionable research practices, such as hiding flaws in their research design or selectively citing literature. And one in 12 [8 percent] admitted to committing a more serious form of research misconduct within the past 3 years: the fabrication or falsification of research results." Daniele Fanelli, a research ethicist at the London School of Economics, tells Science that 51 percent of researchers admitting to questionable research practices "could still be an underestimate."

In June, a meta-analysis of prior studies on questionable research practices and misconduct published in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics reported that more than 15 percent of researchers had witnessed others who had committed at least one instance of research misconduct (falsification, fabrication, plagiarism), while nearly 40 percent were aware of others who had engaged in at least one questionable research practice.

In a blistering editorial earlier this week, former editor of the medical journal The BMJ Richard Smith asks if it's "time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise." Smith calls attention to a systematic review of randomized controlled trials recently submitted to the journal Anaesthesia by British anesthetist John Carlisle. He found that of the 153 studies for which individual patient data were available, 44 percent had untrustworthy data and 26 percent were what he called "zombie" trials whose results are animated by false data. Carlisle pointed out that many of the zombie trials came from researchers in Egypt, China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey.

In an editorial, Ioannidis observes that the zombie anesthesia trials added up to "100% (7/7) in Egypt; 75% (3/ 4) in Iran; 54% (7/13) in India; 46% (22/48) in China; 40% (2/5) in Turkey; 25% (5/20) in South Korea; and 18% (2/11) in Japan." Taking the number of clinical trials from these countries listed with the World Health Organization's registry and extrapolating from the false trial rates identified by Carlisle, Ioannidis estimates that there are "almost 90,000 registered false trials from these countries, including some 50,000 zombies." Consequently, he concludes that "hundreds of thousands of zombie randomised trials circulate among us." Since randomized controlled trials are the gold standard for clinical research, Ioannidis adds, "One dreads to think of other study designs, for example, observational research, that are even less likely to be regulated and more likely to be sloppy than randomised trials."

In his BMJ editorial, Smith cites the work of Barbara K. Redman, author of Research Misconduct Policy in Biomedicine: Beyond the Bad-Apple Approach. During a webinar on research fraud, Smith reported that she insisted "that it is not a problem of bad apples but bad barrels if not of rotten forests or orchards." Redman argues, according to Smith, "that research misconduct is a systems problem—the system provides incentives to publish fraudulent research and does not have adequate regulatory processes." The research publication system is built on trust and peer review is not designed to detect fraud. Journals, publishers, funders, and research institutions have little incentive to check for fraud and a big disincentive against damaging their reputations by retracting studies.

So what can be done to stem the tide of apparently fraudulent research? Ioannidis suggests that one useful step would be to require that all datasets must be made available for reanalysis by other researchers. That is how Carlisle was able to identify untrustworthy and zombie anesthesia studies. Some hard thinking needs to be done about how to change incentives from publishing studies to discovering the true things about the world. For the time being, Smith may be right that "it may be time to move from assuming that research has been honestly conducted and reported to assuming it to be untrustworthy until there is some evidence to the contrary."

Nevertheless, I still agree with Ioannidis, who once told me, "Science is, was, and will continue to be the best thing that has happened to human beings."

NEXT: Psychonautical Journalist Michael Pollan Is Finally Ready To End the War on Drugs

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  1. How dare you besmirch the The Science?

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    3. It’s really a shame you can’t change font color to make ‘the science’ all golden and shiny like some seem to view it. Sort of a nice pre-1978 Jonestown glow, if you will.

  2. Follow the science, over the cliff.

  3. >>”time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise.”

    already do.

  4. But we still believe climate ‘scientists’, right?

    1. Nope.

    2. What do you mean “still”? They have been wrong since the beginning.
      Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in the administration, urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public’s attention.
      There is widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, Moynihan wrote in a September 1969 memo.
      “This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit,” he wrote. “This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

      Wrong then, wrong now. Not just global climate warming change, but all of it, especially when used to justify government controls.

      1. Between the then MAD, oncoming Ice Age, and acid rain, I am amazed that there is a planet. Less that the Doomsday Cult has branched out.

    3. When they used the term “massage the data” they lost all credibility with me. Data is what it is.

  5. Its not just medicine, or even science.

    30 years ago after graduating with an engineering degree, but wanting to delay my entry into the adult business world, I signed up for graduate classes.

    I was lucky enough to get a small class taught by a visiting otofesdor from Israel, Dan Skipper. The class was Critical Analysis of Research. The class was dimpky to fknd published papers in any of the many technical journals in any field, wade thru them, and tear them apart and write a short paper or do a presentation each week on your findings.

    It was eye opening and lifechanging for me. Engineering grad school was mostly foreign students, most of which did not understand the assignment, and cultural obstacles to overcome. Sfter the first two weeks, I relished it.

    95%+ of what gets published anywhere on anything is worthless crap. Everyone in academia and research Has to publish, and there just isnt that much new ground to be broken, even in developing technical fields. Most is tautological restatenents of old ideas, with sloppy methodology. And this in STEM and the hard sciences.

    1. What is a “otofesdor “?

      1. I’m not sure, but I think i want to be one when I grow up.

      2. professor written with a very shaky keyboard.

        1. Let’s do the keyboard warp again?

      3. “One who has faith upon hearing” to engage in some terrible Latin and Spanish…

      4. Engineers and scientists never proofread their work. Because they are always right.

      5. Presumably related to “dimpky”.

        Anyway this article isn’t just that most studies are ultimately proven wrong, but worse, they are fraud as well.

