Medicine And The Media

Lies, damned lies, and science

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:747
  1. Peter Wilmshurst

    The makers of this Horizon documentary propose that a significant amount of scientific fraud occurs in Britain and that we need mechanisms similar to those in other developed countries to detect fraud and prosecute the guilty. The “British scientific establishment” maintains that this is unnecessary. Credited with speaking on behalf of the establishment, or at least the Royal Society, Professor Peter Lachmann correctly stated that in Britain the number of reported cases of fraud, compared with the total amount of science done, is extemely low. Has editing misrepresented him? Certainly he seems to suggest that the low rate of reported cases of fraud in Britain is because of the greater integrity of British scientists. Others provided the more credible explanation.

    Michael Baum, professor of surgery at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, admitted that he had become aware of scientific fraud in his department but failed to report it. Clearly it is difficult to choose between exposing a colleague and discrediting the department on the one hand, and allowing dishonest science to stand uncorrected, potentially harming the public, …

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