jcherwon at dres.dnd.ca
Wed Dec 27 16:19:07 EST 1995
Although the topic was the negative experience you had with biotec
companies that wanted you to falsify data, there is also another positive side
- namely your refusal to do so and your strength to weather their actions.
Years ago, when I worked at a a research branch of a large food company
one summer, I found that they insisted on truth and would pounce on anyone
that was less than 100%. However, they would also have sole ownership of the
results and if there were any negative findings I doubt these would be
released from where they stored all the data.
I actually did experience dishonesty (?, bending the truth?) in academia.
There were a few professors under pressure to publish that would insist their
graduates repeat the experiments until they got the numbers they wanted.
Again, most graduates refused but many also left because they were
disillusioned. Curiously, the profs with the worst ethics were also usually
the poorest scientists who couldn't figure out what to do even when they did
get the falsified reports they insisted on.
There was one cancer researcher that once confided in me that his life
was a lie. Sure his publications were truthful, but he was lieing with the
truth. The conditions of the experiments were unrealistic and the animal model
he used was not applicable to humans. However, he had 2 technicians, 5
graduates and 2 post-docs needing his success for funding and he knew that the
granting agencies were run by academics that didn't reward errors.
Perhaps honesty will become more prevalent when there is a shift from the
"stick" (punishment for dishonesty, offenders seldom caught) to a "carrot"
(granting agencies or investors realize that they realize their
responsibility to promote "honesty is the best policy").
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