Decrying “Wishful Science” on NPR(!)

Guest essay by Dr. Patrick Michaels |

First, a disclaimer. I don’t listen to NPR. “State radio” bugs me. But I have friends who do, and I was bowled over when one sent me a seemingly innocuous story about the search for a pharmaceutical treatment for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [ALS], the horrific ailment also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.I knew something big was about to happen when correspondent Richard Harris led off with this zinger:

There’s a funding crunch for biomedical research in the United States—and it’s not just causing pain for scientists and universities.  It’s also creating incentives for researchers to cut corners—and that’s affecting people who are seriously ill.

Predictably, NPR, itself a federally (and privately) funded creature, said the problem was a lack of funding, even titling the piece, “Patients Vulnerable When Cash-Strapped Scientists Cut Corners.”

Allow NPR its sins, because what’s in the article is one key to a very disturbing trend, not just in biomedical science, but in “most disciplines and countries.” It seems that negative results are systematically disappearing from science. Those words appear in the title of a blockbuster 2012 article by University of Montreal’s Daniele Fanelli, more completely, “Negative Results are Disappearing from Most Disciplines and Countries.”

Memo to NPR:  Scientists  are always “cash-strapped.” Just ask one. The reason is very simple, and can be illustrated by my area, climate science.

There are actually very few people formally trained at the doctoral level in this field (yours truly being one of them).  One reason was that, prior to the specter of anthropogenerated climate change, there wasn’t very much money from the federal government. It was about a $50 million a year operation, if that much. We didn’t have enough research dough.

Now the federal outlay is $2.3 billion. Guess what: we’re all climate scientists now. So ecologists, plant biologists, and even psychologists hitched their wagons to this gravy train. Today’s shocker: we don’t have enough research dough.

What Harris found out about ALS really does apply in a Fanelli-like fashion. It seems that drugs that work fine on mice and rats flop miserably when tested on humans. It turns out that the animal studies were all pretty shoddy.

Story Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explained why.  According to NPR, “There is no single answer, she says, but part of the explanation relates to a growing issue in biomedical science: the mad scramble for scarce research dollars.”  She went on: “The field has become hypercompetitive,” and NPR added, “Many excellent grant proposals get turned down, simply because there’s not enough money to go around. So Landis says scientists are tempted to oversell weak results.”

“Getting a grant requires that you have an exciting story to tell, that you have preliminary data and you have published”, she says. “In the rush, to be perfectly honest, to get a wonderful story out on the street in a journal, and preferably with some publicity to match, scientists can cut corners.”

According to a research paper published earlier this year, corner-cutting turned out to be the rule, rather than the exception, in animal studies of ALS.

Stefano Bertuzzi, the executive director of the American Society for Cell Biology, says that’s because there is little incentive for scientists to take the time to go back and verify results from other labs;

“You want to be the first one to show something”, he says—not the one to verify or dispute a finding, “because you won’t get a big prize for that.”

Landis noted that “ALS is not the only example of this type of wishful science [emphasis added].”  She found similar problems with other drugs for other diseases.

It’s too bad that NPR didn’t then go to Montreal’s Fanelli, because they would have found that similar problems are infecting science everywhere, which is why Cato now has a Center for the Study of Science.

Coming up: I’ll be posting soon on what this does to science itself.  Teaser: if there’s little incentive to publish negative results, whatever reigning paradigm is operating in a given field will be very resistant to change. As the Center for the Study of Science’s Richard Lindzen has observed, there has been a remarkable lack of paradigm substitution in overall science as research budgets ballooned. Ironically, the more we spend on science, the more science can be harmed.


 

Global Science Report is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science, where we highlight one or two important new items in the scientific literature or the popular media. For broader and more technical perspectives, consult our monthly “Current Wisdom.”

 

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130 thoughts on “Decrying “Wishful Science” on NPR(!)

  1. “Getting a grant requires that you have an exciting story to tell, that you have preliminary data and you have published”, she says. “In the rush, to be perfectly honest, to get a wonderful story out on the street in a journal, and preferably with some publicity to match, scientists can cut corners.”
    Yes, Pons & Fleishmann’s approach to cold fusion comes to mind, and we know how that turned out.

    • Curiously, the folks who claimed to have debunked their results didn’t use their experimental setup or their methodology, as the ink was barely dry on the press releases. They cobbled together their own lashups. But somehow, their failure to replicate was still valid. Go figure. /sarc

      • If Pons & Fleishmann had promptly fallen down dead from radiation poisoning their claim would be credible. But they didn’t observe the physics they claimed because they didn’t even get sick. No replication required.

      • Absolutely – the “failure to replicate” at MIT was through manipulating data that confirmed the effect.
        The work of Fleischmann and Pons was a true paradigm shift. It threatened huge budgets for hot fusion research. The established recipients of funding got themselves organised to eliminate this threat to their research. And they were incredibly successful. Instead of a new and extremely exciting field of science opening up, it was rubbished. 25 years later there are a few brave souls still in the field, and there is now no reasonable doubt that a nuclear reaction, as yet not properly understood, can take place at low temperature, without harmful radiation. However, the field is still off-limits in established science.
        The main argument used against cold fusion was that it is theoretically impossible – if D-D fusion occurs there must be neutrons. Experiments that showed excess heat commensurate with a nuclear reaction were ignored in favour of theory. Does that ring any bells with climate science? It seems in big-government-funded science, theory has to trump data in order to keep the show on the road.

      • @drjohngalan
        You are being unfair to the physics community at that time. I lived through it and there was not one single physicist I knew in my center who was not excited and if he/she had in the lab some possibility of experimenting , tried it. From solid state physicists to nuclear and particle physicists.
        The experiments were a) not reproducible and b) the energies were of the order of chemical energies, i.e. the palladium releasing energy stored in the solid state lattice and given up in the setup. At least that was what deflated the bubble for most of us at the time.
        That said there are still physicists pursuing what is now called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions , there are even commercial applications, http://coldfusion3.com/blog/e-cat-owner%e2%80%99s-connections-to-genorth-carolina-company-revealed , with catalyst assisted fusion, which have not panned out. If the claims hold out commercially that will be proof enough.

      • @anna v
        I was merely agreeing with D.J. Hawkins.
        Understanding the enormity of the work they were doing, Fleischmann and Pons conducted experiments for five years prior to the infamous announcement in 1989. They funded this research from their own pockets. Within a few months the field had been very successfully rubbished. To quote D.J. Hawkins above, those “who claimed to have debunked their results didn’t use their experimental setup or their methodology, as the ink was barely dry on the press releases. They cobbled together their own lash-ups. But somehow, their failure to replicate was still valid.” However, replications were achieved by others at the time, demonstrating excess heat way beyond any chemical explanation and tritium production.
        I knew Martin Fleischmann, and the ad hom attacks and accusations made against him were nothing short of disgraceful. To me, this also has a familiar ring to it, when compared to behaviours in the climate science field: when large grants are at stake, anything goes.

    • Pons & Fleishmann’s “approach” ? Their approach was to publish a paper with their results but their university insisted they make this big press conference – and we all know how that turned out.

    • Yet in the end real science does win out. It is a shame it has taken this long and that so many frauds still haunt the field of LENR but MIT’s Peter Hagelstein & Mitchell Swartz have put on yearly conferences recently going over both theory and showing it working.
      What is very concerning is the science community closing their minds. Peter Hagelstein gives a good breakdown of the various roads it has followed here.