    2. even in developing technical fields

      This debate was one of the most eye-opening to me. Imagine a Nobel-prize winning chemist saying you’re being foolishly optimistic and effectively rebutting him “Nuh-uh!” Now imagine, two decades later, the Nobel-prize winning chemist is dead, your field has largely evaporated or been subsumed, not even the parts to your nanoassemblers are to be found, and your greatest contribution to society is marrying a woman who works in social capital markets.

      Better men have fallen on their swords for less.

      1. Eh, I thought biology an adequate existence proof, and while nanotech has been enormously harder to develop than was anticipated, it hasn’t been for the reasons Smalley gave.

        1. “Smalley, and his wife and co-researcher Minnie, are the most aptly-named scientists in nanotech.”

          (I got a little rush of pleasure from that…endwarphins, if you will.)

          1. errr…”endworphins”. Dammit.

    3. Critical Research Theory? 😀

    4. Walk into the towering cramped “stacks” of any major university and marvel at the millions of peer-reviewed “scientific” publications on display. Then consider that almost none of them will ever undergo one of the cornerstones of science‐‐replication. And very few will ever even be read to any significant extent.

      It is a monument to onanism and impracticality. A towering testament to wasted resources.

      But scientific principles, relatively rarely applied correctly or completely, are mankind’s best means of advancing understanding of the world. And “science” as today applied, though underperforming a coin toss, is still superior to any other available method–most of which is little more than confirmation bias.

      The important lesson for us all is humility. The world is not nearly as easy to grasp as any of us thinks. We all are always wrong about most of what we think we know.

      Such humility would surely dampen the demand, among all but the most sociopathic, for the much more certain offenses of coercion that accompany almost any government policy.

    5. “dimpky to fknd” = simply to find?

    6. I’d like to add covfefe.

  6. In an editorial, Ioannidis observes that the zombie anesthesia trials added up to “100% (7/7) in Egypt; 75% (3/ 4) in Iran; 54% (7/13) in India; 46% (22/48) in China; 40% (2/5) in Turkey; 25% (5/20) in South Korea; and 18% (2/11) in Japan.”

    New Study: Anesthetics 100% Effective At Treating Egyptian Zombies, 18% Effective Against Japanese Zombies.

    1. So what you’re saying is, to prepare for the zombie apocalypse, I should load up on Novocaine and those seals with Chinese symbols on them?

      I’ve been doing this all wrong!

  7. How Much Scientific Research Is Actually Fraudulent?

    Get over it! Take the vaccine!

    /Lord Fauci-Lysenko

  8. The most effective lies are mangled truth.

    As science defines truth/fact/reality, mangling science makes an effective lie.

    That is until real science and logic demonstrates the lie and it becomes worthless.

    But bigots and secret societies are trying to censor truth on the internet as it already is in mainstream media.

    Think about the worlds biggest lie and how it is illegal to review evidence that refutes it in every nation where it allegedly occurred.

    1. Stormfags gotta stormfag.

      1. Science never favoured you.

        1. Tell it to my MSEE.

          1. The wannabe chemEs?

            1. I’m a ChemE and my personal experiences with EEs is that they are wicked smart and had a challenging curriculum.

    2. You are messed up inside.

      1. Like they say, beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the core.

      2. I refute that which I deny, you can’t.

        That feeling you’ve got right now is what a humiliated liar feels.

        What’s it like?

        1. How Much Scientific Research Is Actually Fraudulent?

    3. You do know that your favorite Propagandist, Joseph Goebbels practiced what he called “The Big Lie,” right? Would he have been the top inmate of your ideal prison where people are imprisoned for lying?

      1. I think your prison would be full of faithful Jews.

        Their holiest prayer on their holiest day is clearly a plan to lie. The faithful can lie for another year with the comfort and blessing of the Jewish religion. If Satan is the father of lies, members of the Jewish religion are his faithful children.

        Jewish leaders and media brag that the secret criminal satanic society of freemasonry was created to serve Jews.

        Here is the Kol Nidre text. The holiest Jewish prayer on the holiest Jewish day.

        “All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas [curses]which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect: they shall not bind us nor have any power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligations; nor the oaths be oaths.”

        1. Do the reptile people from Zeta Reticuli pray?

      2. Cite.

        Here are Jewish leaders and Jewish media bragging about owning freemasonry and their love of communism.

        THE JEWISH TRIBUNE, New York, Oct. 28, 1927, Cheshvan 2, 5688, Vol. 91, No. 18: “Masonry is based on Judaism. Eliminate the teachings of Judaism from the Masonic ritual and what is left?”

        LA VERITE ISRAELITE, Jewish paper 1861, IV, page 74: “The spirit of Freemasonry is the spirit of Judaism in its most fundamental beliefs; it is its ideas, its language, it is mostly its organization, the hopes which enlighten and support Israel. It’s crowning will be that wonderful prayer house of which Jerusalem will be the triumphal centre and symbol.”

        LE SYMBOLISM, July, 1928: “The most important duty of the Freemason must be to glorify the Jewish Race, which has preserved the unchanged divine standard of wisdom. You must rely upon the Jewish race to dissolve all frontiers.”

        AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FREEMASONRY,Philadelphia, 1906: “Each Lodge is and must be a symbol of the Jewish temple; each Master in the Chair, a representative of the Jewish King; and every Mason a personification of the Jewish workman.”

        MANUAL OF FREEMASONRY, by Richard Carlile: “The Grand Lodge Masonry of the present day is wholly Jewish.”

        THE FREEMASON, April 2, 1930, quoting Br. Rev. S. McGowan: “Freemasonry is founded on the ancient law of Israel. Israel has given birth to the moral beauty which forms the basis of Freemasonry.”

