scientific research

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...

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 contents within may be dangerous to society. (Credit: Shutterstock) The contents within may be dangerous to society. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Science can make us uncomfortable. Astronomy proved that the Earth goes around the sun, upending centuries of geocentric theology. Physics tells us that our universe will someday come to an end. DNA sequencing can reveal our true ancestry or genetic predispositions to cancer and Alzheimer's disease, forever changing our life's...

Mouse6croppedTo many animal lovers, it may seem like a no-brainer research on animals should be banned. And this is the stance of over one million Europeans who signed a petition that the European Parliament is currently considering. To many animal lovers, it may seem like a no-brainer research on animals should be banned. And this is the stance of over one million Europeans who signed a petition that the European Parliament is currently considering. However, researchers in Britain are rightfully concerned that in the face of such a ban health-related scientific research would grind to a halt. A Wellcome Trust policy advisor...

110807_7006It s hard to figure out what to believe these days. As Drs. Henry Miller (a physician-scientist) and Stan Young (a statistician) point out in their piece on Forbes.com, one day coffee causes cancer and the next it prevents it. Or you ll read that cellphones cause brain tumors, or that everyone should be taking statins. The reason for this confusion, they say, may have a lot to do with current state of science. They go on, Scientists...

For about a century, industry has played an important role in creating new technology and funding scientific research.

Recently, though, the collaboration between science and industry has been threatened by the development of a movement that proposes to end or drastically limit such cooperation on the grounds that it involves unacceptable conflicts of interest.

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FROM THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

For approximately a century, industry has been a powerful motivating force in the creation of new technology and the underwriting of scientific research.

Yet the last two decades have seen the development of a sweeping conflicts of interest movement aimed squarely at curtailing academic/industry biomedical research collaborations and restricting membership on government scientific advisory boards to researchers associated within dustry....