Editors of World’s Most Prestigious Medical Journals: “Much of the Scientific Literature, Perhaps HALF, May Simply Be Untrue"...

George Washington's picture

Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine are the two most prestigious medical journals in the world.

It is therefore striking that their chief editors have both publicly written that corruption is undermining science.

The editor in chief of Lancet, Richard Horton, wrote last month:

Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity [i.e. pervasiveness within the scientific culture] of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.




Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right.

Similarly, the editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell, wrote in 2009:

It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

In her must-read essay, Dr. Angell skewers drug companies, university medical departments, and medical groups which set the criteria for diagnosis and treatment as being rotten with corruption and conflicts of interest.

And we’ve previously documented that the government sometimes uses raw power to cover up corruption in the medical and scientific fields.

Postscript: Corruption is not limited to the medical or scientific fields. Instead, corruption has become systemic throughout every profession ... and is so pervasive that it is destroying the very fabric of America.

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Bemused Observer's picture

Science, just like finance and so many other fields, have become sclerotic, stagnant pools instead of the vibrant, circulating, always-being-refreshed systems they started out as. They have their own ruling elites who determine membership, dues, scope of practice, etc. New ideas are not appreciated, unless there is profit to be made. One by one, all the various little streamlets that constantly fed into the field have been shut off.

Colleges, in collusion with the fields, are degree-producing assembly lines. They teach to the established wisdom, and pump out perfect little soldiers for each field.

TPTB in medicine, like all other fields, does not welcome challenges to their status quo. Their trade journals will reflect this. Article after article that reinforces the knowledge du jour...very few that actively challenge the majority belief. Their various supervisory boards issue statements on this or that...ie: vaccination, and all are expected to comply with the board, or face disciplinary action. Instead of keeping an open mind, and encouraging active dialogue, they stake a firm position and plant themselves there. How many such "firm positions" has the medical field had over the years that later proved false? Wouldn't it be wise to adopt a little humility, and leave open the possibility that we COULD be wrong again?

So of course a lot of the articles will be questionable. People who join inflexible organizations become inflexible themselves, and inflexible people are frequently wrong.

Infinite QE's picture

The zios have infiltrated everything and brought their corrupting essence to it all.

Hyjinx's picture

THIS is the project to watch:  https://osf.io/p7ayb/

One of my former colleagues had his study picked for it!  Replication is a huge problem in fundamental biology for a number of reasons - the demands of granting organizations being a major one.  I think the above project is a great and noble start to pushing back against the bullshit out there.

dizzyfingers's picture

...corruption "destroying the very fabric of America"...

Yes indeed, George, except for the gerund.

I think "has destroyed" probably is more accurate. After all, it's been happening over 200 years.

Who was that masked man's picture

Science continues to become the religion of the twenty first century alligned more and more closely with politics as a means to influence and control the people.  Look no further than "climate science" for proof but now spreading to many other fields.

follicle's picture
follicle (not verified) Jun 2, 2015 6:42 AM

This is entirely true, which I say from a certain knowledge of the subject -- but it leaves out the biggest cause of the problem, the funding of research by private interests. These excerpts above imply that the reason for the damage to med research is researchers' sensationalism... but actually, when they are being funded to prove something the drug companies, their frequent funders, want to hear, they don't have intellectual freedom. That is, negative studies (ones that don't say what the drug companies want) often don't get published. Studies aren't designed to look for potential problems, only to prove what the patent owners want. And so on and so on.

matagorda's picture

Well at least science has a conscience.  Economics, as a pseudo-science that admits has no basis in observed reality, not so much.

ihot's picture


An example happened in Korea where that entire nation and mass media was fooled by one Stem cell researcher:




coltek's picture

If you ain't cheatin' - you ain't tryin'.


Max Keiser?

JoJoJo's picture

You mean that those medical reports that confirmed that global warming is responsible for increased incidences of cancer and mental illness may not be factual?

hardcleareye's picture


I think you need to go back and reread your article a few years back were you touched on trolls and logical fallacies and apply it to your article...

And if you need a refresher here a simple web site on logic fallacies...  can you count the fallacies you committed in your article??





farmerunder's picture

One of the things i find real interesting is the research which comes out of China is some times in disagreement to that of the west. Now maybe some would say theres is dodgy, what if both were the product of conflicts of interest and where would we be in terms of progress if they had got their shit together and worked towards a common goal. did u see that? a flock of flying pork.