        Rabbi Br. Isaac Wise, in The Israelite of America, March 8, 1866: “Masonry is a Jewish institution whose history, degrees, charges, passwords and explanations are Jewish from beginning to end.”

        Benjamin Disraeli, Jew, Prime Minister of England, in The Life of Lord George Bentick: “At the head of all those secret societies, which form provisional governments, men of the Jewish race are to be found.”

        LATOMIA, a German Masonic journal, Vol. 12, July 1849, Page 237: “We cannot help but greet socialism (Marxism – Communism) as an excellent comrade of Freemasonry for ennobling mankind, for helping to further human welfare. Socialism and Freemasonry, together with Communism are sprung from the same source.”

        BERNARD STILLMAN, Jew, in Hebraic influences on Masonic Symbolism, 1929, quoted The Masonic News, London: “I think I have proved sufficiently that Freemasonry, as what concurs symbolism, lays entirely on a formation which is essentially Jewish.”

        O.B. Good, M.A. in The Hidden Hand of Judah, 1936: “The influence of the Jewish Sanhedrin is today more powerful than ever in Freemasonry.”

        JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1903, Vol, 5, page 503: “The technical language, symbolism and rites of Freemasonry are full of Jewish ideas and terms … In the Scottish Rite, the dates on official documents are given according to the era and months of the Jewish calendar, and use is made of the Hebraic alphabet.”

        B’NAI B’RITH MAGAZINE, Vol. 13, page 8, quoting rabbi and mason Magnin: “The B’nai B’rith are but a makeshift. Everywhere that Freemasonry can admit that it is Jewish in its nature as well as in its aims, the ordinary lodges are sufficient for the task.

        The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) of B’nai B’rith is a totally Jewish controlled organization with its main goal to destroy Christianity. (Also, the B’nai B’rith form a super-Masonic lodge where no “Gentiles” are admitted.)

        TRANSACTIONS OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY Vol. 2, p 156: “The Coat of Arms used by the Grand Lodge of England is entirely composed of Jewish symbols. FREEMASONS WORSHIP LUCIFER!

        1. Are ‘Jewish Leaders’ the same thing as ‘Black Leaders’?

          Also, those quotes aren’t exactly inflammatory, and just wait until you discover how many Scotsmen were keen on Freemasonry and Communism.
          I mean don’t spread this around but they even had a ‘Scottish Rite’. Proof positive of a Gaelic world conspiracy.

          1. Are you calling all those Jews liars?

            1. No. But unless you’re a deranged lunatic hunting for secret Jew dogwhistle’s, all those statement’s were completely innocuous.

              1. Those statements demonstrate exactly what I said.

                “Here are Jewish leaders and Jewish media bragging about owning freemasonry and their love of communism.”

                You haven’t refuted that.

        2. Minsk,
          Thank you for citing the anti-Semitism of one hundred years ago

          1. Are you calling the Jewish leaders, Jewish media and Jewish prayers anti Semitic for making those statements?

          2. Is everything Jewish anti Semitic?

            1. no just you

              1. You are a humiliated liar who can’t refute what you deny.

        3. “We see the Planet Earth as a stepping stone.”—Marshall Applewhite.

    4. Evil is vanquished when it’s lies and secret agendas are exposed and there are people with the courage and wisdom to stand up for their inalienable rights and those of others.

      Does anyone here think that we should allow a secret satanic society to operate that coerces people to join if they want to attain positions of influence in our civilization? That is what Freemasons do.

      What have you been told your cheap soul and your freedom is worth, a few dollars? Who’s gullible?

      1. Do you think this explains why Jews have been hated everywhere they set up freemasonry around the world.

        1. I thought it was because of them wearing fezzes and riding those tiny cars in the parade.

  9. The possibility that fraud may well be responsible for a significant proportion of the false positives reported in the scientific literature is suggested by a couple of new Dutch studies.

    So if most “new studies” are crap, what are the odds these new studies on new studies are themselves crap?

    But I do note the proper use of the “new studies suggest” formulation – new studies can only suggest, they don’t prove. You need follow-up studies to test the suggestion.

    1. A valid point, my friend. But think about how much easier it is to grade a paper than it is to write one, much less a medical research study that you poured a million dollars into. If you messed up your original setup and your year-long data’s contaminated, of course you will massage the data until it’s useful. You spent a million dollars and a year of your life on it.

      To compare, on this, you could start the evaluation from the beginning or just go to the next paper.

      While we should have healthy skepticism about the precise numbers, I have no question that the general conclusions are correct.

    2. Glad I wasn’t the only one to see the irony of relying on a scientific study to argue that most such studies are false.

  10. Science is really suspect. Strongly opinionated, untrained and unaccomplished internet yahoos is where the truth lives Ron.

    1. At least the internet yahoos have published!

      1. And peer reviewed!

    2. The left’s biggest hits:

      “SnOwfaLLs wiLL bE a ThiNg oF tHe pAst By 2000 2005 2015 2020 2035″

      “iT noT sCienTiFicallY pOssiBle f0r coVid T0 havE a lab0rat0ry oRigiN”

      “tRuMp t0ld pEoplE to TaKe fISh tAnK cleAner aND injEcT BleaCh aNd chloR0quine diDn’T wOrk”

      “GMOs aRe poiSon0Us”

      1. You forgot the food pyramid, gluten sensitivity, arsenate lifeforms, vaccines causing autism…

    3. Right on. I think the opinion of someone with a GED who saw a Fauci meme on Facebook should count just as much as the opinion of a biomedical researcher that spent years on their dissertation. After all, that’s how our voting works, so that’s how we should be determining public health policy as well.

