“You’re not instilling a lot of confidence into me, Doc!”

Thus said Marty McFly in Back to the Future. The scene was Doc Brown simulating the lightning bolt that would send Marty in the DeLorean back to 1985… and the model car caught fire. But it works for this news as well: research doctor is accused of having falsified data in at least 21 studies (and perhaps more), as far back as 1996. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to know that stuff like this goes on. Plus, at least two of the papers had the name of another doctor on them as a co-author, though the other doctor says he had no part in writing them, and the addition of his name was a forgery. Niiiiiiice. One of the basic tenets or underpinnings of research is that the authors, researchers, scientists and doctors are all academically and intellectually honest. While they may have hidden biases (or open biases), and they are human so may make errors, the automatic assumption is that they attempt to be as honest as possible. If we can’t trust the research, then we’re back to “he said, she said” — the blind leading the blind.

To me, this undermines the whole field of science and research. It shouldn’t, but it does. Sort of like the woman that finds out her husband is cheating on her, and then thinks all men are scumbags like her husband. Not fair, but understandable. I think of Dr. Hannah who did the Term Breech Trial which more or less completely eliminated the possibility of vaginal breech birth. Other researchers have questioned the conclusion of the paper, and the validity of some of the negative outcomes that were included in the paper. The Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has in fact reversed its recommendations, citing the problems with the paper, and is now suggesting that doctors learn how to properly manage breech birth. It seems that a couple of other major studies Dr. Hannah did have likewise come under similar criticism — though I don’t know that they have been retracted. Though the results may be invalid, I would assume that at least she was academically honest — I believe she did actually perform the research, and the data was real — so is better than that guy. Some people will point to his getting caught as an example of “the system working,” while others (like me) will say that if the system was actually working, it shouldn’t have gone on as long as it did. I understand that it is impractical to “police” doctors to make sure fraud like this doesn’t occur, and I’m not advocating treating researchers like two-year-olds. At the least, I’m asking for a return to integrity. Like in so many other areas, if people would “just do the right thing” then there wouldn’t have to be laws and fines and oversight committees and what-not. I don’t think that’s asking too much.


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