    • Yep. There is present a global effort to research the phenomenon. They just don’t call it “cold fusion” anymore. A web search will reveal active research efforts in Italy, Japan and even the US (funded by military money).
      The problem was never that Pons and Fleischman had mistakenly identified some experimental result as anomalous, the excess heat alone was adequate to raise the odd alert eyebrow. The real problem was that UoUtah rushed out the door to the press with what was a pretty unguarded speculation about what CAUSED the anomalous heat. There were and still are huge streams of money going to fusion research. Pons and Fleischman found an unexpected phenmenon in a table-top set up that cost a few hundred dollars at most. Worse, they were chemists. No nuclear physicist researching fusion could possibly sit still for that. It not only threatened their funding, it actually threatened their field!
      You would think a new physical phenomenon in science would be a point of great interest, but quite reverse. Instead of asking that they not speculate about the excess heat as a result of fusion, the interested parties had a field day doing bad science and experiencing confirmation bias themselves. The Pons and Fleischman effect has now been replicated hundreds or possibly even thousands of times. The results are secure enough that various national research agencies in several nations who really want oil independence and a power supply that is reliable and costs less than a reactor have been pushing the effort quietly for two decades now. However because of the “gored ox” syndrome and the scientific clique syndrome there is very little “peer reviewed” publication. If the subject is too clear, the paper is automatically rejected. I suspect this sounds familiar to most skeptics of AGW.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion
        “In the late 1920s, two Austrian born scientists, Friedrich Paneth and Kurt Peters, originally reported the transformation of hydrogen into helium by spontaneous nuclear catalysis when hydrogen was absorbed by finely divided palladium at room temperature.”
        Paneth was forced to retract and claim measurement error; as Germany under the Versailles treaty was barred from importing Helium or developing airplanes. Allied didn’t want German airships (that’s why the Germans had to use hydrogen in the Zeppelins, which made them obviously harmless in any military setting).
        Paneth’s discovery would have enabled Germany to circumvent the import ban; so political pressure was exerted to suppress the discovery.

  2. I suspect a part of the problem is that universities are churning out graduates far in excess of need. More competition doesn’t mean better Science. In fact, there may be a sort of Gresham’s Law at work: incompetent scientists who are unable to get funding without cutting corners drive out those who refuse to do so. Science is in deeper trouble than anyone realizes.

    • Well said Jorgekafkazar. The Academia Bubble has many many unintended consequences from cut-rate research to ballooning debt loads underwritten by taxpayers. The whole bloated system is a malinvestment that needs to unwind and shift into productive labour. Without the free money gaurantee by the state, the real costs of academia will eventually drive out participation.

  3. I believe Fanelli is a current colleague and co-author of Stanford’s John Ioannidis, who wrote a major article on the lack of replicable research in the medical literature. Ioannidis work, I believe, has been mentioned here previously. The Economist published a pretty good summary article of the issues. The intellectual integrity of academics apparently is not much different to other professions.
    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble

      • OK, I didn’t read all of those two papers, so I may have missed it, but — there is another possible explanation, which we have seen repeatedly in climate science : if a person or organisation does not like the result of a paper, they set out to disprove or discredit it. In other words, the paper subsequently found to be wrong may in fact have been honest and correct, while the later study “disproving” or discrediting it may have been biased and wrong.

  4. Start ’em young. Understanding of the scientific method, critical thinking, morality, honesty all seem to be collapsing as the schools continue the march towards complete control of curriculum from Wash DC, and liberalism, and relativistic morality. We’ve got a whole generation of brain-washed kids that are now in the “making a difference in the world” phase of their lives and think they are scientists. It seems to be past critical mass now. I fear things will get worse before they get better. Honesty in science? Please! Science is what we need it to be to bring about the change we want, right liberals? The ends justify the means for most.
    Yes there are rare exceptions.
    Just read a paper on ozone science and the ozone hole fraud. Liberals turned scientists seemed to believe in the linearity of ozone concentration in the atmosphere and that’s what the models became. The models drove the discussion. Reality showed absolute disagreement, but damn the data, full speed ahead. Soon life protecting freon (refrigeration of food) is soon after banned and likely millions die as a result. Does any of this sound familiar? “Deja vu all over again” – Yogi Berra
    Bruce

    • The rich and powerful in this country made it on the backs of the poor. They didn’t build it. They are dishonest and greedy. They lied, cheated and stole to get what they have.
      If you were brainwashed into believing this, how would you go about becoming wealthy? If you’re told that successful people are only successful through cheating others, would that make you more likely to cheat?
      .

  5. Whenever a theory/hypothesis is put forward , the arguments for the hypothesis can be valid or invalid . But it’s more complex than that: It is important to know, that the arguments put forward may be valid but still only leading up to a scientifically untrue conclusion.
    In terms of conclusions drawn from scientific illogical use of argument, the illogical usage hardly ever shines directly into the eyes of reader a “study”. The illogical usage can be there no matter which conclusions drawn. Each performed hypothesis / assumption is based on the subjective interpretation of reality hypothesis researchers / writers. As Gerhard Vollmer wrote:
    ”Die wichtigkeit oder Bedeutung eines Problems haengt immer auch von subjektiven, bewer tendens Elementen ab” Vollmer Gerhard, Wissenschaftstheorie in Einsatz, Stuttgart 1993

    • It is called analytical skills. There are many scientists/researchers who are good at gathering data but analyze the data incorrectly. Unfortunately there seems to be a growing number who graduate from Uni and cannot even gather the data.
      Sometimes incorrect analysis is the result of not enough data even though the researchers will argue black and blue that they have enough. Case in point is the data for climate research. We really need hard data going back 1000 years. Even the CET is not enough to draw conclusions.
      Analytical skills are important and not many people actually have them.

      • True in so many diciplines. In legislation, listen to congressional hearings on CPSAN on any subject and you’ll hear coherent analysis replaced with arguments on whose stomach should be fed the most. Apparently this is becoming more and more the case with science as well.
        The steps I see in analysis are:
        1. Gather Data.
        2. Organize/catergorize data
        3. Define relationships in the data.
        4. Determine a working system or conclusion.
        Climate science I think is a gross example in that it can’t even settle on Step 1 and then skips to Step 4.

  6. It seems that negative results are systematically disappearing from science.
    This is a natural outcome in a world where ‘self esteem’ is lauded but self respect is derided.
    An activist ‘scientist’ that subscribes to the motto “One Fudged Data Table Is Worth A Thousand Weasel Words” and a $10M grant….. may have high ‘self esteem’ for his dubious financial success. An honest scientist is constrained by his self respect, which means he will report the data honestly when no one is watching, even if it means a set back to his career.

  7. Given current American culture where we don’t keep score and everybody gets “attendance medals”, why should scientists have to have a good idea or favorable test results to get funded?
    Really – requiring actual good ideas and credible test results – are you sure you want to go down that narrow road?What comes next? Economists and psychologists won’t be allowed to do atmospheric physics?
    What’s important is people feel good about participating in the process – regardless of the outcome.
    I’d say “/sarc”, but this is exactly what we’ve been teaching our children for about 40 years; what should we expect?