      1. I think the opinion of someone with a GED who saw a Fauci meme on Facebook should count just as much as the opinion of a biomedical researcher that spent years on their dissertation.

        Nice strawman, Jeff.
        And Hey! Aren’t Team Blue the guys who cheered when actual Cambridge and Duke University virologists got censored on Twitter for spreading miSinF0rmation, that disagreed with the narrative that the WHO had crafted.
        I guess being a prominent biomedical researcher only matters to you guys if they don’t wander away from the official party line.

        After all, that’s how our voting works

        Fucking democracy, always interfering with your plans to farm humanity.

        1. I’ve been waiting for you screen handle to switch to ‘racial insurrec-theorist,’ for some reason. Call me strange, it would be true.

  11. If you start with a conclusion, and all your work is to only prove that conclusion, you are fraudulent.

    1. Ummmm….Deduction?

      1. Ummmmmm…It’s called cognitive bias. Working backward from an assumed conclusion makes the investigator susceptible to it.

        See also, global warming. I mean, cooling. I mean climate change. We’re in an ice age! We’re going to burn to a crisp in 12 years!

        1. Deduction is the dominate method in the sciences, you start with a hypothesis and then see if it’s supported or not.

          1. A hypothesis is not a conclusion.

            1. She is an idiot.

              1. No need for a hypothesis on that one.

                1. The litmus paper turned blue

            2. Uh, yeah. But that’s the start of most scientific works.

            3. A hypothesis is a guess.

          2. No, if you’re doing science of any validity you test to falsify the validity of your hypothesis. You can’t actually prove it is true but you eliminate the ways it doesn’t work and eliminate the competing hypotheses along the way. Along the way you should come up with something that approximates reality well enough that the differences aren’t relevant.

          3. No.

            You start with a hypothesis, and then you try to *disprove it*. You can never prove an hypothesis, only fail to disprove it. (If you fail enough times, you might start to believe it).

          4. No. That’s utterly wrong. Deduction is the style of reasoning most associated with mathematics and related disciplines where actual proof matters. It has a role in science, but it is not the method of inference for testing hypotheses–that goes by various names (e.g., appeal to the best explanation, abduction, or just “hypothesis testing”). A hypothesis is just a fancy word for “guess.” To figure out whether a hypothesis is true, on tries to prove it false. If we can’t manage to prove it false despite our best efforts, then we suppose it must be true (i.e., the best explanation of our inability to disprove the hypothesis is that it is true). This is not deduction. In deduction, the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. Not so with respect to appeals to the best explanation. You cannot prove a hypothesis is true; the conclusion of such an argument could be false even if all the premises are true.

            Before pontificating about The Science, you really should do some reading to learn how it actually works.

      2. No. Open a fucking logic text you ass.

    2. If you start with a conclusion, and all your work is to only prove that conclusion, you are fraudulent.

      I agree! That’s why I value the opinions of the commenters here so much, because they never behave this way when formulating their arguments here.

      1. That’s why one of my all-time intense cringes was the first time I heard the phrase “advocacy science”. Ugh.

        No matter how much one “cares” about a cause, how can you trust a person who betrays the very basis of science, while calling themselves a scientist?

    3. Fraud implies intent. We all have cognitive bias.

      1. It’s dangerous to import aspects of law (such as that the crime of fraud includes a legal element of intent) to non-legal settings.

        But if you’re going to, do it right. In this case, that means acknowledging that gross negligence is sometimes sufficient instead of explicit intent. In other words, it can still be fraud if you fail to do the things a reasonably prudent person in that situation would do. A reasonably prudent researcher trained in the Scientific Method would not start from the conclusion and reason backwards. Negligence in following such industry norms could therefore be considered fraud even if the same reasoning would be mere cognitive bias in an untrained person.

        1. well said.

    4. No, but you likely suffer from confirmation bias. OR you are replicating a previous experiment / analysis

  12. Nevertheless, I still agree with Ioannidis, who once told me, “Science is, was, and will continue to be the best thing that has happened to human beings.”

    I trust science fine. Scientists, not so much.

    1. Good observation Holden!

  13. So what can be done to stem the tide of apparently fraudulent research? Ioannidis suggests that one useful step would be to require that all datasets must be made available for reanalysis by other researchers.

    And yet no less than the New England Journal of Medicine had an editorial a few years ago arguing that scientists shouldn’t release their datasets if people were only going to use the datasets to criticize their work or try to steal their ideas. Datasets should only be released to friendly scientists who were going to support their work rather than say nasty and hurtful things about their work.

    To their credit, the NEJM didn’t specifically say that this new “no criticism allowed” standard should apply only to women, gay and black scientists, but I think we all got the hint.

    1. “or try to steal their ideas”

      Uh, yeah?

      1. I mean, data collection is a time consuming thing creating something of potential value, they should just give it away? What areas do you feel like this?

        1. Nothing requires a scientist to publish his findings. But if you’re going to publish your findings – except for the parts you don’t want to publish – well, that’s not science. Why are you announcing this shit in the first place if you’re not going to bother showing your work?

          “I just invented a new fuel induction system that allows cars to run on air.”

          “Really? How does it work?”

          “Can’t tell you because then you’ll steal my idea.”

          “Then why are you telling me this?”

          1. This is the reason 90% of rf tech is “trade secret” and not in patent.

            1. Well, sorta. I’m a tooling engineer, I do stuff that could be patented all the time, but only have 2-3 patents, because the stuff I do isn’t in the product, it’s just how the product is made, and you can’t really deduce it from looking at the product. So it’s kept proprietary, not patented.

