Scientists are undermining our confidence in science

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A complaint just published in the newspaper Science argues that a seminal study on the causes of Alzheimer’s could contain falsified data.

The 2006 report concluded that Alzheimer’s is caused by the accumulation of a certain type of plaque in the brain, a discovery that has since led research into Alzheimer’s treatments. But now, critics say the original authors “appeared to have composed figures by putting together parts of photos from different experiments” questioning their conclusions.

If true, this is a first-rate scientific scandal. As the Science notes the article, the questionable study heavily influenced funding for treatment research, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spending $ 1.6 billion pursuing the plaque hypothesis this fiscal year. Worse still, if the scientific errors in the study were not caught during the peer review due to data manipulation, Alzheimer’s researchers investigating other badly needed funding hypotheses deprived, perhaps delaying the development of effective treatments.

A chronic problem

The falsification of scientific research has been a chronic problem for the industry in recent years. For example, a South Korean researcher committed outright research fraud when in 2004 and again in 2005 he convinced Science – the same publication now exposing the problems with Alzheimer’s plaque research – which had perfected a method for cloning human embryos and created 11 patient-specific embryonic stem cell lines. Despite the peer review, it was all false and eventually the documents were withdrawn. But those reports had a strong political impact, influencing government funding of embryonic versus adult stem cell research and influencing policy debates on this controversial area of ​​biotechnology. (The experiments to create cloned human embryos eventually succeeded in 2013.)

Perhaps the most notorious and deleterious research fraud of recent times was published in The hand, arguing that childhood MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccines can cause autism. Although the document was later withdrawn by The handrepeated follow-up investigations showing the perpetrator allegedly committed blatant research fraud and even the eventual revocation of his medical license, millions of people still believe the claim.

Falsehood, fraud and errors

Of course, not all fake studies are fraudulent or based on manipulated data. As in all human endeavors, scientists sometimes make mistakes. This appears to be the case with long-accepted research showing that clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of serotonin in the brain. But a new and in-depth review of the data has come to the surprising conclusion that “the huge research effort based on the serotonin hypothesis has not produced convincing evidence of a biochemical basis for depression,” which serves as the starting point behind many antidepressant drugs. .

Does that mean antidepressants don’t work? The new study doesn’t say that. But that crucial question will now require – you guessed it – more research. Hopefully the correct answer will come quickly as these drugs can cause suicidal ideation and other potentially serious side effects.

At this point, many scientists will scream that catching research fraud and errors is part of the scientific method, allowing even the most seemingly established scientific discoveries to be questioned – and challenged. This is true, at least in theory. But lately, that security process has been increasingly short-circuited by unscientific ideological or political games at the highest levels of the public health and science sectors.

This article was originally published by The times of the time. Read the rest a News on mental issues.

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