  8. ALS in many patients is genetically determined, unfortunately. There are of course a significant percentage that is sporadic due to random mutations that depend on genetic background. Recently Science Magazine had a research article on dipeptide toxicity in a intron repeat expansion in an open reading frame protein of unknown function that confers neurotoxicity:
    The C9orf72 GGGGCC Repeat Is Translated into Aggregating Dipeptide-Repeat Proteins in FTLD/ALS
    Published Online February 7 2013
    Science 15 March 2013:
    Vol. 339 no. 6125 pp. 1335-1338
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1232927.
    This IS good solid research. The kind that can move understanding forward in the field. The kind we must keep funding.
    However, I have had the coffee-hour debate with many Liberal biomedical researchers on funding groups like this and their Progressive ideology versus the coming reality. They whole-heartedly support Progressive ideals that prevent any fixes or significant reforms to the 3 Big US federal government entitlement programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and SS. These 3 big programs are consuming ever larger parts of the US federal budget as the years go on, and by 2032 will be so large, nothing else will be able to be funded except debt service. These 3 are each 200 lb gorillas growing soon into 800 lb gorillas. Their appetite for money will be so voracious, that all other discretionary spending, like biomedical research, will become an afterthought. Biomedical research and all the the other discretionary programs will be fighting over crumbs that fall on the floor from the Big 3 Gorillas with their insatiable appetite for ever more tax revenue.
    The Progressive are in utter denial. They believe that the progressive agenda can be maintain on social welfare programs, yet still they demand the US government also generously fund their grants.
    I finally came to the conclusion that true hard-core Progressives, even many supposedly intelligent PhD-holding academics, are delusional in their understanding of simple economics and finite resources. They want it all.
    I see many of them as Dr Zachary Smith’s (the Lost in Space doctor who had no morals, liked little boys, an arrogant superiority complex, and would sell-out his only friends for a promise from an alien (i.e. easily duped).

    • At 9:59 PM on 16 September, Joel O’Bryan had concluding his slagging of “true hard-core Progressives” with:

      I see many of them as Dr Zachary Smith’s (the Lost in Space doctor who had no morals, liked little boys, an arrogant superiority complex, and would sell-out his only friends for a promise from an alien (i.e. easily duped).

      With all due deference to the character of Dr. Smith (which was to all intents and purposes created entirely by actor Jonathan Harris), it wasn’t so much that he “liked little boys” but that the ‘tween genius kid Will Robinson (portrayed by actor Billy Mumy) – the one and only boy in the crew – sought Dr. Smith’s company because everybody else aboard the Jupiter 2 obviously thought the little nerd was insufferable and strove to sideline and ignore him.

    • I would add that these same people that you so eloquently describe are the ones setting up graduate school programs in sustainability in Unversities all over the Western world. Some of these are the “School of Sustainability” (Arizona State) or “School of Global Environmental Sustainability” (Colorado State) or “Sustainability and Environmental Management Graduate Program” (Harvard). Meanwhile, these leftists, socialists and Progressives are incapable of voting to balance a national budget or adequately fund a public employee retirement system. Irony in such quantity as to make one weep.

  9. Bad results get buried….regardless of what discipline you are looking at. Numbers are inflated when it leads to good results, and also deflated when it leads to good results.
    When the numbers are just plain bad, bury it and move on.
    I deal with this on a weekly basis when looking at energy conservation projects in buildings.
    It is depressing…

  10. The talk about disappearing negative results reminds me of an example…
    In 2006, Church and White published, A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise.” It got huge press, and to this day it is still frequently cited as proof that man-made global warming is causing accelerated sea-level rise.
    However, their reported error bar for the amount of acceleration they found for the 20th century as a whole went all the way down to zero, and one detail that their paper didn’t mention was that all of the acceleration they found was prior to 1925 — which means it was almost certainly unconnected to anthropogenic GHG emissions.
    In 2009, Church and White posted a new data set on their web site, but, mysteriously, published no paper about it. I wondered about that, so I reproduced their 2006 calculations using their 2009 data.
    Guess what? All the 20th century acceleration was gone.
    I shared my results with Drs. Church & White, and on June 18, 2010, Dr. Church cordially replied, confirming my analysis: “For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”
    You can see why they didn’t publish a paper about their 2009 results. If they would have published such a paper, the title would have had to have been something like, “Oops, never mind: No 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise after all.”
    BTW, before someone asks, I did publish my results:
    doi:10.1007/s11069-012-0159-8

    • Dave:
      Excellent job at critiquing better funded researchers and getting the results into the literature. It is also an excellent example of the issues raised by Michaels, Fanelli and Ioannidis. Surely intellectual integrity should require Dr. Church to publish an update and clarification to the earlier paper, if not a correction.

    • Excellent work getting this comment published.
      This is esentially the same as the results from the most recent Jevrejava paper which was discussed in detail here a little time ago.
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/20/new-study-finds-sea-levels-rising-only-7-in-per-century-with-no-acceleration/
      jevrejeva 2014 fig.8 showing their own results compared to Church and White.
      http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=945
      However, the authors similarly chose to hightlight the “acceleration” in the abstract with no mention of the total absense of acceleration over the last century.
      “We calculate an acceleration of 0.02 ± 0.01 mm·yr− 2 in global sea level (1807–2009). In comparison the steric component of sea level shows an acceleration of 0.006 mm·yr− 2 and mass loss of glaciers accelerates at 0.003 mm·yr− 2 over 200 year long time series.”
      That inconvienient detail is buried in the text, near the end of the paper.
      This what the main article here is about, The need to ‘sex up’ the results to get attention, rather than reporting the facts.

      • Greg Goodman quoted Jevrejeva writing, “… over 200 year long time series.”
        Yes, the key part is the length: 200 years. They find acceleration over that time span because some (though not all) of the best long-term tide gauges saw a modest acceleration in rate of sea-level rise in the late 1800s and/or early 1900s, roughly coincident with the end of the LIA.
        If human GHG emissions were affecting sea-level rise, you’d expect to see acceleration starting around the 1940s, since that’s when the big anthropogenic rise in CO2 levels commenced. But that hasn’t happened.
        Church & White 2006, 2009 (data but no paper), and 2011 all used different sets of tide gauges. C&W’s 2006 and 2009 data both showed post-1925 deceleration in sea-level rise. C&W’s 2011 data actually showed a very tiny (statistically insignificant) post-1925 acceleration for that set of tide-gauges, but if projected out to 2080 it would increase sea-level by less than an additional inch, compared to a linear projection. That increase is much smaller in magnitude than the reduction in sea-level rise projected from the 2006 and 2009 data, as compared to the linear trend.
        BTW, the code and data to do those calculations and create those graphs are all on my server, along with the article preprint. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.

    • DaveBurton, thanks for the links …
      the original paper was cited 366 times, according to the Wiley page …
      any idea how much citations you got ?

    • Church & White 2011 finally included a simple average of tide gauges plot in a spaghetti graph of various virtual sea level plots, extracted here with an added trendline, showing no human influence:
      http://i51.tinypic.com/28tkoix.jpg
      I think this is the most important plot in the whole debate, for it busts alarmist headlines, and also reveals [no] extra heat hiding in the oceans causing extra thermal expansion.

    • Why is the Aviso version of the satellite altimeter trend radically different in the last few years from the version you published?

