Mistakes that keep on giving
You know the more I read the less I'm able to project safety and trust onto whoever happens to be wearing a white lab coat.
Fascinating! (It looks like the purpose of cancer research is to mop up the funding dollars from governments and charities - not to find cures.)
When I was 17, I listened to a speaker at a tradeshow describe his work for the National Cancer Institute. Working late nights, diligently, he discovered that the entire premise of cancer as an overgrowth of unwanted cells was incorrect. He was ecstatic. His life's work paid off. He couldn't wait to share his evidence. The starting point of all research was incorrect so solutions never came. When he examined different starting points (like synthetic chemical overwhelm, genetic damage passed down through generations, epigenetic triggers, metabolic suffocation from synthetic foodstuffs, etc.) he found solutions galore.
By morning, he had no job and was threatened with legal action--and more corporal threats to his life and family. Done.
I heard him when I was 17. I'm 57.
Would be interested in hearing any thoughts you might have on Bret Weinstein's claim that animal studies (specifically in lab mice) have been tainted by evolutionary pressures in artificial environments breeding mice resistant to drug damage.
Good stuff here! I highly recommend reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. It's a fascinating look at the woman behind the HeLa cells as well as the moral dilemmas of human experimentation - I'd say Henrietta got her revenge. I would also recommend looking into the murine telomeres which Bret Weinstein discusses in the Darkhorse podcast #131. I'll be sure to add "A Conspiracy of Cells" to my reading list.
Thank you for shining light on this issue!
"mistakes that quietly get passed on to thousands or tens of thousands of papers."
The Science Virus!
I haven’t read this anywhere else. I unpaused my subscription.
The scope of pollution of science literature discussed reminds me of Bret Weinstein’s claims about mice used in so much biological research.
Our society is obsessed with "truth" and yet--especially in experts--the truth is about as welcome as a bucket of horse manure. I can see why young radicals are more inclined to burn it all down, but in this case I think the hard and necessary work is to systematically demand that these scientists "be" what they've been pretending to be.
Who even knows what we might accomplish for humankind if we stopped allowing biased scientists (and their corporate owners) to "pretend" they've already accomplished things, and instead insisted that they really learn, invent, correct and accomplish innovations.
Combine this lack of solid foundation
with the push to get rid of regulations:
When previous work is the springboard for subsequent efforts -- and what research doesn't rely on presuppositions or the 'proven' results of previous work -- there is always the danger that what is taken for granted is mistaken in some fundamental way and is therefore for nought. And it is a sad fact that when erroneous assumptions are laid bare, the dissemination of this awareness tends to meet fierce resistance from the cognoscenti. Paradigm shifts take time.
Reading this excellent piece, I was reminded of work by Paul Marmet in an other discipline:
The reality is indeed that 'the science' -- in direct proportion to the complexity of the issues at hand -- is never settled.
There is no excuse for not knowing the source of HEp-2 cells.
ATTCC is the cell bank which maintains cell culture stocks and distributes them for research. And they say clearly in their info on HEp-2 cells that…
“This line was originally thought to be derived from an epidermoid carcinoma of the larynx but was subsequently found – based on isoenzyme analysis, HeLa marker chromosomes, and DNA fingerprinting – to have been established via HeLa cell contamination.…”
It's might look like an accumulated technical debt in a huge programming product. Red bars on the figures and involving more and more related mistakes gives us idea, that the total amount of problems grows exponentially. Which means that the whole project "Biology as Science" currently are very close to the stage, when the cost of every improvement will be greater than total amount of possible benefits.
For informational systems we use a term "refactoring", and even in our field, project owners do everything possible to delay those painful changes, especially when it doesn't bring any delivery in production.
For the Biology, we are actually don't have a term "Product Owner". Hypothetically it "All the people over the globe", but it means nothing in terms of funding. Anyway, Science as a self-regulated system obviously shows signs of aging.
This post helps sum up this entire space.
I believe I heard Dr. Mikovits discuss this a while back. Trust nothing in the way of literature results is the lesson.