              It actually disturbs me how much of the knowledge base of our civilization isn’t recorded for this reason. One brief interruption stopping a generation of engineers from passing it on to their successors, and it would all have to be reinvented from scratch!

              But companies prove their proprietary knowledge is real by producing products that work. That factor keeps us honest, and is often lacking in basic research.

          2. “except for the parts you don’t want to publish – well, that’s not science. ”
            Says you, but another falsehood.

          3. “Then why are you telling me this?”

            Same reason a person posts how offended they are on behalf of some group, by a comment made in a movie from the 40s: To show what a good person they are! Costs nothing, accomplishes nothing, but gains some “likes” and positive comments.

            It’s the entire rationale for virtue-signaling, and “science” should just accept anything produced by members of “historically oppressed groups”. This would show how “good” science is.

            It’s a new, and shitty, world out there.

        2. Uh, yeah?

          How can you steal an idea contained in a dataset that’s been released to the public?

          I mean, data collection is a time consuming thing creating something of potential value, they should just give it away?

          Paid for with public grant money. If the work outvalues the data, then the data is not the spoils. What does it say about the scientist when their greatest contribution isn’t sifting through the data and coming up with usable information faster than the layman, but simply collecting the data.?

          1. Here I have to disagree there is a serious lack of saying what doesn’t work. If people admitted all of their failures, why they did them, and what the fix was, acedemic literature would be far more useful because you would know what to not do.

            1. That has been identified as one of the problems: The journals are reluctant to publish work that ‘merely’ proves a hypothesis false, or falsifies a previous study. Even if it’s by the same guy as did the original study.

              You know that famous study showing gluten to be a cause of non-Celiac gut disease? Spawned countless gluten free products?

              The guy who did that study went back and did a more detailed study, and found that, no, it wasn’t actually the gluten, that was a false correlation, or a placebo effect.

              Didn’t have any effect at all on the marketing of gluten free products, you’ll notice.

            2. That is known and one reason practitioners rely more on observation than theory. Try this and see what works.

    2. Right: Trump issued an executive order requiring science relied upon by federal regulators to do this, and it was widely attacked as an assault on science, because people who disagreed with the research would have access to the data!

      1. It was widely attacked because Trump said it.

        1. Well, sure, but that was the excuse that was used, they didn’t just come out and say, “We’re attacking this because Trump said it, if Trump said that the Sun rose in the East, we’d all go blind from staring into the sunrise.”

          1. The other reason is what I like to call the Dan Rather affect. When he tried to pawn off fake documents as being from President Bush’s military records and someone got a hold of them and proved they could not have been. If you are trying to pawn off political opinion as scientific fact you don’t want some plebe to go over the data and prove you are lying.

      2. Brett,
        The open data edict of OSTP predates the orange Clown

    3. Several years ago, the US Office of Science and Technology mandated open data policy. That means raw data not subjected to analysis with proprietary software.

  14. “How Much Scientific Research Is Actually Fraudulent?”

    If you think that most “scientific research” is fraudulent, it is nothing compared with what passes for “research” in the social sciences.

      1. Sturgeon’s Law applies to drivel too.

  15. As a scientist, most of it is just good old fashion incompetence.

    1. Incompetence or hubris?

      1. incompetence or simple error. The claim of “fraudulent” is a fraud as it conflates work that contains errors, incomplete data, what is already well know (“water boils”), trivial results and real scientific misconduct.

        1. Water does what now?

    2. I have noted that during Covid. Data or research later proven incorrect by other studies was called “lying” by many people. In fact it was likely incompetence, sampling error, inadequate statistical power, or something else.

      The other side of it is people discrediting evidence disproving the original hypothesis because of their own strongly held beliefs.

      1. Some of the research is so bad, though, it’s hard to believe it was intended to be honest.

        When there’s a report that (Existing, off patent) drug X reduces severity if given right at the beginning of an illness, and another study ‘refutes’ effectiveness by trying to use it to rescue people already dying on ventilators, you seriously have to wonder if somebody didn’t think their job was to prove X worthless regardless of the facts.

      2. In the first few months of the pandemic there was considerable pressure for research (and governments) to put forth “studies” warnings, etc. much of which was shown to be either woefully incomplete or in error. That does not mean that these pronouncements were fraudulent. They were incomplete or simply incorrect.

  16. Fraud isn’t the biggest problem. Confirmation bias is the biggest problem. Scientists don’t do research to find the truth, they do research and frame the results to support their theories and pet causes.

    1. As do social scientists and politicians

    1. Fauci isn’t a scientist, he’s a medical doctor. Some scientists become medical doctors but virtually no medical doctors become scientists. The reason is simple, MDs have egos that simply won’t allow them to adopt the scientific method.

      MDs are accustomed to the usual – enter symptoms & test results into ipad then treat the most popular illness. If that doesn’t work, treat the next most popular illness. Repeat until something works or patient dies. This isn’t science, it’s drawing straws by database.

      Oh, forget physics, MDs don’t have the math skills for physics. It’s why they couldn’t decide if covid was transmitted more by air or wiping your nose after touching your car or some tree on a hiking trail.

      1. And unlike mds scientists can’t bury their mistakes

      2. MDs are like mechanics who have studied car design.

        1. That is a fair analogy. Without whom the mistakes of the car designers would never be diagnosed and repaired.

        2. “MDs are like mechanics who have studied car design.”

          If by “studied car design” you mean ” spent two years in classrooms studying car design, then spent two years observing and helping fix cars, followed by a few more years actually fixing cars” then you are spot on.