      • {Sorry for the delayed response, Billy, I forgot to click “Post Comment.” -DB}
        Billy Liar asked, “Why is the Aviso version of the satellite altimeter trend radically different in the last few years from the version you published?”
        There are four reasons:
        1. I changed the color of Aviso’s light yellow Envisat graph to orange, so that it would be visible. (It appears to me that they graphed it with a nearly-invisible color because it showed a very low rate of sea-level rise.)
        Here it is as I downloaded it from their site, so you can see how they colored it:
        http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/jnathaz1/MSL_Serie_ALL_Global_IB_RWT_NoGIA_Adjust.bak01.png
        The Wayback Machine has a similar version from a few months earlier:
        http://wayback.archive.org/web/20111015071934/http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/fileadmin/images/news/indic/msl/MSL_Serie_ALL_Global_IB_RWT_NoGIA_Adjust.png
        Here it is with the light yellow Envisat graph changed to orange (the version I used):
        http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/jnathaz1/MSL_Serie_ALL_Global_IB_RWT_NoGIA_Adjust.png
        (Note that, in addition to graphing the Envisat data in light yellow, Aviso also started the graph way above the baseline, to obfuscate the fact that it measured much less sea-level rise than the earlier Tpoex/Poseidon & ERS2 satellites had.)
        2. The 2010-2011 sea-level decline at the end of my copy of Aviso’s graph subsequently proved to mostly be a transient fluctuation. Subsequently, sea-level recovered to close to the linear trend line. (AFAIK, the cause for that fluctuation is not fully understood, but I understand that part of the reason is thought to have been heavy rains in Australia, which temporarily sequestered quite a bit of water on land.)
        3. Aviso retroactively “corrected” the Envisat data. Their changes tripled the rate of sea-level rise that it had measured over the preceding decade; compare the before and after versions. (That’s one of the reasons I don’t trust the satellite sea-level measurements: even if the correction was correct, it stands to reason that if it took a decade to discover an error that big, there’s a good chance that other major errors remain uncorrected.)
        4. The default Aviso graph parameters add a bogus 0.3 mm/yr GIA “adjustment” based on Peltier’s estimate of how much sea-level should be falling due to hypothesized post-glacial sinking of the ocean floor. That’s useful for some purposes, but the sum is not sea-level. So I used the version without that adjustment.
        Here’s Aviso’s current version, without the GIA “adjustment.” Of course it extends a bit longer, but note the dramatic change in the light yellow graph of the Envisat data, compared to the earlier versions:
        http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/fileadmin/images/news/indic/msl/MSL_Serie_ALL_Global_IB_RWT_NoGIA_Adjust.png

  11. Let’s cue up Ike Eisenhower’s farewell address. Not the “military-industrial complex” part that is often cited, but the part where he warns against the hordes of government-funded, computer-based scientists growing increasingly dependent on government funding.
    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
    “In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
    “Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
    “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”
    The Old General was spot-on in assessing the danger of government-funded research programs that inevitably support government-vested programs.
    We now face a multi-billion-dollar annual behemoth of government-funded echo-chamber “climate science” that works hand-in-glove with multi-billion-dollar annual “non-profit” organizations and multi-billion-dollar annual media organizations whose sole purpose is to destroy capitalism and foster socialist/communist institutions.
    Today’s environmentalists are the ultimate “watermelons” – green on the outside and red on the inside. The Communists have merely changed agendas, but their goals are the same as in the 60’s – “We will bury you”

    • oh..will steffen again..
      mans sooo embarrassing.
      crap like this..
      “If you look at some of our most vulnerable areas, and the Sydney region is one of those, you would say toward the end of this century that a one-in-100-year flood is going to be happening every few days,” he said.”
      really? scuse me laughing

  12. The best way to solve this problem is to get the Federal government completely out of the scientific research funding game and make funding all 100% private sector with individual States being allowed to fund whatever they please as granted in amendments 9 & 10.
    Federal funding of military R&D would be the exception, as running a military is one of the few powers granted to the Federal government…
    In addition, the FDA should be shut down and insurance companies would set pragmatic standards for new drug approval protocols.
    It now costs about $1 BILLION per drug to get through the FDA approval process… Last year, only 27 new drugs were approved by the FDA… If the private sector regulated drug approval, there would be 100’s of new drugs approved each year at a fraction of the cost and many drugs for diseases that afflict few patients would be developed since the developmental costs would be greatly reduced.
    Yes, under private sector regulation, there will be the occasional mistake, but that’s the cost of progress.. We still get deaths from approved drugs despite pharmaceutical companies spending $1 BILLION to get FDA approval.

      • With regard to the observation that “It now costs about $1 BILLION per drug to get through the FDA approval process…,” at 10:51 PM on 16 September, mpainter had posted:

        I question your $ billion claim. This reads like drug industry propaganda.

        Would that your suspicion correlated with reality. For every new drug application (NDA) approved by the FDA’s Office of New Drugs (OND), a manufacturer sustains an average cost in the vicinity of one billion dollars.
        Add on the costs associated with gaining marketing approval in jurisdictions other than that of our republic’s federal government. The greater part of the expense is imposed by the requirement to prove efficacy, particularly efficacy comparative to existing standard of care in pharmacotherapy.

      • I still question that figure. You rely on industry sources and the industry would love to have a free hand in introducing new products- in other words, they would love it if the FDA disappeared. I will not be convinced as long as you use industry figures. I should say that the drug industry does not impress me as trustworthy. You need to do better than repeat unsubstantiated claims.

      • Continuing to express his disbelief in SAMURAI‘s observation that “It now costs about $1 BILLION per drug to get through the FDA approval process…” but obviously not bothering to look into the matter himself at 10:25 AM on 17 September, mpainter writes:

        I still question that figure. You rely on industry sources and the industry would love to have a free hand in introducing new products- in other words, they would love it if the FDA disappeared. I will not be convinced as long as you use industry figures. I should say that the drug industry does not impress me as trustworthy. You need to do better than repeat unsubstantiated claims.

        Being a physician, I myself “would love it if the FDA disappeared,” though the established actors in the pharma industry would be devastated, inasmuch as the FDA is part of the government mechanism which preserves a cartel market for these large-cap corporations. They’d very much like the OND meatgrinder to run a bit more to the manufacturers’ purposes, but they assuredly want it to continue running.
        What mpainter fails to understand is that the entities who make up the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) are all limited liability corporations which seek investment capital in the financial markets regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As such, they must comply with SEC regulations in the publication of annual reports and quarterly Form 10-Q filings, all of which become matters of public record.
        As such, not only does such reporting satisfy the officers of the Commission but they also inform investors about the financial health of these companies, including ongoing operations, planning, expectations, and so forth.
        While it must be admitted that corporate officers who would “cook the books” on key aspects of clinical trials might well perjure themselves in their companies’ SEC reporting, there’s really nothing else to rely upon as the best possible source of information on the costs associated with the average successful New Drug Application (NDA) submission.
        If mpainter knows of (or suspects) a better source of information on this subject, he’s invited to cough it up.
        [Meanwhile, I must apologize for delays in my posts. Not my fault. Mr. Watts and his cadre of moderators have me on “permanent double secret probation” for the sin of having jumped with too much vigorous eloquence on the climate catastrophists and other leftard “Liberal” fascist blithering idiots who misrepresent themselves as sane and honest disputants in this forum. I view the process as akin to debridement, in which you cut – literally – until the blood flows. Mr. Watts et alia apparently don’t like even the metaphorical sight of such sanguine results.]
        [And we read all of the double-secret moderated list postings first! (It’s the triple secret unmoderated ones that take a few minutes … .mod]

    • I would not trifle with Human health-rather, I would replace the Federal FDA with State versions (initially block-granted, but soon weaned), with a mandate when a drug clears a given supermajority of States (such as 3/5), ALL States must accept the drug.

      • Hmmm…no – this would lead to big-time smuggling (just like cigaret taxes). Say your job keeps you in State A that does not allow a drug that will save your child’s life. However, State B allows the drug. Your choices are (1) let child die; (2) move to State B without a job and hope things work out; (3) smuggle drug from State B to State A.

    • Samuari,
      I agree completely. As soon as you get taxpayer funded science, it becomes political and stops being scientific. Stop all taxpayer funding of all science. Private individuals will fund science that is useful and that works. Everything else is intellectual masturbation …

  13. Remember, Ike’s penultimate job was as president of Columbia University–soon after Vannevar Bush, at the behest of FDR, provided the book (similar in effect to IPCC reports) that institutionalized the federalization of science. Ike saw it firsthand, which is why he wrote so eloquently about it.

