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Nobel for scientists whom dogma rejected

The Nobel announced this morning (Mon 3 Oct) is a prime example of how hard it is to get a new idea accepted in the scientific community, even with the evidence in hand.

Robin Warren and Barry Marshall are Australians who came up with the idea that stomach ulcers were not due to stress but to a bacterium.

What rubbish! said the dogmatists, and the world agreed. After all, the idea is absurd, prima facie. Of course it’s wrong. For a hundred years, we have been taught that the stomach sterilizes bacteria, which cannot survive the acid.

If the pair hadn’t been so doggedly tenacious we would still think so.

Even the initial suspicion of Robin Warren of Perth in 1982 that helicobacter pylori might have something to do with ulcers arose from finding it in only fifty per cent of patients. Not an overwhelming indication.

Moreover, the small curved bacteria are found in half of all humans, it turned out, and in most people in developing countries.

The forces of reaction combined against them in the traditional manner so familiar to sociologists of science, but luckily were no match for the down-to-earth Aussies.

The Australians’ proposal of a microbial cause instead was ”very controversial and unexpected,” said Goran Hansson, who chairs the Nobel committee that awards the medicine or physiology prize. ”They had to spend the first few years convincing the rest of the world.”

In the grand tradition of the truly committed crackpot Barry Marshall went to the lengths of infecting himself with h. pylori to prove it causes gastric inflammation.

The pair persevered to prove that patients could only be permanently cured when it was eradicated from the stomach. Nowadays a short course in drugs and antibiotics banishes an ulcer without difficulty.

Two Australian scientists have been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine for their discovery that stomach ulcers can be caused by a bacterial infection.

Robin Warren and Barry Marshall showed the bacterium Helicobacter pylori plays a key role in the development of both stomach and intestinal ulcers…..

The Nobel citation praises the doctors for their tenacity, and willingness to challenge prevailing dogmas.

“By using technologies generally available they made an irrefutable case that the bacterium H. pylori is causing disease.

“By culturing the bacteria they made them amenable to scientific study.”

It is thought that H. pylori infection can trigger an ulcer by stimulating increased acid production in the stomach, leading to damage to the stomach or intestinal lining.

Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, said: “The work by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren produced one of the most radical and important changes in the last 50 years in the perception of a medical condition.

“Their results led to the recognition that gastric disorders are infectious diseases, and overturned the previous view that they were physiological illnesses.”

An index of the closeminded attitude of most scientists was that it took some fifteen years for the two Australians to win over their community. Not that they cared that much. They knew they were right, and could prove it.

Robin Warren’s first interview after learning of the award immediately got into the subject of their initial rejection:

Joanna Rose (a science writer speaking from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm):

Do you think it means any special responsibilities or any change in the direction of medicine?

– That’s what we did actually … I mean nobody believed that there were bacteria in the stomach until I saw them there. And then it took a long time to convince everybody that they were there. It took about fifteen years before it started appearing in the textbooks.

– I understand. How did that feel – that nobody believed you?

– You know, I didn’t really mind all that much; it was a bit annoying. But I kept on with my work because I knew I was right, because I’d seen them there, you see? The trouble was, I could see them, but other people – unless I showed them to them – they couldn’t see them, you see.

– How could you present your research?

– It’s easy enough to see when you … The thing is that medical … Medicine, before I saw them, was, going by the standard methods of teaching: nothing grew in the stomach – when you swallowed bacteria it was sterilised in the stomach, so it didn’t get through the intestines. Nothing grew in the stomach. And that was something that has been taught to the students for a hundred years.

– And how did you realise that it wasn’t true?

– Well, I saw the bacteria there. That’s all. And once I’d seen them, they were easy to find.

– Did you swallow them?

– No. I didn’t do that – Barry did. Barry swallowed them.

– Barry did it?

– Yes. I was sort of infected so I couldn’t do it. But Barry, he swallowed them to see what happened, and got very bad gastritis.

Here is the whole J. Robin Warren interview, which you can hear at Warren Interview

(show)

– Hello?

– Hello. Is this Robin Warren?

– Speaking.

