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Friday, August 18, 2006

Two Cans of Pears

Imagine a case of canned pears, unlabeled in aluminum cans. Pull out two cans. Label one with a brand name such as Delmonte and on the other put a generic looking sticker that says Pears. It is my firm belief that most people who try the pears and would pick the brand name pears as superior quality canned pears. Furthermore, if you were to hire a group of scientists to prove that the first can of pear is better than the next, they would successfuly complete the mission.

I also believe that science can be applied to anything. That would include the psychology of scientists. One way to test science would be to knowingly hire scientists to do something you know is wrong, such as analyzing two identical cans of pears with the goal of proving one superior to the other. When they get the results you wanted them to get, they have to get published. Once that is done you reveal the hoax and study the reactions of all who were involved. What you are studying is the process of pathological science. You could address motives, methods, the contributions of others, the response from the authorities and maybe even the response to the notion of being tested. No one likes to be tested when they are unaware that it is taking place. Yet everyday people go to work and make a contribution to their eventual evaluation. Shouldn't science be given an evaluation from time to time?

It is time to evaluate science on a grander scale than ever before. The reason is because science is operating on a grander scale than ever before. And lately things have gotten out of control. The drug money coming in has made some serious alterations to what was once considered science. Asking the drug companies to be honest about their drugs is like asking Delmonte to be honest about the quality of their canned pears.

The "Two Cans of Pears" scenario has a way around claims that one is superior to the other. You simply have to stop looking at the label and put a bar code on the can. Likewise, drugs need to have a non-marketing label. The motivations of drug companies must be taken out of the picture. The current model for clinical trials is often to have the drug company run the trials, analyze the data and report to the FDA. There needs to be a way to get the data points analyzed prior to any knowledge of what group they belong to. In other words, we need blind trials in the true sense of the word blind. The drugs need to be tested like a tin can that contains pears. Analyze what is inside and make your judgements. When it's done, take a look at the marketing label. Not before.

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