  14. Another example of why I reach for my revolver each time someone utters the phrase, “science-based medicine.”
    Then there is the appeal to authority “Doctors are highly trained” and the appeal to consensus “They wouldn’t give you this medicine if there was something better.” Funny how the ones who call themselves rationalists are the ones being taken for a ride – and persuading you to join them.
    Some of you already know, but some of you would be more than shocked at what is behind the HIV-AIDS curtain.
    And this article shows, once again, that you don’t need to show conspiracy to show corruption. Conspiracy is not the only method that aligns so many people at so many levels in the wrong direction. Sometimes people don’t even know they’re doing it.

    • At 10:29 PM on 16 September, Karim D. Ghantous has posted:

      Another example of why I reach for my revolver each time someone utters the phrase, “science-based medicine.”

      Actually, the term you seem to be looking for is “evidence-based medicine” (EBM).
      One of the problems with EBM is its high valuation of information gathered in reviews of randomized blinded clinical trials to produce guidelines structuring diagnosis and treatment, but its advocates – perhaps necessarily? – avoid treating with the influences of corruption on the design, conduct, and reporting of those trials.
      EBM assumes that the research upon which it depends had been devised impartially and honestly, and as many of us in clinical medicine have learned over the decades, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
      For my own part, I’ve found that Primum non nocere isn’t enough. There’s also need for more than a little bit of “Доверяй, но проверяй”

  15. The chase for funding affects all branches of science and, ultimately, distorts results. This classic article, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False,” is an excellent discourse that applies to climate science as much to medicine.

    In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance.

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020124

  16. C.S. Lewis pointed out something he saw with his literature students. When they faced a problem that would take work to research, the cleverer they were, the more easily and the more likely they were to come up with some clever, interesting theory, but not do the work to verify it.
    Call that lazy science or call that undisciplined science, the point is that if you don’t have the discipline to check all those great ideas, you will usually end up out in left field.

  17. It’s too bad that NPR didn’t then go to Montreal’s Fanelli, because they would have found that similar problems are infecting science everywhere, which is why Cato now has a Center for the Study of Science.

    Of course, Dr. Michaels, you realize – as should everybody else reading here – that the transnational progressives and other partisans on the political left will screech and scream that the Cato Institute has such a Center only because it suits the nefarious purposes of the Kochtopus for Cato to produce “anti-science” propaganda.
    Is it even necessary to insert a “[/sarc]” tag here?

  18. This is one reason climate science has Mike Mann. He was admitted to Yale’s theoretical nuclear physics program but switched into climate research when he realized the future of physics research funding looked bleak. After attending a climate talk he realized the much larger funding potential of a growing field.
    My own advisor looked for creative ways to get funding for his research. He tapped everything from the Air Force to biologic research (he had nothing to do with biologic at all) to fund his research. At the end of the year he would get very creative in pretending he used the money the way he promised in his proposals. In academia the truth is very flexible and resilient; it can be twisted and contorted to fit a lot of needs.

  19. Sometimes negative results still get out, but they are camouflaged as positive results – for example, this hilariously regretful announcement of good news from German Biologists studying the effect of ocean acidification on algae.
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/09/14/climatechange-oceans-idUKL5N0RD40520140914
    To their horror, they discovered that when they bubbled CO2 through seawater and warmed it up, the algae responded by growing more vigorously.
    Anyone with a swimming pool could have predicted this result – in Summer time you have to get pretty handy with the chlorine, or else your pool very quickly turns into green slime. But to be fair, the people who produced the study are German biologists, so their swimming pools probably never get that warm.

    • They most likely don’t have swimming pools other than at the local sports and aquatic centre … they’d have no practical knowledge of swimming pool maintenance just like ‘climate scientists’ have little practical experience with weather.

  20. There is so much money pumped into this, the research budget part that is not spent on propaganda will be eventually be transformed into truth showing that increased trace gas CO2 emissions cause no significant change on climate. A bit more worried about eventual reverse and global cooling scare like in 70s coming within ten years given natural oscillation in ocean currents, solar activity and cycle 24 with less radiation hitting earth, precession for northern hemisphere over long haul, lower earth magnetic field, the truth will come out soon for manipulated temperature government records which is despite still statistically insignificant. Joke – ice age returning started 800 or 10,000 or 2,000 years ago, unfortunately in 100 years they will be spending/wasting huge amounts to reduce trying to directly manipulate atmosphere against natural trends as opposed to now where it is a political issue with propaganda and manipulate science most people do not care about as opposed to pure science issue. Truth is coming with temp record (RSS satellite as opposed to manipulated/”adjusted” land surface), can not keep adhering to a spurious correlation on CO2, i think organic food consumption as an explanatory variable may be more significant than CO2 emissions.

  21. “We’re all climate scientists now”
    True. You even have psychiatrists and Alzheimer’s doctors, who while proclaiming “The Myth of Alzheimers” insist on believing in the global warming nonsense and “preparing” their patients for climate change quality of life issues. “Everybody’s got to get into the act” – Jimmy Durante

  22. Anthony, what is going on here? Since I had a satirical comment deleted by a moderator yesterday, Everything I post vanishes. Not held for moderation, just gone.
    I was not informed of any other action being taken that the “snip”. Could you check and clarify, please.

  23. Anthony, everything I post since yesterday just disappears, not held for moderation, just gone.
    Even my last message using your name, which is usually a flag to ensure “held for moderation” just went.
    Please check.

  24. I always wondered why someone like Michael Mann left particle physics for a relatively new field in climate science. I just figured his ability in sub-atomic physics was below average but perhaps his economic knowledge was well beyond his ability in science. He literally hockey-sticked massive amount of funding for himself and others. Probably not quite fair to say he took money from ALS sufferers. Heck, if we use economic forcing model, his climate research shortened their life-span, so spending on climate research versus ALS research was a net positive forcing on government spending by offsetting lifespan increases with carbon dioxide measurements.

  25. The NPR story on scientists cutting corners was aired immediately after another pro-CAGW scare story. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony as I was driving to another job.

  26. the problem is when they remove the dud results or the bad results, it not only hiodes serious issues..it also means other people may re-do the same bad resulting tests again and harm more.
    Honesty. for the good and the bad results and ALL available to be seen is what we need.
    retraction watch had a journal retract a study last week, BUT? the retractionitself was paywalled.
    fat lot of good that is to anyone.

  27. They could save a lot of money and redirect it to these studies by just cutting out stupid stuff. But I guess to sociologists, studying why lesbians are obese or the mating habits of Peruvian prostitutes makes sense.
    So as alluded to, cut the low hanging fruit first. NPR and PBS.

    • Peruvian prostitites are essential for the quality of life of workers at isolated drill sites in the Amazon; or at least they were when I was helping ferry them around in helicopters in the late 70’s.

  28. There may very well be a lot of competition for research funding in health sciences but there is a lot of money being spent on it. In the days when my area of research had money, I used to review proposals, we would get 10 to 15 proposals for everyone we could fund. So yes, many very good proposals where not funded. A interesting plot would be to compare DoD research funding levels (lots of operations funding so need to break out research), NASA(research funding), DARPA and the NSF versus the NIH and how they have trended over the last couple of decades.

  29. “Writing in The Hill, Andrew Gargano talks about an existing, effective way to ameliorate the disease’s devastating symptoms: Medical marijuana.”

    A number of studies have shown that cannabis functions in many ways that are beneficial to those with ALS, from serving as an analgesic to acting as a soothing muscle relaxant. Cannabis also functions as a saliva reducer, and so it has the ability to reduce symptoms of uncontrollable drooling that is common among those with ALS. Additionally, cannabis has been found successful in use as an antidepressant, results which have also been confirmed by an anonymous, self-reported survey of ALS patients conducted by the MDA/ALS Center at the University of Washington.
    Most importantly, however, is that a 2010 study found that cannabis offered anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects when tested on laboratory mice. The researchers found that cannabis slowed the progression of the disease and prolonged cell survival, ultimately concluding that “it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.”