Mike Ochisbent's picture

If there's one thing I've learned after studying science/pre-med in college (and NOT pursuing it) is that those who "succeed" are often little more than barking seals who are great at memorizing vast amounts of data and regurgitating it back to their professors' satisfaction. Critical thinking and independent thinking are not high on their "to do lists". It's hard to find a "medical professional" who isn't addicted to the argument by authority paradigm. They are robots.

Kyle L's picture

I work in the biomedical field, there is no way half the reports are even correct, I would say 10-20% are "correct" in that the data is not completely made up.  Even then the conclusions are completely inappropriate.  In my experience 98% of the papers in my field are completely useless.

jmaloy5365's picture

And maybe they will finally say smoking is actually good for you.

I smoke, never been sick a day in my life.

Shitgum Suicide's picture
Shitgum Suicide (not verified) Jun 1, 2015 11:09 PM

Hey ann. Trying asking any AGW believer what most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet is and I bet you 99% of them say CO2. It's actually water vapor. And the'll look at you like you are some kind of nut.

Such indoctrination of so many minds paid for by you and everyone else. I'd say not me but when the govt just shifts federal taxes to fit whatever they need well it's kind of a losing battle but I do what I can.

honestann's picture

Good to see an article about this topic.  As a lifelong scientist, engineer, inventor and product developer working mostly at the leading-edge, I've been posting this warning in my ZH messages for years.

When people who benefit from the lies and corruption start admitting how bad the state of science is, you can be certain the actual situation is much, much worse... which it is.

What is almost worse (if that's possible), but not mentioned in the article, is the overwhelming degree of hostility and abuse reserved for any scientist who [naively] expects honesty from government, corporate or university departments, and who refuse to buckle under and become utterly corrupt themselves.

They are abused, trashed... then fired.  And they are given disastrous reviews whenever anyone at a potential future position calls for a recommendation.  And many are so naive that they don't even understand what happened, and can't believe human beings can be so intentionally corrupt and destructive... "especially in science".

It has gotten so bad that anyone who really needs to understand reality must totally ignore what everyone else says, and perform their own observations, experimentation, thought and reflection, then draw their own provisional inferences (then rinse and repeat indefinitely).

SMC's picture


Very well said, Thank You!

TeethVillage88s's picture

I just had a thought that THIS is what happened at the Tower of Babble. The tower was a tower of Lawyers and Bankers. The result was all the people were confused about what was True, what WORDS Meant, how to Count, what was Value, and what was honesty, honest work, and honest Leaders.

VWAndy's picture

That tower of babble thing is why I like the idea of grand juries of spelling bee champs. Over time that tower would be torn down. Think in the longest terms you can grasp.

dreadnaught's picture

anyone read HOSPITAL by Dr. X?

Shitgum Suicide's picture
Shitgum Suicide (not verified) Jun 1, 2015 10:54 PM

Yes yes I'm here everyone. As promised I remain
To hound this fraud of information and the purveyor of disinformation known as GW.

Speaking of the corruption of scientific fraud here's one right up your assneck.

Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.[2]


rex-lacrymarum's picture

In climate science it's probably more like 90%. In the social sciences, such as economics, 95% of what is published is viciously statist, incomprehensible gibberish. 

Heterodox economics's picture

The editor had in mind medicine and the natural sciences.  Let me tell you, its much worse in the "social sciences."

Most articles in political science journals do not have quantative analysis or any formulas with predictive power.  The articles are more like op-ed pieces written at a more sophisticated level.

There are at least two main problems with economics articles.  One is methodology.  Emprirical data is not used. Instead, the paper presents various assumptions, mathematically expressed, and a conclusion is derived.  Q.E.D.   And I'm dubious about the assumptions presented.  And in logic, if only one step in the argument is false, the entire argument in invalid.

The second problem with economic articles is lack of relevance.  I  seached for economic articles which predicted, within a year, the economic/financial catastrophe of late 2008.  I took a cursory glance of over 100 articles, and none of them predicted a catasrophe.

Sociology articles are divided into two styles: one is either surveys, the other is armchair theorizing, usually of a left wing political bent.









Roanman's picture

Save this piece and pull it out the next time some moron tells you, "I believe in science."


Boubou's picture

You can believe in science. You can't believe in scientists from a totally corrupt society who have learned that success comes from cheating and lying and integrity is valued not at all.

