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“Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?”

Not my question, for a change. No, this time it’s the former editor of the British Medical Journal in a blistering editorial.

Worried about research fraud for around 40 years, Dr Richard Smith is sounding the alarm AGAIN after a series of investigations into systematic reviews.

Dr Smith describes the experience of Ian Roberts, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who “began to have doubts about the honest reporting of trials after a colleague asked if he knew that his systematic review showing that mannitol halved death from head injury was based on trials that had never happened”!

Roberts headed up a group at Cochrane – medical science’s go-to repository for reviews of “gold standard” trials. Its catchphrase is “Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health”. Yeah right. 

“He compared the original idea of systematic reviews as searching for diamonds, knowledge that was available if brought together in systematic reviews; now he thinks of systematic reviewing as searching through rubbish”, says Smith. 

Medical science, dominated by the interests of Big Pharma., is not to be trusted. Its concept of “evidence-based medicine” is a scam, since the published evidence has been shown time and time again to be unreliable.

This is Dr Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine: “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 NEJM”.

Six years ago, Roberts wrote in the BMJ: “The knowledge system underpinning healthcare is not fit for purpose and must change”, warning (again) that systematic reviews were a major problem. 

Smith has been criticising peer review since at least 2006, has written extensively on research fraud, and in 2016 in a noteworthy lecture at an International Journal of Epidemiology event declared that it was probably time for the journals themselves to cease to exist, so dominated by Big Pharma cash they are, publishing an extremely biased sample of all the research that is performed, with most of the artfully chosen studies being of poor quality. It is clear that the business model of medical publishing actually encourages the proliferation of largely useless research – and outright fraud – that we are subjected to.

At the IHCAN virtual Summit, Prof Richard Feinman addressed these issues as they apply to nutritional science. “What’s wrong is not the mediocre papers, but rather the surprising number of really objectionable papers”, he says. “The medical literature is full of papers bordering on fraud or, at least, guilty of misrepresentation”.

Smith’s latest headline was presaged by “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” – the classic 2005 article in PLoS Medicine by Stanford University’s Prof John Ioannidis, MD, DSc.

And as Smith’s latest broadside hit the media, Dutch scientists released findings from a survey of 64,000 researchers at 22 universities in the Netherlands: 51% reported frequently engaging in “questionable research practices”, while 10% of medical and life-science researchers admitted to outright falsifying and/or fabricating data.

Which brings us, of course, to COVID.

How reliable IS the “science” the world’s instant COVID experts are relying on? Given that medical science stands revealed as mostly fraudulent, biased and poorly done, it becomes clear why Boris “I never said that” Johnson and Joe “you can’t get COVID if you’re vaccinated” Biden a) lie all the time, b) are paranoid about dissenting voices and c) are increasingly resorting to police action to force compliance with their nonsensical diktats. 

Simon Martin
Editor

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