    While this information may seem incredibly relieving to anyone who suffers from ALS, only 34 percent of Americans live in the 23 states, and the District of Columbia, that currently recognize the important medical uses of cannabis.
    http://reason.com/blog/2014/08/27/why-legal-pot-is-better-than-the-ice-buc

  30. “There are several research studies – past and present – investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS. More work is needed to conclusively determine what genetics and/or environment factors contribute to developing ALS.
    It is known, however, that military veterans, particularly those deployed during the Gulf War, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.”
    http://www.alsa.org/about-als/who-gets-als.html
    Why is it so?

    • I don’t know the answer to the question of why, but I do know that veterans who get ALS are eligible for benefits. My uncle, a vet, died from ALS 2 years ago. He qualified for care at a VA medical center, and it was wonderful. This is a horrible and dreadful disease, and I cannot imagine the thoughts my uncle must have had in the last months of his life, confined to a hospital bed, unable to speak, and on a ventilator and feeding tube. His mind was all there, but not much else.

    • hard to see how ALS is simply a genetic disease if it spikes depending upon military service. this pattern is more consistent with ALS being an acquired disease, with a genetic susceptibility.

      • Or, certain aspects of military service, say, extreme trauma, cause ALS-predisposition to come to the fore? Just speculating.

      • Just spitballing here, but military service also tends to follow family lines. That is to say, people with parents or other repsected family who served are more likely to join. It could be simple coincidence. Though I do feel “it’s genetic” is often a gross oversimplification.

    • I recall years ago a study on MS that showed that everyone that developed MS had had measles earlier in life. Not a single MS patient had not. But of course not everyone that had measles went on to develop MS.
      coincidence? or is the measles virus somehow able to insert itself into the genetics of susceptible individuals to cause MS later in life? Could ALS be something similar?
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/616540

      • Depending how many “years ago” the study was, it could be that just about everybody had measles when they were growing up, period. That was certainly true when I was a child; it was considered a “normal” part of childhood. Measles vaccine didn’t show up until years later. (Of course, I’m also old enough to remember when the first polio vaccine came out.)

  31. As I wrote in ‘And then they came for the Holocene’ yesterday:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/16/and-then-they-came-for-the-holocene-new-paper-suggests-removing-the-holocene-epoch-from-the-geologic-timescale/#comment-1738250

    “Tom O September 16, 2014 at 8:55 am
    “but niche science is where the money is”
    ——
    You have it – right there. No scientist in academia appears to be interested in knowledge for its own sake, the research has to bring in research grants, more students, result in large numbers of papers cited by larger numbers of others. It is all about fame and fortune.
    Worse still, research is expected to come up with a desired result or it has ‘failed’. But that is totally incorrect, a research result is valuable even if it falsifies the original hypothesis; but try to sell that to the Grants department who want a satisfied customer.
    We are living Eisenhower’s nightmare.”

    Science is dead in today’s universities – it is being driven solely by their bean counting Grant’s departments and the Deans that are subservient to them for collegiate funding.

  32. Dr. Michaels,
    I formed a habit of listening to NPR many years ago when I was “young and stupid.” It is a habit that I’ve found difficult to kick.
    NPR (and Richard Harris) is so completely bent on the subject of climate that it can accurately be described as a wholly-owned propaganda broadcast platform for climate alarmism.
    It has become nearly impossible for me to restrain the impulse to throw objects at the radio whenever NPR invokes “climate change” in its reports (and, believe me, it’s gotten to the point where they now attribute nearly every human problem to “climate change”).
    In the area of climate, NPR’s pretense of journalistic impartiality and balance is a joke and a farce.

  33. Government funding for science is inherently political. Someone must pick a “winner” before the results are known. This ultimately drives science down a belief based road. Funding is based on what we believe will work, not what actually works.
    An alternative is to end government based grants and allow business to deduct the cost of scientific research 100% in the first year. The cost would be identical to government based funding, but the profit and loss effect over time would weed out junk science.
    As things are now, the only way to weed out junk science from government funding is for the government to go bankrupt. While the government is doing its level best to implement this exact solution, it makes much more fiscal sense to apportion the risk to business and let the market sort things out.
    In the end, the market is significantly more efficient than policy makers at determining the correct place to invest money, including research monies.

  34. Having consulted one prominent scientist and professor in Australia, after attending his ‘Warmists are mutants’ or something more fancy named lecture. He stated that Australia alone was churning out 4000 scientists every year. That’s FOUR thousand hungry mouths to feed each and every year. That is a lot of taxpayer dollars to keep in grants and employment.

  35. My Ph.D. advisor was just this sort of overselling academic who was wildly successful at bringing in grants and consulting money. I learned from the best….what not to do. I have seen bad-money-driving-out-good repeatedly and it is disgusting. For example, in a proposal to NSF propose lots of stuff (some of which you have already done, since they want proof [which is itself stupid]) and then deliver far less than the money you got. sickening.

  36. Thanks, Dr. Michaels. Very good article.
    Climate science has been hurt and discredited by alarmism that is encouraged by the need for tax-payer funding. A share of public exposure is required; so the media get to say what is good science and what is not.
    Purposefully “cutting corners” is scientific fraud.
    The finding that CO2 is the control of the Earth’s global temperature cut a long corner, it has disqualified itself.

  37. I have the opportunity now to again be teaching people about “evidence-based medicine.” I teach off of the various examples of when common clinical practice has been proven wrong, when weaker methods have led to wrong conclusions, when lack-of-publication-of-negative-results has biased the prevailing available evidence, when the wrong end-points have become commonly accepted end-points, and so on.
    For a lot of this, I can depend on JAMA and NEJM articles. Also, Circulation, and other high impact factor journals.
    I used to use “alternative medicine” examples, but that just allowed everyone to carry on with their beliefs in the prevailing schema.
    I then present some basic, straight-forward, common-sense epistemology – with no fancy words, and little to no reference to individuals or schools of thought – except to place these ideas in a timeline trend of history – cuz you have to understand that all of these ideas, the good and the bad – emerge from culture across time, so you need historical context.
    Once I have shaken everyone’s belief in prevailing wisdom and published results, I teach them how to review existing pieces of information when evaluating any hypothesis, then how to analyze existing data and develop a research agenda to explore unknowns.
    Then, I teach them how to take what they know of research design, science, and statistics already to design appropriate studies.
    About half-way through, the medical doctors I am able to teach get a negative attitude to me, since I slay so many sacred cows. Remember, the docs are all raised on a steady diet of hubris and pharmaceutical-sponsored lunches.
    Myself, I have diagnosed plenty of weak areas in healthcare, and published several negative-results studies. Because I am a scientist.
    I have mostly done these studies with funding other than NIH/federal funding, and have worked in my spare time to carry out some studies, apart from my day job.
    How to get cited?
    I am considering emailing my studies to the 20 or 30 individuals I can identify as advocates for some prevailing idea.
    I have had communication with those funded by promoting weak but trumped-up ideas. I politely present clear, legitimate questions. The first response is usually polite but insufficient to answer the question. The second round of emails gets cold, and then I never hear back.
    I will never be a highly-recognized scientist. However, I hope my students will be clear-headed and contribute to society rather than practicing weak care or conducting worthless studies. One can hope.

    • At 9:16 AM on 17 September, Ron Scubadiver had written that:

      NPR may get taxpayer money, but it is hardly state radio. It is left wing radio.

      …in response to which one need only quote William James:

      “A difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.”

      • Cute, but not intelligent or meaningful. NPR’s message does not change with who is in the White House, it’s always left wing. If it followed the whims of each administration, it would be state radio.