– Hello. My name is Joanna Rose. I’m calling from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. And we have Web information about Nobel Prizes. Have you seen it?

– I haven’t seen it. But I got a phone call about an hour ago, from Stockholm, about it.

– My congratulations to the Prize …

– It’s only just starting to sink in, so …

– Do you think it’ll have any consequences for the future, for you?

– Well I don’t know about the future. [laughter] I think the future … It just depends what happens – I don’t know.

– Well, I hope you will come to Sweden.

– We’d love to come to Sweden.

– I was thinking about … Do you think it means any special responsibilities or any change in the direction of medicine?

– That’s what we did actually … I mean nobody believed that there were bacteria in the stomach until I saw them there. And then it took a long time to convince everybody that they were there. It took about fifteen years before it started appearing in the textbooks.

– I understand. How did that feel – that nobody believed you?

– You know, I didn’t really mind all that much; it was a bit annoying. But I kept on with my work because I knew I was right, because I’d seen them there, you see? The trouble was, I could see them, but other people – unless I showed them to them – they couldn’t see them, you see.

– How could you present your research?

– It’s easy enough to see when you … The thing is that medical … Medicine, before I saw them, was, going by the standard methods of teaching: nothing grew in the stomach – when you swallowed bacteria it was sterilised in the stomach, so it didn’t get through the intestines. Nothing grew in the stomach. And that was something that has been taught to the students for a hundred years.

– And how did you realise that it wasn’t true?

– Well, I saw the bacteria there. That’s all. And once I’d seen them, they were easy to find.

– Did you swallow them?

– No. I didn’t do that – Barry did. Barry swallowed them.

– Barry did it?

– Yes. I was sort of infected so I couldn’t do it. But Barry, he swallowed them to see what happened, and got very bad gastritis.

– So, he was the study object?

– Well actually, he was one out of the team then, so he did it. And now he’s still working. I’m retired now.

– I think … Is he with you there?

– He’s right here. Just a second. If you want to …

– It would be nice to meet you here in Stockholm in December.

– All right. I’ll pass you over in a minute; he’s on the phone now.

Next interviewed was Barry Marshall, who said this to the science writer, Joanna Rose, calling from the Nobel Foundation:

– Your colleague, Robin Warren, he mentioned to me that nobody really believed you in this at the beginning.

– Well, it’s so entrenched that ulcers are caused by stress; and so, even now in the movies in Hollywood you still see people developing ulcers from stress. But I think most … Well, I suppose people that are educated haven’t heard about these bacteria that cause ulcers. But … it’s not as exciting as it was a few years ago, because so many people now are being cured and you don’t know people with ulcers any more. It’s becoming a rare disease in modern countries, Western countries. But, of course, in a lot of countries it’s still very common.

Not very surprising, perhaps, that Barry sounded a little blase about the whole thing. The couple won the Lasker prize ten years ago (1995) in New York, and that is very often the lead in to the Nobel.

Science’s moral issue

The point to be made is that their experience of battling entrenched teaching is par for the course even when you have such blatantly clear evidence as they had for their novel idea. Most Nobel prize winners tell similar stories of heavy resistance from those who have grown old in a different mental framework. Scientists are no better than anyone else in keeping their imagination from being tyrannized by current notions, it seems.

However, it should be said that they still have no excuse for it. The whole point of professional science is that it should be based on evidence and measurement freed from personal bias, even that of what they all supposedly “know”.

Scientists above all should make a special effort to remain as unprejudiced and objective as they can, especially those who decide who gets funded in science.

When a Nobel gets awarded to those who have survived such distortions of the spirit of science, especially those who have survived and conquered because they practise the art primarily as a vocation, as these two evidently do, it is a great moral victory and empowerment as well as a tribute to accomplishment which benefits mankind.

That is why the Nobel ceremony is often moving as a celebration of courage and integrity, not just scientific distinction.

And why the shame of science is when good men who have great contributions to make get politically defeated and disempowered, as has evidently happened in HIV/AIDS, with Peter Duesberg.