Not just scientists  - every walk of life  , press, Church, finance, military, business, politics.

This is what we learn from our leaders - the masters of unscrupulous lying and corruption.

Roanman's picture

The problem with believing in Science is that it is for the most part represented by scientists which as you point out above are "totally corrupt". the two are indistiguishable from a practical standpoint.

Jack Burton's picture

Let's be clear here, the story meant to say Medical Science, influenced by major drug companies who manipulate science to boost product sales. Not science. There is a big difference between particle physics and Viagra trials!

inorganic's picture

Sorry, but all pretty much all science has been corrupted.  Maybe if you can find some niche areas that no governments or corporations has any interest in, and is not based upon any areas that government or corporations have interest in, then probably you'll find fewer lies and less corruption.

However, I can assure you, the "science" of particle physics is loaded with lies and fraud.  In fact, though many computations performed with techniques developed as part of the field usually called "quantuum physics" are quite helpful, the standard interpretation of quantuum physics is a blatant lie and complete fraud.  And a great deal of BS is funded because the fraudulant interpretation is always preferred by government and large corporations.

Even areas of science that you'd think have ZERO practical application, and thus no reason for government or corporations to pervert, have been massively manipulated.  One example is the class Big Bang Theory, which arose (and seemed quite plausible) because spectral lines from smaller and fainter galaxies (which are thus presumably further away) are shifted further to the red than larger and brighter galaxies.  Over just a few decades this conclusion became scientific dogma, and the few scientists who even questioned this interpretation of the red-shift were essentially run out of town (their careers were [largely or completely] destroyed).  This dispite the fact that there is clearly no way to be certain what kinds of forces and phenomenon may exist and present themselves on the scale of billions of light-years.

Where someone else controls the purse strings, honest science is almost always seriously restrained, destroyed, or perverted.  Also, even when someone is not controlled by others, many have personal, emotional reasons to want a specific result... and they will usually find a way to pretend they got that result.  Only someone who "simply and only wants to know what is" can perform science effectively, because their agenda is only to find the truth, no matter what that might be.

PS:  On this last point I might add something.  A scientist who is looking into a certain field with intent to apply his discoveries to make some real, physical device or machine do amazing new things tends to "only care about the truth".  Why?  Because he knows perfectly well that his device or machine will "crash and burn" or "just not function" if his theories are bogus.

LawsofPhysics's picture

I don't think you understand how peer review works, especially when it comes to funding.  Try again.

Roanman's picture

Unless we're discussing "Climate Science" in which case, there is a strong liklihood that your garden variety viagra trial is significantly more rigorous.

Roger Knights's picture


Here’s a terrific book with apposite quotes, a few of which I include below, and others of which can be read at my review at the link:

Quotes from Anthony Standen’s Science is a Sacred Cow, [1950], 1958, Dutton Paperback.

Used copies are available inexpensively on Amazon athttp://www.amazon.com/Science-Sacred-Cow-Standen/dp/0525470166/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213281131&sr=1-1


15-16: Scientists are convinced that they, as scientists, possess a number of very admirable human qualities, such as accuracy, observation, reasoning power, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, and even humility.


18-19 [Certain people (called “science fiends” later in the book)] suppose that because science has penetrated the structure of the atom it can solve all the problems of the universe.… They are known in every … college as the most insufferable, cocksure know-it-alls. If you want to talk to them about poetry, they are likely to reply that the “emotive response” to poetry is only a conditioned reflex…. If they go on to be professional scientists, their sharp corners are rubbed down, but they undergo no fundamental change. They most decidedly are not set apart from the others by their intellectual integrity and faith, and their patient humility in front of the facts of nature…. They are uneducated, in the fullest sense of the word, and they certainly are no advertisement for the claims of science teachers.


23-24: Mr. Hillaire Belloc has pointed out that science has changed greatly, and for the worse, since it became popular. Some hundred years ago, or more, only very unusual, highly original spirits were attracted to science at all; scientific work was therefore carried out by men of exceptional intelligence. Now, scientists are turned out by mass production in our universities, and … they are very ordinary professional men, and all they know is their trade.


