The ‘big problems’ with scientific papers

We don’t know if CNN intentionally took the NEJM study at face value instead of examining its flaws.

We do know, however, that in the era of COVID, the U.S. government is payingmajor media outlets, including CNN, to advance the “safe and effective” narrative about the vaccines.

Whether or not CNN chose to ignore the flaws in this particular study is one question. The bigger question, however, is how can prestigious journals, such as The NEJM, publish studies that don’t meet rigorous scientific research standards?

According to The Guardian, today’s system for publishing scientific papers “comes with big problems.”

For one, reviewers and editors are more likely to give a scientific paper a good write-up and publish it in their journal if it reports positive or exciting results.

According to The Guardian:

“So scientists go to great lengths to hype up their studies, lean on their analyses so they produce “better” results, and sometimes even commit fraud in order to impress those all-important gatekeepers. This drastically distorts our view of what really went on.”

In the case of studies funded by public health agencies that have an agenda — for example, The NEJM study supported by the CDC which is highly pro-COVID vaccine — one can imagine the authors would be biased toward publishing results that support that agenda.

There are other problems, too. For example, scientific papers frequently contain errors, but authors rarely correct them.

Then there’s the question of data. Again, according to The Guardian:

“Back in the day, sharing the raw data that formed the basis of a paper with that paper’s readers was more or less impossible. Now it can be done in a few clicks, by uploading the data to an open repository.

“And yet, we act as if we live in the world of yesteryear: papers still hardly ever have the data attached, preventing reviewers and readers from seeing the full picture.”

Did the CDC employees who authored the NEJM study construct the study in such a way as to arrive at a set of preconceived conclusions?

We can’t know definitively unless they tell us, just as we can’t know if CNN intentionally failed to examine the study instead of merely regurgitating the authors’ findings.

But we do know this: The job of the media is to think and report critically — and in this case, CNN failed at that job.