Science is rife with corruption, incompetence, dishonesty and fabrication–and now, thanks to a frank resignation letter by the US’s top scientific misconduct official we have a better idea why.
David E. Wright, a respected science historian, has just quit his job as director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI; part of the Department of Health and Human Services) and is scathing about his experiences there.
In his resignation letter, he accuses his boss HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh of running an organization which is “secretive, autocratic and unaccountable.”
He writes to Koh:
In one instance, by way of illustration, I urgently needed to fill a vacancy for an ORI division director. I asked the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (your deputy) when I could proceed. She said there was a priority list. I asked where ORI’s request was on that list. She said the list was secret and that we weren’t on the top, but we weren’t on the bottom either. Sixteen months later we still don’t have a division director on board.
His experiences at ORI, he adds, have confirmed all his worst suspicions about the workings of federal bureaucracy.
We spend exorbitant amounts of time in meetings and in generating repetitive and often meaningless data and reports to make our precinct of the bureaucracy look productive. None of this renders the slightest bit of assistance to ORI in handling allegations of misconduct or in promoting the responsible conduct of research. Instead, it sucks away time and resources that we might better use to meet our mission.
Wright’s observations go some way towards explaining why so much of the corruption in US science goes either uninvestigated or unpunished.
One example can be found in this letter from Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA) to the ORI about the case of an AIDS researcher at Iowa State University who faked data to obtain nearly $19 million in NIH grant money. The ORI banned the researcher from receiving grants for three years but has apparently made no attempt to recoup the missing $19 million.
This kind of skullduggery is especially prevalent in the fields of “climate science” and environmentalism because so much government, European Union, and United Nations money has been pumped into these fashionable areas of concern.
At UC Berkeley, a researcher named Tyrone Hayes has built a highly successful career on promoting the “endocrine disruptor” scare–doing enormous harm to the US agricultural industry–despite no other scientist having been able to replicate his research.
Or consider the nonsense widely promulgated about the Costa Rican golden toad–a species whose disappearance alarmist scientists frequently ascribe to “climate change,” despite overwhelming evidence that it perished as a result of a fungus unconnected with “global warming.”
But few branches of science are immune, as this infographic from Clinicalpsychology.net makes clear.
Among its findings:
1 in 3 scientists admits to using questionable research practices
1 in 50 scientists admits to falsifying or fabricating data outright.
71 percent of scientists report that colleagues have used questionable methods
14 percent claim colleagues have falsified data
Among biomedical research trainees at the University of California, San Diego five percent admitted to modifying results and 81 percent said they would fabricate or modify results to win a grant or publish a paper.
And those are just the ones who’ll admit it….