Memory Hole (31 October): Culpable silence

Scientific Misconduct Blog Memory Hole: Events of October 31st

81 years ago today: Houdini died

On 31 October 1926 Harry Houdini died. See Memory Hole 24 October

Who us?

21 years ago today: Slutsky case raises the obligation of coauthors

On 31 October 1986 an article in Science discussed the tough approach of University of California-San Diego (UCSD) towards collaborator responsibility.

I won't discuss the Slutsky case in detail here. Robert Slutsky, a cardiologist resigned on April 30 1985. His downfall began when a colleague raised questions about apparent duplications in his published articles. He had published 137 articles in 7 years. UCSD investigated every article in which his name appeared and concluded that at least 48 of these were questionable and 12 fraudulent.

The University were extremely critical of his co-authors - why did co-authors on faked publications not bother to check the data? In fact, although Slutsky was exposed in 1985, his colleagues knew about his fraudulent work for many years before that (BMJ).

We have learned very little. Two decades later some assert that even first authors are not permitted to see raw data.

Source: Science "San Diego's Tough Stand on Research Fraud" 234 (31 Oct 1986) 534-535.

5 years ago today: Andrew Fastow indicted

On 31 October 2002 former Enron Corporation chief financial officer Andrew Fastow was indicted on 78 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

For anyone interested in the regulatory and structural failures in the pharmaceutical industry the documentary movie Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) is a stupendous must-see.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(one of the three quotes on Enron’s series of inspirational notepads)

2 years ago today: Donald Rumsfeld

On 31 October 2005 it was reported that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld held a stake in Gilead Sciences valued at between $5 million and $25 million. Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on Gilead's board and sold $7 million worth of Gilead. Gilead is associated with Roche pharmaceuticals. Who do politicians represent?

2 years ago today: PhRMA and the Karasik conspiracy

On 31 October 2005 more on the Karasik Conspiracy was revealed. This ludicrous saga involved the integrity of the US Pharmaceutical industry lobby group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

"What argument do they have that physicians and patients should trust them?"

Briefly, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) admitted that they paid a publisher to have a thriller written about Croatian terrorists using Canadian pharmacy websites to slaughter millions of Americans. Jayson Blair working for Phoenix Books, was tasked with editing this book, called "The Karasik Conspiracy." The goal was supposedly "to scare Americans into opposing any amendment to existing legislation" that formally bans the import of low-cost prescriptions from Canada.

See also 21 October Memory Hole

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