We predict, however, that Duesberg will eventually triumph simply because he has despite all obstacles persevered both in combating bad science in the literature, where his continuing reviews and critiques are permanently published and available, and also in pursuing a new approach to cancer which most objective observers who understand what is going on predict will replace 25 years of taking the wrong turning in that field as well.

Here is Barry’s full interview, which you can listen to at Marshall Live Interview:

(show)

Barry J. Marshall – Interview

Telephone interview with Professor Barry Marshall after the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, October 3, 2005. Interviewer is Joanna Rose, science writer.

– Hello. Barry Marshall here.

– Hello, Barry. This is Joanna Rose from the Nobel Foundation. I’m making a recording for our Web pages.

– Oh, great!

– Congratulations to the Prize.

– Thank you.

– Did you expect it?

– I think … Well, Robin and I often have a beer …

– Yes?

– …down by the riverside at this time of year. But it’s more of a joke, and I think… Of course, it’s funny how things like this are such a surprise, but … I mean, of course, we would always dream about winning the Nobel, but we never really thought we’d … A thing like this, we could say it was an important discovery, but there are so many important things in medicine these days that … I could say that, if we never had won it, it wouldn’t necessarily be a disappointment. It’s just that there are so many other good discoveries out there, and hard workers.

– What does it mean for your work, do you think, now – from now on?

– I think my work’ll be a little bit disrupted. [laughter] But I think there some very exciting projects that I’m doing at the moment, and I think that I have to continue on with those, because that’s where the future of my … That’s where my interest is at the moment; I love doing this work. So it will just create some extra activities for me! So, I’m not sure what’ll happen. I think I’ll just have to float in the breeze, I guess … and see what happens.

– Your colleague, Robin Warren, he mentioned to me that nobody really believed you in this at the beginning.

– Well, it’s so entrenched that ulcers are caused by stress; and so, even now in the movies in Hollywood you still see people developing ulcers from stress. But I think most … Well, I suppose people that are educated haven’t heard about these bacteria that cause ulcers. But … it’s not as exciting as it was a few years ago, because so many people now are being cured and you don’t know people with ulcers any more. It’s becoming a rare disease in modern countries, Western countries. But, of course, in a lot of countries it’s still very common.

– When did you realise that you’d been awarded the Prize?

– Well, when we received a call from Sweden about an hour ago.

– So now you’re celebrating?

– Well, we’re not … We’re being very careful – we’re just having one glass of beer at the moment. And I don’t want to appear on television, intoxicated. Dr Warren and I, we’re very moderate in our activities and, usually, one beer is enough to keep us cheerful.

– For how many years did you make the jokes about the Prize?

– Oh … Well, the first time we … We first had a publication in the Lancet in 1984 …’83 or … it might have been ’83, and we made a joke then: we thought we’d probably win the Prize in 1986. [laughter]

– So it’s just 19 years later – it’s lost it’s kick!

– 19 years later! [more laughter] So we still enjoy it very much, and I visited Sweden a couple of years ago and I’m just looking forward to visiting again so much and showing my wife all the wonderful things we saw there.

– Well, you are so much welcome here. Hope to see you here in December. Thank you very much.

– Oh, yes. Thank you.

– Bye-bye.

– Bye-bye.

© 2005 Nobel Web AB

(show)

J. Robin Warren – Interview

Telephone interview with Dr J. Robin Warren after the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, October 3, 2005. Interviewer is Joanna Rose, science writer.

– Hello?

– Hello. Is this Robin Warren?

– Speaking.

– Hello. My name is Joanna Rose. I’m calling from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm. And we have Web information about Nobel Prizes. Have you seen it?

– I haven’t seen it. But I got a phone call about an hour ago, from Stockholm, about it.

– My congratulations to the Prize …

– It’s only just starting to sink in, so …

– Do you think it’ll have any consequences for the future, for you?

– Well I don’t know about the future. [laughter] I think the future … It just depends what happens – I don’t know.

– Well, I hope you will come to Sweden.

– We’d love to come to Sweden.

– I was thinking about … Do you think it means any special responsibilities or any change in the direction of medicine?

