Fraud in the pharmaceutic industry:
According to the Sydney Morning Herald (April 17, 08), the US pharmaceutical company Merck has been accused of having lined up doctors (who apparently were not involved in the research) to put their names on publications in academic journals. Such ghost-writing appears to be widespread and calls into question all legitimate research of the pharmaceutic industry. Merck disputes this: although acknowledging that it sometimes paid medical writers to draft reports, it says that it then handed the reports to the doctors who did the research. However, an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that Merck had indeed manipulated a considerable number of publications promoting the pain drug Vioxx (which was withdrawn from the market in 2004 because it was linked to heart attacks, with Merck agreeing to pay $US 4.85 billion in compensation), and that some of the authors had contributed little to the work. It suggests that each author of publications in medical journals should report his/her specific contribution.
Fraud in the politicical information industry:
The New York Times April 20, 2008, published a comprehensive report on how the Bush administration has mislead the public. Full report here:
The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and GuantÃ¡namo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation. Its report is based on these data.
Some excerpts here:
“How the Pentagon Spread Its Message”
“Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administrationâ€™s wartime performance…..”
“The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.”
“In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.”
“the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.”
“Many analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments, and some have used their platforms to criticize the conduct of the war. Several, like Jeffrey D. McCausland, a CBS military analyst and defense industry lobbyist, said they kept their networks informed of their outside work and recused themselves from coverage that touched on business interests.”
“Some network officials, meanwhile, acknowledged only a limited understanding of their analysts’ interactions with the administration. They said that while they were sensitive to potential conflicts of interest, they did not hold their analysts to the same ethical standards as their news employees regarding outside financial interests.”
“Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts … properly armed … can push back in that arena”
“Conversely, the administration has demonstrated that there is a price for sustained criticism, many analysts said. You’ll lose all access, …”
Whether in science, the economy or in the media, data evaluation by people whose objectivity might be jeopardized by financial or other interests, will lead to corruption. Such corruption in politics may have catastrophic effects on the stability of the system.