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Fake medical studies, conflicts of interest, and rationalisations

According to Dr Andrew Klein, a UK anaesthetist and editor-in-chief of the journal Anaesthesia, fake medical data is on the rise. He believes that there is about one fake medical study for every 40 papers submitted for publication. There is a data-pattern analysis technique they use to detect this and although they find the odd mistake they believe "nine times out of 10 people have clearly made their data up or changed their data. A lot of articles that we might have published before are now not going into the journal.” Click here to read more. 

I am going to file this under 'we are all subject to conflicts' and point out that even when the conflict is not about money - it may be solely about prestige, or pride, or just winning an argument - it can influence behaviour. Everyone is subject to these kinds of pressures - and what's interesting is that the people submitting articles to Klein's journal probably did not think they were doing anything wrong, or perhaps, not very wrong. Sometimes you hear people talk about what everyone 'everyone knows'. Then they get a set of data that doesn't fit the pattern, and they could think 'that can't be right' and instead of holding on to the question, they moved a data point or two...

Which is a caution to us all, to look at the data, not look for how the data supports the story we are already telling ourselves. 

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