By Jefferey Jaxen
Americans were greeted with the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitting a ‘mistake’ in the pandemic response. Out of the other side of CDC head Walensky’s mouth, she called for a restructuring of the agency. With her at the helm of course.
No more discriminating against the unvaccinated says new CDC guidance. It’s official now.
A full court press is on to rehabilitate an image as White House Covid response coordinator, and Fauci superfan, Dr. Ashish Jha was also trotted out on C-Span to reimagine social distancing – that sciencey thing once keeping businesses closed and sick and dying family members apart from each other:
To many, this admission of failure from the CDC may be their first glimpse into a world in which they were told the science was settled.
Also a world where agencies like the CDC would reflexively double down on bad scientific behavior even when it would behoove them not to. CDC’s new PR angle has grabbed headlines but can they change for the better? The public temperature can be summed up by the title of a recent NY Post opinion piece, Too little, too late: Disband the CDC now
Over the course of the past decade the dominant public health narrative, better known during the Covid era as The Science, has taken a major hit. Dishonored and knocked down a notch by its own arrogance and myopic making.
At best, scientific research and the journals who publish it have the potential to be wayshowers for humanity still in relative infancy of its understanding of both the outer and inner universes of life’s wonders. At its worst, ‘The Science™’ has been used as an authoritarian hammer wielded by human ignorance fighting for power and control in its many forms.
Nearly three years of attempted top-down, authoritarian edicts commanded by The Science™ has left public trust in shambles. Those attempting to add debate or other highly relevant data, facts or research to a dominant narrative had their credibility and names attacked while enjoying a healthy dose of social media censorship.
History suggests that The Science™ has been hijacked – how long it has been this way is debatable.
Former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell published a research article in 2009 titled ‘Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption.’ In the piece Angell states, among other damning claims, the following:
“In view of this control and the conflicts of interest that permeate the enterprise, it is not surprising that industry-sponsored trials published in medical journals consistently favor sponsors’ drugs—largely because negative results are not published, positive results are repeatedly published in slightly different forms, and a positive spin is put on even negative results.”
In 2015 Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet, attended a London symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research. Those in attendance were asked not to take photographs of the slides while those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments remain unquoted. Weeks later Horton published a shocking paper in the Lancet titled ‘What is medicine’s 5 sigma?’ Horton wrote:
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue….We aid and abet the worst behaviors. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals…The apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world.”
Horton’s Lancet didn’t seem to learn lessons as the journal was called out for data issues on a pivotal study, published at a key time during the pandemic, claiming the cheap, widely available drug hydroxychloroquine was unsafe. The move was later called one of the biggest retractions in modern history.
Operating mostly behind-the-scenes, the dysfunctional workings of science have spilled out into the public conscious in a big way.
A once sacred cow – untouchable ‘settled science’ in the industry was that depression’s cause was a brain chemical imbalance problem. The chemical?….Serotonin – and Big Pharma’s decades long answer was a class of chemicals called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
A new analysis of the literature just published in the Journal Molecular Psychiatry, titled The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence looks at the principal relevant areas of research on the still influential serotonin hypothesis of depression.
The researchers write,
“The main areas of serotonin research provide no consistent evidence of there being an association between serotonin and depression, and no support for the hypothesis that depression is caused by lowered serotonin activity or concentrations.
They conclude with this final paragraph in their analysis:
“This review suggests that the huge research effort based on the serotonin hypothesis has not produced convincing evidence of a biochemical basis to depression. This is consistent with research on many other biological markers. We suggest it is time to acknowledge that the serotonin theory of depression is not empirically substantiated.”
At the same time, another bombshell has challenged research underpinning a dominant amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s. The idea that plaques in brain tissue are a primary cause of these illnesses. Red flags were identified when the images from the pivotal 2006 research paper were reexamined by a 37 year old neuroscientist. The findings, writes Science.org, “…imply millions of federal dollars may have been misspent on the research—and much more on related efforts. Some Alzheimer’s experts now suspect Lesné’s studies have misdirected Alzheimer’s research for 16 years.”
Bad science has devastating consequences and it’s not just relegated to the areas of public health and medical research. Climate science is also in the midst of a long unraveling.
A ‘star’ marine ecologist from the University of Delaware has committed misconduct an internal investigation has found.
Marine ecologist Danielle Dixson committed fabrication and falsification in work on fish behavior and coral reefs. Many of her studies appeared to show Earth’s rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can have dramatic effects.
Another blow, beyond the CDC’s recent admission of failure, was just delivered to the U.S. government’s public trust. Again, in the area of climate science reaching all the way to the White House and Biden Administration.
Jane Lubchenco, first deputy director of climate and environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-chair of the White House’s Scientific Integrity Task Force was just barred from work at The National Academy of Sciences for five years.
In her research last year, Lubchenco used old data to overestimate the potential of expanding global marine protected area coverage – think government net-zero emissions-type land grab similar to what’s happening to the farmers in the Netherlands…but in the ocean.
Oh yeah, and one of the co-authors on the paper was her brother-in-law.
How deep of a hit will public trust take as scientific misconduct continues to be exposed? How much of what we’ve been led to believe was wrong?