        • At 9:16 AM on 17 September, Ron Scubadiver had written that:

          NPR may get taxpayer money, but it is hardly state radio. It is left wing radio.

          …in response to which I had quoted philosopher William James:

          A difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.

          …and now we’ve got Ron Scubadiver trying to come back with:

          Cute, but not intelligent or meaningful. NPR’s message does not change with who is in the White House, it’s always left wing. If it followed the whims of each administration, it would be state radio.

          This assertion fails by way of the presumption that when “who is in the White House” is the head of the Republicans rather than the Partieleiter of the National Socialist Democrat American Party (NSDAP), the federal government is in the hands of the “right wing.”
          The Red Faction of the great Boot-On-Your-Neck Party permanent incumbency are somehow supposed to be less statist than are their colleagues on the other side of the aisle?
          Non sequitur.
          Admittedly, the pseudointellectual weasels of NPR will adhere with barnacle tenacity (and intelligence) to the dogmata of National Socialism when confronted with the possibility of the Republicans gaining ascendency, but they will always engage with the “Grand Old Party” [sic] to draw those fundamentally mercantilistic servitors of corporate welfare into the “Liberal” fascist line.
          As observed, the difference between Republican statists and National Socialist statists continues always to be a difference which is really no difference at all.

          Apparently millions continue to harbor the strange delusion that the Republican party is the party of free enterprise, and, at least since the New Deal, the party of conservatism. In fact, the party is and always has been the party of state capitalism. That, along with the powers and perks it provides its leaders, is the whole reason for its creation and continued existence. By state capitalism I mean a regime of highly concentrated private ownership, subsidized and protected by government. The Republican party has never, ever opposed any government interference in the free market or any government expenditure except those that might favour labour unions or threaten Big Business. Consider that for a long time it was the party of high tariffs — when high tariffs benefited Northern big capital and oppressed the South and most of the population. Now it is the party of so-called “free trade” — because that is the policy that benefits Northern big capital, whatever it might cost the rest of us. In succession, Republicans presented opposite policies idealistically as good for America, while carefully avoiding discussion of exactly who it was good for.

          — Clyde Wilson, “The Republican Charade: Lincoln and His Party” (12 September 2006)

  38. Illegitimate climate research is killing people by vanquishing resources for legitimate life saving biotech research.

  39. The market recently found a way to raise tens of millions of dollars without government assistance for ALS research by video taping people taking the “ice bucket challenge” and posting the video on social networks. This fund raising by cascading effect was extremely effective. Hopefully that money finds it’s way into the hands of ethical practicing scientists and not the hands of the emotionally practicing scientists.

    • Here’s something relevant I posted on another thread:

      “Writing in The Hill, Andrew Gargano talks about an existing, effective way to ameliorate the disease’s devastating symptoms: Medical marijuana.”

      A number of studies have shown that cannabis functions in many ways that are beneficial to those with ALS, from serving as an analgesic to acting as a soothing muscle relaxant. Cannabis also functions as a saliva reducer, and so it has the ability to reduce symptoms of uncontrollable drooling that is common among those with ALS. Additionally, cannabis has been found successful in use as an antidepressant, results which have also been confirmed by an anonymous, self-reported survey of ALS patients conducted by the MDA/ALS Center at the University of Washington.
      Most importantly, however, is that a 2010 study found that cannabis offered anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects when tested on laboratory mice. The researchers found that cannabis slowed the progression of the disease and prolonged cell survival, ultimately concluding that “it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.”

      While this information may seem incredibly relieving to anyone who suffers from ALS, only 34 percent of Americans live in the 23 states, and the District of Columbia, that currently recognize the important medical uses of cannabis.

  40. I still question that figure. You rely on industry sources and the industry would love to have a free hand in introducing new products- in other words, they would love it if the FDA disappeared. I will not be convinced as long as you use industry figures. I should say that the drug industry does not impress me as trustworthy. You need to do better than repeat unsubstantiated claims.

    • “You rely on industry sources and the industry would love to have a free hand in introducing new products- in other words, they would love it if the FDA disappeared. ”
      mpainter, the FDA regulations constitute high barriers to entry; so the big companies can dominate. No small startup can compete. The Big Companies love barriers to entry.
      Learn about the concept. It is everywhere. In the West at least, and an important reason for its demise.

      • At 1:10 PM on 17 September, in responding to mpainter‘s “unstuck” assertion of disbelief with regard to SAMURAI‘s earlier observation about the average costs associated with getting marketing approval from the U.S.Food & Drug Administration for a New Drug Application – about $1 billion, give or take a hundred million or so – DirkH advises:

        …the FDA regulations constitute high barriers to entry; so the big companies can dominate. No small startup can compete. The Big Companies love barriers to entry.
        Learn about the concept. It is everywhere. In the West at least, and an important reason for its demise.

        Insofar as I’m aware, the phenomenon is known as regulatory capture, which is characterized in Wiki-bloody-pedia as “…a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.”
        In actuality (of course), this is typical Wiki-friggin’-pedia statist cement-headedness, inasmuch as the scrupulously honest examination of regulatory capture reveals that such government regulation never comes into existence except at the behest of the established actors in the market sectors to be “regulated.” The Wiki-leftard-pedia convocation persist in viewing regulatory capture as an unintended consequence of dirigiste government diddling in the marketplace whereas it is (and has always been) the purpose of such “regulation.”
        Drawing upon the Wiki of the Ludwig von Mises Institute on this subject:

        According to the Chicago School economist George Stigler, “as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits.”[2] Under this theory of regulatory capture, an industry or some portions of an industry cultivate government to obtain laws and rules that favor the industry. The government trades favors for what it wants. Politicians gain political contributions, side payments, and votes for being seen to control the industry. The industry captures the regulators.

      • I know the concept well and there is some truth in it but why did they deregulate airlines? And telephone companies? Things are not so simple and straightforward as you believe. If the drug companies have “captured” the FDA then why the complaints about the great expense of drug approval?
        Tucci78 refers me below to quarterly reports for verification of the billion dollar figure given as the cost of gaining FDA approval for a new drug. He is an innocent that knows nothing about corporate accounting. I see that there is no way of substantiating that information that originates with the drug companies and cannot otherwise be verified. I know better than to swallow industry figures.

        • At 6:10 PM on 17 September, mpainter obliviates:

          Tucci78 refers me below to quarterly reports for verification of the billion dollar figure given as the cost of gaining FDA approval for a new drug. He is an innocent that knows nothing about corporate accounting. I see that there is no way of substantiating that information that originates with the drug companies and cannot otherwise be verified. I know better than to swallow industry figures.

          Okay, mpainter. Just what the hell do YOU conceive to be a reliable source of information on the costs associated with getting a New Drug Application through the approvals process at the Food & Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs?
          If the pharmaceuticals manufacturers’ compliance with SEC regulations (as embodied in their Form 10-K annual and Form 10-Q quarterly reports) can’t be taken as the figurative “gold standard” in terms of adherence to those limited liability corporations’ fiduciary responsibilities in “sunlighting” their officers’ allocations of stockholder funds and other resources, and therefore the most complete accounts of pharma research and development expenditures you’re going to get without waterboarding their Chief Financial Officers, have you another way of determining the degree – if any – to which those costs deviate from the billion-dollar rough estimate provided by SAMURAI and against which you’re yammering?
          And, hey, I’m such an “innocent,” having spent just about all of my adult life as a physician and roughly twenty years, off and on, working with the pharmaceuticals industry at one remove or another.
          Not that personal fund of knowledge matters one goddam little bit here, mpainter, but you’re the one who impugned my understanding of “corporate accounting” with regard to the pharmaceuticals industry, ain’tcha?
          In my considered estimation, mpainter, you’re blowing it out’n your distalmost sphincter, and the same I’ll rise to explain.

