FX uses the scientific method better then JAMA?

U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Tue Dec 12 06:05:41 EST 1995



ckrepel at post.its.mcw.edu (Candace Krepel) wrote:

>U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu wrote:

>: And I'm sure you know just how much garbage does get published
>: under the guise that the scientific method was followed!
>: (supporting examples cut)

>I agree. But the presence of "garbage" in the scientific
>literature does not condone or excuse sloppy work on anyone's
>part.

Well... yes and no.

How else are you then to at least try and determine the 'truth' of
a matter if the majority of the work presented contains one type of
garbage or another?  (and I'm not really specifically referring to
this JAMA study here).

I mean... I went through the phase where it felt like everything is
garbage and god only knows what's true?

But if you want to pursue a career in science... you eventually
have to develop the mentality, 'well, some of this garbage work is
probably more correct then others?'  And then you start sifting
through all the garbage and try coming up with what is more likely
to be closer to the truth.  ???

And at this point I would believe FX over JAMA.  And just because
FX is not an official scientific publication... yes, I would excuse
them for not 'strictly adhering to the scientific methods'.  But at
least they identified what the scientific method is in their
program and gave attention to where they were deficient.

This JAMA study gives conclusions as 'fact' and then puts an escape
hatch for themselves at the very end.

And in their criteria for inclusion... peer-reviewed material was
not even considered... actually, most people don't consider whether
information cited was peer-reviewed or not.  How many papers have
you read where certain data referenced ends up coming from a letter
to the editor type of publication?

One of my favorite examples is that of Dr. Ho's presentation that
the Manchester Sailor was HIV+ (thus, the first known case of
AIDS).  He didn't write a full-fledged paper showing how he
determined this... he just wrote a letter to the editor.

This little piece of 'fact' was referenced in numerous materials
(and few/to none questioned the credibility of the information)...
even Laurie Garret's book "The Coming Plague" referenced this as
'fact'.

But lo and behold, years later, re-testing of original samples not
only came out negative, but of a that of a different person's DNA
fingerprinting altogether!  [haven't heard anything lately on the
investigation of possible fraud (and deliberate switching of
samples) which is going on in Manchester, BTW]

And when Ho releases this bit of information... he states that he
never said this was a fact... after all, it was only published as
a letter to the editor.

Of course, at the time, that didn't stop him from using this 'fact'
in the Wistar Report or in a tv documentary when discussing the
origins of AIDS.  ...but still never bothered to write a full-
fledged peer-reviewed paper.

Now, we have this new 'fact', which BTW, he published as another
letter to the editor... so we begin all over again.  And years from
now, he could change his mind again and say the Manchester Sailor
was the first case of AIDS.

Thus, when comparing FX's experiment to JAMA's cumulative study -
both is admittedly garbage in one way or another... but FX is
probably more correct (and actually more excusable than JAMA's
garbage). ???

>I tell my students that the presence of typographical errors in
>the local newspaper is not justification for typos in their
>papers. We don't have to lower _our_ standards to those
>of others.

Well... you are telling them wrong then!  For if you want to
survive in a lab these days (to make a living)... yes, you do have
to lower your standards!  Bucking the system only gives you a lot
of headaches and a lot of different jobs in a short period of time!

You can take my word for that!

All those numerous deleted examples... I fought each and every one
of them.  And where am I today?  A cashier in a bakery.

If only I agreed to do my cell counts on a dirty hemacytometer...
I would still be working today in my career.

Then again, if I had it all to do over again... I still would not
accept what is unacceptable!

Years ago someone gave me the advice... just have tunnel vision;
only care about what it is you are doing and that it is being done
correctly... and don't worry about what is being done around you.

But he never said I would have to NOT clean my hemacytometer so
that my cell counts would come closer to that of another person's
in the lab?

So today, I tell young people going in the field... leave your
ideals at the door and don't take this too seriously - just do what
you are told, never question anything, and just concern yourself
with taking home a paycheck!  Because that is what it all boils
down to at *my* level.

And if you want to pursue scientific truths???

Well, I watch FX breakfast time!  :-)

-Kathy






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