bioethics

In the late 90's, Michael J. Fox starred in a television comedy called Spin City. As its name implies, the job of Fox's character was to "spin" the truth to make his boss (the mayor of New York City) look good.

We've come to expect this sort of behavior from politicians and their sycophants on cable news, but we don't expect it from scientists. Yet, a new paper published in PLoS Biology suggests that some scientists do just that.

Sensationalizing Science

The biggest purveyors of sensationalism are university press offices and the scientifically ignorant dupes in the media who eagerly reprint press releases, sometimes nearly verbatim. Environmentalists and other activists have also perfected the art of spin.

But this paper...

A young man who received a lung transplant four weeks ago following a terrible case of pneumonia that caused his lungs to collapse has died. He is making national headlines because his petition to receive new lungs was initially rejected because he had smoked marijuana.

This will very likely cause outrage, especially since more states are legalizing marijuana. But in a world in which transplantable organs are in short supply, hospitals must make decisions about which patients to prioritize. According to the article, the University of Utah Hospital said:

"Generally speaking, we do not transplant organs in patients with active alcohol...

Because of the replication problems facing biomedical science and psychology, much attention in recent years has focused on scientific integrity. How can scientists ensure that the data they are publishing is accurate and reliable?

A new report that partially addresses that issue has been released by the National Academies. It was reviewed by Physics Today, which said that, among other things, the report "advocates stricter policies for scientific authorship attribution, increased openness in scientific work, [and] the reporting of negative findings." These recommendations are fine, but...

The word "trafficking" does not conjure up pleasant imagery. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, gun trafficking. These are immoral and destructive behaviors. But what about organ trafficking?

According to Catholic News Agency, at the end of a Vatican conference precisely on this topic, participants declared organ trafficking a "crime against humanity." They make a powerful and emotionally persuasive case:

In general, migrants, refugees and the poor are among the most vulnerable populations for organ trafficking, because they may be forced to sell organs if they do not have the cash to pay when soliciting help for...