CHERRY-PICKING THE EVIDENCE
IS IT OK TO CHERRY-PICK SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH?
The way it works is simple; BIG PHARMA sees that a study is not progressing the way they hoped it would and get the institutions or universities they are funding to either A; not complete the study, or B; not publish the study. Either way, industry gets to “cherry-pick” what the public learns about their products. Although this problem is absurdly common (we know that only about half of the pharmaceutical industry’s studies are ever published – HERE), there are two examples that immediately come to mind. The first being TAMIFLU; the antiviral medication that was approved by the FDA despite an ability to shorten the normal course of the FLU by approximately 9%, and the second being SSRI ANTIDEPRESSANTS. The problem with not publishing studies on SSRI’s got so bad that angry scientists created the RIAT ACT to expose it. I bring all of this up because of an email I received a couple days ago from someone who actually works in the pharmaceutical industry, the name of which company was not revealed to me (the writer was not American).
You may think of yourself as a scientist warning the public about medical dangers, but the way you admittedly cherry-pick studies is appalling. Your points are made in incredibly biased fashion and your conclusions are unfair not only to the persons who could benefit from the medications you publicly criticize, but to manufacturers of these lifesaving drugs. Because of your propensity to show you don’t know what you are talking about, it would better serve the public if you stuck to your own area of training, cracking backs.
Wow; this person is right about one thing — I freely admit that I cherry-pick the research (HERE are hundreds of examples from my site). In fact, I even carry a “disclaimer” to that effect on my homepage. While it’s true that I am using cherry-picked research to prove my points, there is a distinct difference between what I am doing on my website and what industry is doing. While it certainly might change in the future, I currently don’t sell anything on my site — nothing. And if you look at the link above, you’ll realize that I go out of my way to warn readers that they are looking at cherry-picked conclusions (I always provide the name of the study along with the name of the journal so people can go look it up themselves if they choose).
When industry cherry-picks their results they are not simply trying to make a point, they are trying to make a buck. They are frequently trying to deceive not only the general public, but at least a portion of the scientific community, as well as the watchdog organizations that are SUPPOSED TO PROTECT CITIZENS FROM THIS SORT OF THING. In other words, because industry’s sole purpose for being is to make money, THE RESEARCH THEY PUBLISH MUST BE TAKEN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.
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