          1. Next time you’re sicj go to a body shop. You’ll save money

      3. Fauci is not a real doctor. He hasn’t seen a patient since his residency. Spent his whole career as a bureaucrat.

      4. “Fauci isn’t a scientist, ”
        Says you. You seem to know very little about his lifetime work

        1. Fauci has no degrees in science. He has never practiced medicine. His “lifetime work” includes botching the responses to AIDS, swine flu, and COVID. He is neither a real scientist nor a real doctor.

  17. I’d say if the last 18 months are any indication, most of it.

    1. In all honesty:

      I don’t have access to the raw data, nor do I have a team of biostatisticians to interpret it for me. How can I believe anything the government and their friends in the news/infotainment conglomerates have to say about Covid? Really?

      1. A little common sense will tell you most of it is bullshit.

        1. in other words, you have never analyzed the data in any serious manner.

  18. John Ionnidis should know about scientific health fraud, as he has authored many articles advocating banning the manufacture and sale of ALL tobacco products, even though cigarette smoking is attributable for 99% of all tobacco attributable morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs.

    Hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed that smokeless tobacco products (Skoal, Copenhagen, Grizzly, chewing tobacco), vapor products/e-cigarettes, and dissolvable oral tobacco/nicotine products are 99% less harmful than cigarettes.

    During the past 50 years, several million American male cigarette smokers (mostly whites in rural areas) quit smoking by switching to smokeless tobacco, while about ten million American smokers have quit smoking in the past decade by switching to vaping.

    Meanwhile, cigars are about 90% less harmful than cigarettes, as most cigar smokers don’t inhale the smoke or consume them daily.

    But Ionnidis (and other Puritan tobacco prohibitionist) refuses to acknowledge (i.e. denies) the exponential differences in disease risk by different tobacco products, and instead insists that all tobacco companies and tobacco products must be banned, which will just create black markets.

    1. While Ionnidis was correct about the rapid spread of Covid last year,
      he’s an unscientific and unethical tobacco prohibitionist.

      1. While Ionnidis was correct about the rapid spread of Covid last year

        Umm, I predicted the rapid spread of COVID last year, and I’m a middling network engineer at a manufacturing company.

        1. The rapid spread was actually a lot like the spanish flu with very similar biological responses like a cytokine storm. It seems a good bet that transmission would be more alike than not. You’d think scientific people would recognize such similarities. Oddly most medical doctors didn’t until someone else made it embarrassingly obvious then again MDs aren’t scientists.

          1. very similar biological responses like a cytokine storm

            Cytokine storm is a myth alongside Syndrome X and homocysteine as a smoking gun for heart disease. It’s like finding someone dead of a bullet wound, culturing their blood, and upon finding bacteria in their blood stream, declaring they died of sepsis.

            The Spanish Flu killed a much younger portion of the population. The explanation, posited some 50 yrs. after the last person died of Spanish Flu, was that younger, healthier immune systems were more susceptible cytokine storm. An etiology completely at odds with COVID’s clear preference for killing older adults.

          2. Most of medicine is empirical. It is based on observation rather than theory. So medical doctors are not very good at predictions.

            1. You really talk yourself into some very deep holes.

              What makes therapy empiric is pretty much the exact opposite of what you say. Empiric therapy is treatment based on theory in situations where you cannot make the necessary observations.

              A common example is the treatment of otitis media (middle ear infection) with antibiotics. Unless the ear drum is ruptured you cannot obtain (‘observe’) a sample for culture and antibiotic sensitivity lab work (an, often, even when it is ruptured any sample is suspect due to contamination with external ear canal/skin bacteria).

              So instead you make a ‘best guess’ based upon the theory that the infection is bacterial in nature and is likely to respond well to antibiotics that have worked well in the past. Which is a form of prediction.

              It is only when the prediction proves wrong that the practitioner will then begin grasping for other solutions to the problem.

          3. “aren’t scientists.”
            obviously neither are you.

    2. For clarification, I agree with the statements by Ionnidis that Bailey quoted in this article.

      This demonstrates that some of the smartest and most objective people on some issues are the least objective and scientific on other issues.

      1. Here’s another editorial by Ionnidis advocating worldwide laws banning ALL tobacco product manufacturing and sales (and likely possession and use) even though cigarettes are the only type of tobacco product that poses disease risks (because cigarette smokers typically inhale massive amounts of smoke100-200 per day for decades).

        1. Really? 10 to 20 packs a day? Typical?
          Perhaps this proves the article hypothesis.

        2. Chewing tobacco promotes lip and mouth cancer.

        3. Sheesh, you would think that maybe Ioannidis and the rest of the anti-tobacco zealots had heard of how successful the war on drugs was, or alcohol prohibition…

      2. “This demonstrates that some of the smartest and most objective people on some issues are the least objective and scientific on other issues.”

        I am extremely skeptical when a highly specialized person speaks with certainty about anything far removed from their specialty. IMO, in such situations, the generalist (or anyone who speaks with humility/less certainty) is more trustworthy than the oh-so confidant specialist.

  19. Perhaps an entry into regarding parody papers submitted (and enthusiastically accepted) to the critical theories departments might also be in order.

  20. Public funds are magnets for fraud. If the government puts up a billion in money for research, you will get at least 500 million in fraud. They make it worse with selection bias. The funds are seeking predetermined outcomes. If they think you will discover something that doesn’t fit the narrative, you don’t get the funds.

    1. “They make it worse with selection bias. The funds are seeking predetermined outcomes. If they think you will discover something that doesn’t fit the narrative, you don’t get the funds.”

      ^^^This; And it’s so funny that it’s right out in the open for everyone to see it.