25: It all comes down to correlations…. Very often they argue that the one thing caused the other, when it might have been the other way round. Executives have been found to have a large vocabulary; therefore, learn ten new words every day and you will become an executive. Or else, there will be an argument that, in principle, runs like this: a man gets drunk on Monday on whisky and soda water; he gets drunk on Tuesday on brandy and soda water; and on Wednesday on gin and soda water. What caused his drunkenness? Obviously, the common factor, the soda water.


26: As advertising always convinces the sponsor even more than the public, the scientists have become sold, and remain sold, on the idea that they have the key to the Absolute, and that nothing will do for Mr. Average Citizen but to stuff himself full of electrons.


28: A theory is simply a well-tested hypothesis, but there is no sharp dividing line.


31: They will define these [terms] in tight phrases which convey a meaning only to those who already understand it.


31: The dreadful cocksureness that is characteristic of scientists in bulk is not only quite foreign to the spirit of true science, it is not even justified by a superficial view.


sonoftx's picture

"The Mismeasure of Man" is a good read on this lack of heresy.

Dixie Flatline's picture
Dixie Flatline (not verified) Jun 1, 2015 7:13 PM

The editor in chief of Lancet, Richard Horton, wrote last month:

Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.


The irony, it's overwhelming.  The Lancet is a joke.

nmewn's picture

But but but...we've done modeling, polling & testing!

Lots & lots of models, meticulously prepared for you showing our theory to be true! And its all been tested over & over again discarding data showing our predetermined hypothesis to be false!

So, its all absolutely true!!! ;-)

_SILENCER's picture

People didn't start dropping dead with the mind of an eggplant until the establishment started telling everyone that Cholesterol was a demon.

Shitgum Suicide's picture
Shitgum Suicide (not verified) George Washington Jun 1, 2015 11:04 PM

The problem isn't which kind of cholesterol, it the fact that some people have bad genetics as well as lifestyle who eat the most god awful shot imaginable day I and day out. Even those fuckers don't die until 80.

As always you lose. Especially when sighting your own blog. You make this too easy for a bot. Just like me!!!

SmedleyButlersGhost's picture

I'm kind of wasting your time (waiting for a fight on a different thread) but being rural, white stuff bad. ;processed bad.  correct? ;anyway - shtf - colour probably irrelevant   all te best - me

Just thought about it - you have no idea who I am - arsehole who didn't know to click the links to your articles. Too kind answer - tks again

silentboom's picture

Corrupt money......corrupt everything.

Rhal's picture

I'm suprised this was even published. I've been reviewing info of human remains far older than the official dogma and the researchers fired for discovering them. I've also been reviewing the world from the quantum physics perspective: reality is not materialist. it must be a shared-subjective illusion : https://youtu.be/4C5pq7W5yRM

And every time I talk to someone with cancer I urge them to add natual remedies to their fight (always to no avail, but I try anyhow.)


Pure science is awesome. But todays psudo-science is part of the paradigm that will eventually be swept away. 

Pancho de Villa's picture
Pancho de Villa (not verified) Jun 1, 2015 6:42 PM



Are the poles going to flip again or not?

armageddon addahere's picture

Isn't there enough trouble in eastern europe without the poles flipping out?

Rhal's picture

Yes. Almost immediately, -within 10 000 years. 

Geological time is kinda stretched out like that...

the grateful unemployed's picture

so in stock market terms its easier to bring a bad company public?

SteveB1945's picture

Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right.

Just saying those words makes me shudder. Why in the world would anyone need an incentive to report honestly? 

The above words demonstrate an awareness that corruption is pretty much a given, and that to prevent it, we have to punish or pay people to do the right thing. 


I'm actually puzzled...aren't "scientists" supposed to search for the truth?  Aren't they supposed to be arbiters of what is fact and what is not?

By making the statement above, the writer makes clear that we are on our own in the search for information.

rwe2late's picture

 But there are (sometimes financial, or possibly personal) incentives to do

what is "right"!

However, the financial incentives to do otherwise are often greater and rather irresistible in a society dominated by the ethos that

"greed is good".

blindman's picture

@.." Why in the world would anyone need an incentive to report honestly? "
it is because the entire reality we experience has been privatized
, securitized and financialized/fictionalized; subject to the
powers that be/have created this conceptual mask/overlay upon
reality. we have unfortunately accepted it as "intelligence"
of some sort. (stupidity rules).
the issuers of expertise have debts they cannot pay outside
the illusory paradigm they are indebted too. mortgages, loans
or rent to feed themselves. it is simple and very effective
till it fails fabulously.