Dissident AIDS Database

Politico-socio-economicoFundingScientific biasGeneral
Epidemiology Faces its Limits
 Taubes Gary
  According to a researcher from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, "investigators who find an effect get support, and investigators who don't find an effect don't get support. When times are tough it becomes extremely difficult for researchers to be objective". Harvard epidemiologist Alex Walker acknowledges that it only takes a handful of papers before a suspected association "springs into the general public consciousness in a way that does not happen in any other field of scientific endeavor."
  Science, Vol. 269 (14 July 1995), p. 169.1995
The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition
  The probable answer to the question, why HIV-AIDS researchers do not study or fund non-HIV-AIDS theories, lays in the structure of the large, government-sponsored research programs that dominate academic research since World War II. Such programs favour individual investigators who contribute to the establishment a maximum of data and a minimum of controversy. However, if individual researchers move into new directions, that threaten the scientific and commercial investments of the establishment, the establishment can impose various sanctions via the “peer review system”. The most powerful of these are denial of funding and of publication. The peer review system derives its power from the little known practice of governments to deputize their authority to distribute funds for research to committees of “experts”. These experts are academic researchers distinguished by outstanding contributions to the current establishment. They alone review the merits of research applications from their peers, and they have the right to elect each other to review committees. Outwardly, this “peer review system” appears to the unsuspecting government and taxpayer as the equivalent of a jury system – free of all conflicts of interest. But, in view of the many professional and commercial investments in and benefits from their expertise, and even of the rewards from their universities and institutions for the corresponding overheads and partnerships – all legal in the US since president Reagan – “peer reviewers” do not fund applications that challenge their own interests (Duesberg P H 1996 Inventing the AIDS Virus, Washington: Regnery Publishing Inc, Lang S 1998 Challenges, New York: Springer, Zuger A 2001 A molecular offspring, off to join the AIDS wars; New York Times, 20 March, p. D7). Since “peer review” is protected by anonymity, does not allow the applicant personal representation or an independent representative, nor a say or even a veto in the selection of the “jury”, and does not allow an appeal, its powers to defend the orthodoxy are unlimited. The corporate equivalent of academia’s “peer review system” would be to give General Motors and Ford the authority to review and veto all innovations by less established carmakers competing for the consumer. Even the professional journals and the science writers of the public media comply with the interests of government- funded majorities because they depend on their monthly “scientific breakthroughs”, the lucrative advertisements from their companies, and the opinion of their subscribers.
  J. Biosc, Vol. 28 No. 4, June 2003, 383–4122003
AMA Journal Critiques Report Data
  The Journal of the American Medical Association has put aside presenting medical advances this week to turn a critical eye on itself, finding imperfections in the way it and other medical journals report scientific research. JAMA's latest issue [June 5, 2002] says journal studies are sometimes misleading and frequently fail to disclose weaknesses and disagreements among authors, while news releases some journals prepare often don't mention study limitations or industry funding... DeAngelis said problems are most likely to occur in research funded by drug companies, which have a vested interest in findings that make their products look good. Journal editors are concerned that manufacturers sometimes unduly influence how researchers report study results, and even suppress unfavorable findings. Many top journals require researchers to disclose any ties to drug companies, and Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, said editors rely on researchers to be truthful. ``I imagine that from time to time we screw up'' and fail to adequately mention drug company ties, but that is infrequent, Drazen said. One JAMA report found that medical journal studies on new treatments often use only the most favorable statistic in reporting results, said author Dr. Jim Nuovo of the University of California at Davis. His study reviewed 359 studies published between 1989 and 1998 in JAMA, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and Annals of Internal Medicine. Only 26 studies reported straightforward statistics that clearly assessed the effect on patients. Most reported only the ``relative risk reduction'' linked to a specific treatment, which is the percentage difference between drug-treated patients and those in a placebo group. That figure is more misleading than the ``absolute risk reduction,'' which measures the actual difference between the treatment results compared with the placebo group, Nuovo said. For example, if 5.1 percent of placebo-treated patients had heart attacks compared with 3.7 percent of drug patients, the absolute risk reduction in the drug group would be 1.4 percent. But researchers could use the relative risk reduction to claim that the drug lowers the risk of a heart attack 27 percent - which sounds a lot more impressive. In another report, researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt., examined 127 news releases from seven journals: JAMA, The Lancet, Pediatrics, BMJ, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Circulation and Annals of Internal Medicine. Few noted study limitations or drug company funding, said the authors, Drs. Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz. Releases were generally prepared by press officers, and the authors said better editorial oversight could improve the process. In a third JAMA report, Dr. Richard Horton, The Lancet's editor, analyzed 10 research articles published in his journal in 2000 and found that some authors appeared to have censored critical comments from their co-authors. Disagreements among authors about a study's conclusions occurred frequently but often were not mentioned in the articles, he said. Reforming the peer review process could address some problems, said Fiona Godlee of BioMed Central, an online medical journal publisher that asks peer reviewers to identify themselves in their reports. Most print medical journals allow peer reviewers to remain anonymous. In another JAMA report, Godlee said requiring open review would make reviewers more accountable and might reveal any conflicts of interest.
  The Associated Press1