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9/12/09

The Wedgie Document – Corroborating Documentation

One thing that Atheism is Dead has noted in our research of “The Wedgie” document is that scientists whose research conclusions go against the accepted orthodoxy de jour are being blacklisted. We noted that the peer review referees are more like goalies who are playing for their preferred team in purposefully stopping the other team’s balls from getting though; and then, self-servingly conveniently, triumphantly claiming other side has not scored any points.

T“The Wedgie” Document Archives

Further confirmation of this comes to us from a portion of Rochus Boerner’s essay, “Some notes on Skepticism” as he considers the fallacy of “Accusations of Selective Reporting (the ‘File Drawer Effect’).”
Following are his observations:

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One of the standard criticisms levered by pseudoskeptics against unconventional research that relies on statistics (primarily parapsychology) is that only successful experiments were reported and the unsuccessful ones were suppressed (by burring [sic] them in the "file drawer"). Unlike the previous criticisms, the file drawer criticism is valid in principle, but I mention it in this list anyway because pseudoskeptics obsess only about the (largely imaginary) file drawers of the parapsychologists while ignoring the large file drawers of suppressed conventional science.

To cite just a few examples of what has been buried in those file drawers: fundamental criticisms of relativity are a priori ineligible for publication in the mainstream scientific journals. That's why most physicists are not aware of experimental evidence that apparently refutes special relativity. Positive results on cold fusion are similarly banned from publication, as are papers that radically question the accepted time line of human evolution. Cremo and Thompson's Forbidden Archeology contains several hundred pages of archeological discoveries that have been left to be forgotten in that particular file drawer. Veteran astronomer Halton Arp, who has been made a persona non grata in astronomy due to his discovery that modern cosmology is catastrophically wrong, describes how most of his own papers ended up in the astronomical "file drawer" instead of the astronomical journals as follows (Arp, Seeing Red, 1998):
"In the beginning there was an unspoken covenant that observations were so important that they should be published and archived with only a minimum of interpretation at the end of the paper. Gradually this practice eroded as authors began making and reporting only observations which agreed with their starting premises. The next step was that these same authors, as referees, tried to force the conclusions to support their own and then finally, rejected the papers when they did not. As a result more and more important observational results are simply not being published at the journals in which one would habitually look for such results. The referees themselves, with the aid of compliant editors, have turned what was originally a helpful system into a chaotic and mostly unprincipled form of censorship."

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the file-drawer of medical and other profit-oriented research that has been suppressed due to economic conflicts of interest is at least as thick as the body of published research. The tobacco industry had suppressed evidence that smoking causes cancer for decades, and the chemical industry has likewise suppressed evidence of public-health risks caused by its products. Examples of manipulated drug trials in medicine are legion. On July 25, 2002, The Nation published a special report titled Big Pharma, Bad Science that gives the following devastating assessment of the quality of modern medical research:
"In June, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and "consulting fees" are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge. Isn't that comforting? This announcement by the New England Journal of Medicine is just the tip of the iceberg of a scientific establishment that has been pervasively corrupted by conflicts of interest and bias, throwing doubt on almost all scientific claims made in the biomedical field."

"Unknown to many readers is the fact that the data being discussed was often collected and analyzed by the maker of the drug involved in the test. An independent 1996 study found that 98 percent of scientific papers based on research sponsored by corporations promoted the effectiveness of a company's drug. By comparison, 79 percent of independent studies found that a new drug was effective. This corruption reaches from the doctors prescribing a drug to government review boards to university research centers."

"Increasingly, the industry has converted academic research centers into subsidiaries of the companies. The billions of dollars of academic government funding essentially pays to flush out negative results, while private industry gets to profit from any successful result."

"And the results are expensive and sometimes tragic for the public. Experimental clinical drug trials are hazardous to participants and, more broadly, critical to those with life threatening conditions who need to know which treatments are fruitless to pursue. Yet researchers on industry payrolls end up pressured to suppress negative results. At the most basic level, researchers who defy their corporate sponsors know they may lose their funding."

Writer John Anthony West and geologist Robert M. Schoch have uncovered commanding geological evidence that the Egyptian Sphinx is thousands of years older than conventionally assumed, but their data has been, and is still being ignored by conventional Egyptology. When confronted with this research, Egyptologists have no explanation for it, but they insist that it cannot possibly be correct, because it contradicts their theories.

This site contains many more examples of suppressed and ignored discoveries spanning virtually the entire spectrum of human sciences. By the standards set by the pseudoskeptics themselves, therefore, almost all of science would have to be invalid. Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer writes in "Baloney Detection" (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36)
Watch out for a pattern of fringe thinking that consistently ignores or distorts data.

But "Consistently ignoring and distorting data" is pervasive in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, psychology, archeology and paleoanthropology. The "file drawer effect", while not uncontrolled per se is therefore in practice an uncontrolled criticism. Due to the broken peer review system and massive conflicts of interest in commercial science, it applies to and invalidates much of accepted science.

7 comments:

  1. Veteran astronomer Halton Arp, who has been made a persona non grata in astronomy due to his discovery that modern cosmology is catastrophically wrong, describes how most of his own papers ended up in the astronomical "file drawer" instead of the astronomical journals as follows

    That doesn't even make sense because Arp did published a lot of papers himself. Not only that, I remember reading about his theories probably in the late 80s in popular science books.

    His problem is that he has been proved wrong by HST and large ground telescopes* and he is bitter about that.


    *if you go to Arp's website (last article: 2007) you will see that he is still using old photographs from the 80's from Palomar Obs.

    Writer John Anthony West and geologist Robert M. Schoch have uncovered commanding geological evidence that the Egyptian Sphinx is thousands of years older than conventionally assumed

    I wonder if Mariano even reads those articles.

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  2. This reminds me:

    Mariano's idol, Michael Behe, in the Dover trail was shown stacks of books and articles contradicting his irreducible complexity theory, which he admitted he hasn't read*, which proves it is Creationists who discard evidence ad hoc and not other way around.

    *he obviously doesn't have to agree with them (essentially would have to disagree with himself) but he was unable to address them which shows he is "Consistently ignoring and distorting data"

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  3. When Mariano writes something like this that is just so blatantly stupid, I find myself wondering if it is even worth the effort to point out the short comings. The post itself says, "I'm a loon" far better than anything I could write.

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  4. I dunno his talk about drug companies was undeniably true though.

    Just pointing that out.

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  5. jdhuey, you still read his posts? I stopped doing that months ago, he is indeed a loon. I find the comment section is where the fun is. Too bad Mariano never reads the comments.

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  6. @anoymous 1: It is undeniably true that there are serious problems with conflict of interest in how the drug approval process is set up; however, that issue is in a totally different galaxy when you are talking about the complete lack of valid results from the lands of woo. It is Mariano's attempt to conflate the ridiculous with the serious.

    @anonymous 2: Well, I usually read the comments first and frequently never bother to read the posted drivel. However, if I'm going to actually make a comment on a post, I sorta kinda feel like I should read it.

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  7. Oops. I left out a word in a sentence above. It insert the word 'than' so it reads: 'a totally different galaxy THAN when'. Why is it that mistakes like that only appear to me AFTER I hit the Post Comment button - must be a sign from Thor.

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