Peer Review: HISTORY

George M. Carter gmc0 at ix.netcom.com
Mon Jan 22 09:42:07 EST 1996


<U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu> wrote:

>"David J. States" <states at ibc.wustl.edu> wrote on Sun, 21 Jan 1996
>21:14:14 -0600:

>>Cutting back on the number of scientists trying to solve these
>>very real problems is, in my view, not the solution.

>I disagree.  Cutting back on those who produce garbage would really
>help.  It would result in more money to go around to those who are
>good scientists, and not producing garbage.

>Or validating our own work (whether it be right or wrong) instead
>of pursing truths is also a waste of time.

>No we don't.  Because we need to do more then 'adequately' support
>these scientists doing good work.  Much more.

It seems to me several ideas have been conflated here (there's that
word again!)....

1) I disagree with the notion that we need to produce fewer
scientists.  As has been noted, there are many practical problems that
require at the very least, excellent technicians.  However, science is
not limited just to solving the quotidian horrors of our day!  (Or
shouldn't be ideally).

2)  I agree with the notion that the bad should be weeded out.  This
does require significant changes in the system that allow protection
of whistle blowers and appropriate judicial intervention and
punishment for fraud (whether from the standpoint of lying whistle
blowers or lies.)

3)  I thought science was based on the concept of developing a
hypothesis and then trying to find the case that overturns it?  Rather
than merely providing evidence that supports, actually actively
seeking the cases that disprove it?  As an example, the work of
Gallo's lab that showed "cure" in mice with Kaposi's sarcoma using a
sulfated peptido--polyglycan (SP-PG) was not reproduced in another
lab.  Nonetheless, a few people wound up trying this drug and
receiving no benefit or suffering "unexpected bleeding and other side
effects."  This is merely profiting off people's lives.

4) Adequate funding is of course the bugaboo.  From whence comes the
funding and to whom?  When there is an old boy network that funds the
familiar faces and when the NIH suffers from a serious lack of
investigator initated research, again, serious changes must be made in
the "system" not only at the government level, but also in University
and private industry.  These changes may need to be legislated by
Congress, but under current conditions, I'm not sure of the likelihood
of that nor the value of such legislation.  Nonetheless, the
discussion here has yielded a variety of specific ideas that perhaps
someone could synopsize.

Are people here at least agreed that some improvements can be made?

			George M. Carter





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