      • Relax, tucci78, and show some moderation. I question the reliability of unconfirmable industry figures and you come sputtering insults. In regard to your innocence of corporate accounting, You could remedy that with some effort. Do not blame me.

        • At 5:56 AM on 18 September, the condescending obliterative evasive mpainter, obsessed with his wholly emotional denigration of SAMURAI‘s much earlier observation that the average pharmaceuticals manufacturer sustains costs of about one billion dollars in the course of getting the average New Drug Application through the FDA’s marketing approval process (not to mention the expenditures necessary to meet EMEA and Japanese requirements for similar approvals), continually confronted with the plain goddam fact that these corporations are required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to file annual and quarterly reports in which those R&D costs are enumerated, and those reports are to all intents and purposes the best possible sources of information in the public domain with regard to the expenses associated with the development of pharmaceuticals in compliance with 21 CFR, Chapter I, continues to treat the facts of reality (not to mention this, your humble respondent) with contempt, blathering:

          Relax, tucci78, and show some moderation. I question the reliability of unconfirmable industry figures and you come sputtering insults. In regard to your innocence of corporate accounting, You could remedy that with some effort. Do not blame me.

          For your obstinate refusal to designate some source of drug development costs which you do, by whatever you use in lieu of reason and knowledge, consider a reliable appreciation of those expenditures, mpainter, who the hell else is to be blamed but you?
          Let’s say that you, mpainter, have something that passes for knowledge “…of corporate accounting” pertinent to the PhRMA member corporations. Will you share that hard edge of your advantage with those of us, who, in our “innocence,” work from nothing more than business intelligence conduits like the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system and proprietary industry-specific services like the AdisInsight Databases?
          If you continue in your failure to answer that simple, repeated question, mpainter, what else is to be concluded except that you’re just sucking wind and therefore deserving of nothing but insult?

      • Okay tucci78, I will answer any question you ask if you will only ask it. Right now you seem incoherent, so relax and have a beer and think pleasant thoughts. Then you might get in the right frame of mind to deal with this difficult problem of learning something new and asking questions in a sensible way.

        • Continuing in his [trimmed] about how there’s supposed to be some more reliable source of information than SEC reports and industry-specific business intelligence assets (such as the AdisInsight Databases previously mentioned) on the costs associated with a pharmaceuticals manufacturer’s compliance with the process required for the FDA’s approval of New Drug Application (an average of about one billion dollars per NDA, give or take a hundred million or so), at 4:21 PM on 18 September, mpainter disgraces himself in public yet again by spewing:

          Okay tucci78, I will answer any question you ask if you will only ask it. Right now you seem incoherent, so relax and have a beer and think pleasant thoughts. Then you might get in the right frame of mind to deal with this difficult problem of learning something new and asking questions in a sensible way.

          …whereupon it’s clear that [trimmed]
          [Unfortunately, there’s not much left after the insults are removed. .mod]

  41. 42 years ago, in an underground parking garage in Rosslyn VA, the injunction “Follow the money” was coined as a clue to identify the perpetrators of one of the most notorious crimes of the age – the Watergate Break-In.
    Today it is simply a capsule description of how the academia-buraucracy complex works.

  42. So, we should conclude that we’ve devolved from the Golden Age of Medicine, which was… er, in the year 1997 (?)
    I listened to Inskeep’s intro, then listened to the interview by Richard Harris, and I heard this message very strongly: The scramble for federal dollars is making medical researchers cut corners. Well, shame on those federal research funding agencies. Less urgent was the message, buried deep in the interview, of the medical official who says that it’s less about the dollars and more about a “culture” of the researchers which leads them to cut corners. I would state it another way. It’s not about the federal funding, and it isn’t about the competition for “scarce federal funds”, however fierce the competition and scarce the funds. It’s about the character of the people who expect those funds.
    I would argue there have always been “Nostrums and Quackery”
    http://books.google.com/books/about/Nostrums_and_Quackery.html?id=8AVEAAAAIAAJ
    and the pseudoscientific journals that claim to validate them. As for today’s skullduggery, I tend to think any association that gives us such delights as “Physician Specialty Codes”, and wields the largest political lobying budget of any organization in the U.S. probably ought to be suspect in overtly one-sided findings of the research they sponsor. Read about the outright thuggery of the young AMA in the 1900’s, actually run by an extortionist. In order to deal a blow to the successful “patent medicine” industry, the AMA enforced strict compliance among its members to abide by the “code”. It also made it very difficult to practice if you weren’t a member.
    Paul DeKruif’s biographical book, Microbe Hunters, 1926, is a delightful, if slightly bombastic reminder of the perils of research in the field of microbiology. Van Lewenhoek, Koch, Lister, Reed, Pasteur, were all great men who endured all manner of difficulties in their discoveries and their hunt for cures to deadly diseases. Politicking for grants, propaganda aganst oponents, smear campaigns, backbiting, research doctoring – all part of the research sop of their respective day.
    I don’t believe things were ever better, not that things are so hot the way they are. I enjoyed thinking about this topic. Thanks, Dr. Michaels.

  43. This gives additional information as to why the ALS foundation has gone out for private donations using the “Ice Bucket” challenge.

  44. Integrity should not depend on compensation. This is the same nonsense which is cited for criminal poverty. If these people are underfunded, then they should either resign or defend their demand for a larger budget.

  45. is it even possible to “cure” your DNA ? maybe you can relieve some symptoms but cure ? I doubt it …
    Most money spend on finding these “cures” is wasted, same for most cancer research … you can’t cure DNA …

  46. Another very worthwhile read that discusses how a predominant opinion in a field of science, at the mercy of human nature, skews the published literature, funding and the studies themselves to favor those supporting it begins…
    “On September 18, 2007, a few dozen neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and drug-company executives gathered in a hotel conference room in Brussels to hear some startling news. It had to do with a class of drugs known as atypical or second-generation antipsychotics, which came on the market in the early nineties. The drugs, sold under brand names such as Abilify, Seroquel, and Zyprexa, had been tested on schizophrenics in several large clinical trials, all of which had demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the subjects’ psychiatric symptoms. As a result, second-generation antipsychotics had become one of the fastest-growing and most profitable pharmaceutical classes. By 2001, Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa was generating more revenue than Prozac. It remains the company’s top-selling drug.
    But the data presented at the Brussels meeting made it clear that something strange was happening: the therapeutic power of the drugs appeared to be steadily waning. A recent study showed an effect that was less than half of that documented in the first trials, in the early nineteen-nineties. Many researchers began to argue that the expensive pharmaceuticals weren’t any better than first-generation antipsychotics, which have been in use since the fifties. “In fact, sometimes they now look even worse,” John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told me”
    http://www.webcitation.org/6SgCvSc3w

  47. For Pharmaceutical companies, on-going treatments and maintenance are more profitable than a cure might be. These companies must make enormous profits to offset litigation. The US is so litigious that one bad drug might bankrupt a company.
    Presently on my TV, one Channel carries a Xarelto ad. The next carries a lawfirm who’ll sue Xarelto for you.
    .Everyone is victimized except the lawyers..

  48. Human-connected climate change funding has also sucked dollars away from research in other areas. How? Fund owners like the publicity associated with their philanthropy. So they fund what is hot and fashionably reportable to fund. Tax dollars likewise. Politicians of all shapes, sizes, and beliefs, hop on hot bandwagons, regardless of the topic. And then they budget research tax dollars into that hot topic. Meanwhile, others areas of research get short changed because they ain’t hot and newsworthy. If it bleeds it leads. If you want it to lead, make it bleed.

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