Dishonesty in medical research
DOI link for Dishonesty in medical research
Dishonesty in medical research book
Should we suppose that truth-seekers are truthful? Jacob Bronowski seems to have thought so. He says that for scientists ‘nothing matters as much as the singleminded pursuit of truth’ (1977: 199) and that the ‘professional veracity of scientists allows no compromises. It tells each man that he must report what he believes to be true, exactly and without suppression or editing…’ (1977: 200). But as Gerald Dworkin observes, this assumption that truth-seekers will be truthful is quite unsafe: the idea that science is ‘objective, self-correcting, concerned only with the truth, immune from the biases and motivations that seem inherent in all other forms of human activity’ (1983: 66) and, hence, that scientists are honest and rational, idealizes science and scientists. Dworkin illustrates this lofty misperception of the scientist quoting from the eminent sociologist of science, Robert Merton: who says that there is a ‘virtual absence of fraud in the annals of science’ (Merton 1968: 613). Dworkin notes that while Merton said this in an address that was given back in 1937, later, in 1968, Merton was still accounting for the absence of fraud in science as due to ‘distinctive characteristics of science itself … the verifiability of results … the exacting scrutiny of fellow experts’ (Merton 1968: 613). Two assumptions underlie this idealization of science and scientists: both unsound.