      $5M grant to provide evidence that smokeless tobacco is harmful to ???; doesn’t matter – anyone you can make up.
      “fit the narrative”

      Problem #1 — Gov-Gods control over YOUR labors. I see no Constitutional authority to be *stealing* from the people to feed them fraudulent *narratives*.

      A common practice of Communist and Socialist nations. SHOULDN’T be a common practice of the USA.

    2. It is not so much that. It is the competition in academics to publish or perish. Same reason you see a lot of crap in humanities departments. You have to write something so they just put out anything.

      People tend latch onto one study and persist in believing it even if it turns out disproven later. The media drives this and creates a lot of disinformation.

    3. “you will get at least 500 million in fraud. ”
      How about you provide a scintilla of real evidence for you preposterous claim. I do not mean an anecdote. I mean real evidence of deliberate fraud

  21. Is this the same Lancet that “scientifically” concluded that the United States occupation of Iraq in 2003 had caused 654,000 civilian deaths? The one that made very basic mistakes like assuming that all “casualties” were people who died?

    1. Yep. The one and only.

    2. Overall it is a very good journal but they have made some mistakes and let things slip through which were false like that one and the MMR autism study.

      They are not alone in that. Journal articles are retracted on a regular basis.

      1. “Overall it is a very good journal”

        No. It really is not.

      2. They (Lancet) were directly complicit in the coordinated attempt by the US Gov (NIH), the journals, and YouTube/Twitter/FB to label the possibility of a lab leak as conspiracy theory and censor it accordingly.

  22. Welcome to Post-modern, social justice Science!

    1. This has been going on forever. Actual good science was the exception rather than the rule for most of history.

      1. Consider that, in the early stages, phrenology represented some of the best science of its time. Of course, the Spanish Inquisition was likewise some of the best jurisprudence of its time

        Sadly both science and jurisprudence have had their ups and downs, and it appears both are currently on a downward trend.

        1. And also consider that the Salem Witch Trials were an improvement over the Inquisition…

  23. time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise.

    Birthday Wish SMS

    Bengali Shayari

  24. “90% of published scientific papers are crap.”

    — Theodore Sturgeon, 1957

    ” And so are 95% of the remainder.”

    — Marvin Minsky, 1974

    The proof of Sturgeon’s Law & Minsky’s Corollary is that for every highly cited paper, there are over 180 more practically no on has ever heard of.

    1. “for every highly cited paper, there are over 180 more practically no on has ever heard of.”
      which proves very little

    2. I should say more. Many papers are read by engineers and practitioners who are interested in how the science is done, on how an instrument may be used. The fact that such persons have no intention of writing a paper that cites their reading, says zero about the value of a paper.

      Right now I am studying seven rather complicated papers. I have no intention to publish in this area, but I am highly motivated to understand the area. So the lack of citations by me means nothing with respect to the value, profundity or relevance of the manuscripts.

      Typically the journal impact factors of instrumentation journals is low, in the range of 1 to 2. Yet these journals are of great utility to researchers.

  25. Ronald – Here’s a suggestion on how we combat scientific fraud.

    First, as correctly noted, “research misconduct is a systems problem—the system provides incentives to publish fraudulent research and does not have adequate regulatory processes.” Therefore we need to change the system.

    I propose we do this by setting aside one-third of the NIH budget to fund studies that attempt to replicate portions of the remaining two-thirds.

    Given that it will often be much more expensive to replicate a study rather than conduct it in the first place (i.e. specific equipment, personnel is hard to reproduce), not every study can nor should be replicated. A small portion, perhaps replicating 5% of published papers, however will be a sufficient enough of threat to discourage scientists from engaging in fraud.

    This will have additional benefits beyond reducing fraud. For instance, as scientists are forced to be more careful and measured in their claims, it will reduce the outrageous hype we often see today in scientific research.

    1. Replication is where the rubber meets the road. Without that you got nuttin’.

    2. We, Paleface? “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” Richard Feynman

  26. Very nice and really so cool. Thank you so much.

  27. LSD was used to cure alcoholism, to the chagrin of the Whiskey Oligopsony which had spent a fortune on politicians. Suddenly, “scheduled” drugs became settled science. Any who proved that cigarette fascination or a crush on coke did not qualify as “addiction” were arrested, sentenced, jailed, fined, work permits torn up. Any now presuming to run double-blind tests to prove only morphine and barbiturates are addictive, while nail-biting, beer and stimulants aren’t, faces arrest and railroading. That is Settled Pseudoscience in an entrenched looter Kleptocracy.

  28. First drop social science as it is all bs. Economics is mostly bs…especially macro economics keynsian style.

    Ok now to brass tacks:
    1. Physics: Hard to fudge in most cases and physicists are the most egocentric or moral (your pick) and live to find holes in other folks papers. Chemistry is pretty close to physics

    2. Engineering: Again similar to physics and chemistry

    3. Earth Science: Ok here is where we start to run into systematic trouble esp around climate modeling. The “rah rah” and govt funding is all about “finding” evidence of global warming, climate change or what of course most of the research validates what the “funders” want. This field historically never got the funding that physics did after WW2 so the scientists are tend to go with the “wind.”…in this case “climate change” is here and causing massive destruction of humanity. It also helps that “models” are which can’t be tested in the lab are the most prone to fudging. Everyone knows that..”garbage in, gospel out” is what we just to joke back in the 80’s when I worked in high energy fusion research (yes that is one area of Physics that is pretty corrupt..always 20 years away from commercial use).

    4. Biochemistry/Pharma: oh boy where do you start here? Big pharma has pretty much corrupted the entire research establishment in this one..pumping marginally better or not drugs which are “new” and can charge “patent” prices. It is hard to accept these days any study from a pharma as mostly they are barely statistically relevant and very easy to “spin.”

