PLoS and NYT vs. Money; FDA vs. Flavor; Hype(r)tension
By Curtis Porter
Medical Journal Gives Up on Evaluating Science
Today the editorial staff of PLoS Medicine, a peer reviewed, open access journal published by the Public Library of Science, declared, “While we continue to be interested in analyses of ways of reducing tobacco use, we will no longer be considering papers where support, in whole or in part, for the study or the researchers comes from a tobacco company.”
“By deciding to no longer allow for research funded in any part by tobacco industry, they're acknowledging that they're no longer able to evaluate science,” says ACSH's Jeff Stier. “It is the very role of journals to discern between good and bad science, and they're throwing their hands up in the air and saying, 'We can't do it.' It's a regression of scientific standards that journals can no longer trust themselves to evaluate science.”
The editorial offers the justification for this decision: “As a medical journal we do this for two reasons. First, tobacco is indisputably bad for health...Second, we remain concerned about the industry's longstanding attempts to distort the science of and deflect attention away from the harmful effects of smoking.”
“It's true that tobacco companies knowingly deceived their customers for many years,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “We can name a few activist groups funded by other interests that have also distorted science to suit their agenda. Still, it's the twenty-first century now, and there are many tobacco products - be they smokeless tobacco or lozenges - that may be used to help people quit smoking. Who but the tobacco industry that produces these alternatives is going to fund research concerning their safety and efficacy? And while smoking is decidedly bad for anyone's health, are the PLoS editors going to ban research supported by other disfavored industries - beverages, pharmaceuticals, who knows what others? - in the near future?” Read the full article HERE.