    Overall I would question any paper that either supports some political positive that the funders are pushing (like climate change)…Science is about verifying through emperical evidence a claim..if you can’t..then it isnt’ science by religion or politics..

    I Honestly don’t get why the chief science writer for Reason doesn’t have a hard science or engineering degree…

    1. Physics isn’t so hard to fake, these days. The theoretical branch is increasingly full of fudge-factors, and the experimental branch (measurements) is increasingly full of noise.

      1. “Physics isn’t so hard to fake, these days.”
        As my friend, an outstanding theorist told me,
        “Ignorance is always pregnant.”

        Indeed it is!

  29. As someone who trained to be an academic researcher in biomedical science, I can tell you there is strong incentive to cheat. If you don’t have the result you need and your paper doesnt get published, you could be looking at unemployment.

    1. But if you DO cheat, you get screwed even worse, later. You can be looking at unemployment, and at becoming unemployable forever.

      Look up the story of what happened in Peter G. Schultz’ lab with the attempt to expand the genetic code and amino-acid tool-box to include a pre-glycosylated amino-acid. HINT: blackmail, extortion, retraction, and, the principal victim got denied tenure even though he was not at fault in any way, except, perhaps, in having trusted one of his colleagues too much.

      1. then you just go all “breaking bad” dont you? … start your own ‘biomedical’ business?

        1. You have to get caught first, which, as his article points out, is pretty rare. Completely fudging all your data is even more rare, but it is common practice to neaten things up by removing data that doesn’t fit your hypothesis

  30. This is like saying “In the 20th Century, 95% of explorations for oil in Texas, failed. So we shouldn’t have bothered exploring!”

  31. This kind of claim (“95% of scientific research is wrong, fraudulent, or useless!”) assumes that research is homogeneous, like, say, grape soda, and what matters is how much you have. That’s wrong. Science is like an orchard. And if the roots, trunks, and branches are sound, why should we care that most of the twigs are useless, and most of the leaves are dying or moribund, and most of the bark is dead?

  32. Like civics, science is being ignored in primary education. I had to visit a highschool biology and set her straight on GMO crops. My daughter came home and said the teacher was claiming Corn that fought off specific insects was killing the birds that eat the insects.
    So ludicrous. The plant produces a specific protein the larva cant digest. Within the first several bites. The larva are so small, even if the larva were toxic, the birds would have to eat thousands before the carcass would disappear. All the teacher was doing was repeating internet talking points. Simple reasoning and logic should have exposed the lie in a matter of seconds.

    The larger point, as we have seen with covid, chanting “science” is the new dogma used to control the masses. Yet today our “science” “leaders” refuse to explore herd immunity and ignore 100 million in the US that have immunity from contracting covid. Why is that?

    1. “The larger point, as we have seen with covid, chanting “science” is the new dogma used to control the masses.”
      That I have to agree with.

      Check out all the BLM sympathy signs that say “I believe science.” Serious science is not meant to be a belief system.

  33. Cold fusion in the 80s. That was a big flop. But that is how science goes. And the perish or publish philosophy in Academia creates all sorts of BS, especially in the soft sciences, like Psychology and Sociology. And waste. But so does free competition. It is how it goes…. I am impressed how tech has developed in the past 50 years and continues to develop. Just because there is a lot of crap doesn’t mean progress hasn’t been made. Heck, developing a vaccine in a way that can let us develop any vaccine quickly, using the RNA methodology, is game changing. The internet, cell phones, AI, reusable rocketry, etc. Science is like making sausages. Ugly and seems like there is a lot of waste. Just enjoy the final product. And remember, that if it seems too good to be true it probably is, like the EM drive that seemed exciting but improbable. I would never bet on violating conservation of momentum or for that matter a perpetual motion machine, though it would be great to be wrong about either of those core scientific principles.

    1. So, is it time to take down my “We Believe Science is Real” yard sign?

      1. You bet it is.

  34. A few years back, the American Psychiatric Association admitted that over 50% of psychiatric studies were not reproducible. That means you would have a better outcome flipping a coin. There is no reason to believe this is limited to psychiatry.

  35. Due to increasingly common privatized research for corporate profit aims, even ‘scientific fact’, to a concerning degree, is for sale. Research results, however flawed, can and are known to be publicly amplified if they favor the corporate product, and accurate research results can be suppressed if they are unfavorable to business interests, even when involving human health.

    Health Canada (our version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) was established to act in Canadian consumers’ best interests yet is susceptible to corporate lobbyist manipulation. For one thing, it allowed novelty-flavored vaping products to be fully marketed — even on corner stores’ candy counters — without conclusive independent scientific proof that the product, as claimed by the tobacco industry, would not seriously harm consumers but rather help nicotine addicts wean themselves off of the more carcinogenic cigarette means of nicotine deliverance. A few years before that, Health Canada had sat on its own research results that indicated seatbelts would save lives and reduce injury; it wanted even more proof of safety through seatbelts before ordering big bus manufacturers to install them in every bus.

    To me, those examples smell of science-be-damned lobbyist manipulation — something that should not prevail in a government body established primarily, if not solely, to protect consumers’ safety and health rather than big businesses’ monetary concerns.

    P.S. I doubt the American FDA is any more ethical/moral.

    1. The FDA actually tied for years to block all vaping products until a judge decided that they posed no more of a threat to health than traditional cigarettes do. No plans yet to ban those, here or in Canada…

  36. No way. It’s SCIENCE!

  37. Unfortunately, the funding for much scientific research has become the focus. Get the money and worry about truth and integrity later.

  38. Research has shown that 90% of all research is wrong.

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