– That’s what we did actually … I mean nobody believed that there were bacteria in the stomach until I saw them there. And then it took a long time to convince everybody that they were there. It took about fifteen years before it started appearing in the textbooks.

– I understand. How did that feel – that nobody believed you?

– You know, I didn’t really mind all that much; it was a bit annoying. But I kept on with my work because I knew I was right, because I’d seen them there, you see? The trouble was, I could see them, but other people – unless I showed them to them – they couldn’t see them, you see.

– How could you present your research?

– It’s easy enough to see when you … The thing is that medical … Medicine, before I saw them, was, going by the standard methods of teaching: nothing grew in the stomach – when you swallowed bacteria it was sterilised in the stomach, so it didn’t get through the intestines. Nothing grew in the stomach. And that was something that has been taught to the students for a hundred years.

– And how did you realise that it wasn’t true?

– Well, I saw the bacteria there. That’s all. And once I’d seen them, they were easy to find.

– Did you swallow them?

– No. I didn’t do that – Barry did. Barry swallowed them.

– Barry did it?

– Yes. I was sort of infected so I couldn’t do it. But Barry, he swallowed them to see what happened, and got very bad gastritis.

– So, he was the study object?

– Well actually, he was one out of the team then, so he did it. And now he’s still working. I’m retired now.

– I think … Is he with you there?

– He’s right here. Just a second. If you want to …

– It would be nice to meet you here in Stockholm in December.

– All right. I’ll pass you over in a minute; he’s on the phone now.

– Hello?

– Hello. Barry Marshall here …

© 2005 Nobel Web AB

Here is the story from the BBC at Nobel for stomach ulcer discovery

(show)

BBC NEWS

Nobel for stomach ulcer discovery

Two Australian scientists have been awarded the Nobel prize for medicine for their discovery that stomach ulcers can be caused by a bacterial infection.

Robin Warren and Barry Marshall showed the bacterium Helicobacter pylori plays a key role in the development of both stomach and intestinal ulcers.

Thanks to their work these ulcers are often no longer a long-term, frequently disabling problem.

They can now be cured with a short-term course of drugs and antibiotics.

In 1982, when H. pylori was discovered by Dr Marshall and Dr Warren, stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of stomach and intestinal ulcers.

Dr Warren, a pathologist from Perth, paved the way for the breakthrough when he discovered that small curved bacteria colonised the lower part of the stomach in about 50% of patients from which biopsies had been taken.

Key observation

He also made the crucial observation that signs of inflammation were always present in the stomach lining close to where the bacteria were seen.

Dr Marshall became interested in the findings and together they initiated a study of biopsies from 100 patients.

After several attempts, Dr Marshall succeeded in cultivating a hitherto unknown bacterial species – H. pylori – from several of these biopsies.

Together they found that the organism was present in almost all patients with gastric inflammation, duodenal ulcer or gastric ulcer.

Even though stomach ulcers could be healed by inhibiting gastric acid production, they frequently relapsed, since bacteria and chronic inflammation of the stomach remained.

Dr Marshall and Dr Warren showed patients could only be properly cured when H. pylori was eradicated from the stomach.

Infected himself

“The work produced one of the most radical and important changes in the last 50 years in the perception of a medical condition” – Lord May of Oxford

Dr Marshall proved that H. pylori caused gastic inflammation by deliberately infecting himself with the bacterium.

The Nobel citation praises the doctors for their tenacity, and willingness to challenge prevailing dogmas.

“By using technologies generally available they made an irrefutable case that the bacterium H. pylori is causing disease.

“By culturing the bacteria they made them amenable to scientific study.”

It is thought that H. pylori infection can trigger an ulcer by stimulating increased acid production in the stomach, leading to damage to the stomach or intestinal lining.

Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, said: “The work by Barry Marshall and Robin Warren produced one of the most radical and important changes in the last 50 years in the perception of a medical condition.

“Their results led to the recognition that gastric disorders are infectious diseases, and overturned the previous view that they were physiological illnesses.”

HELICOBACTER PYLORI

H. pylori is found in the stomach of about 50% of all humans

In developing countries almost everyone is infected

Infection is typically contracted in early childhood, and the bacteria may remain in the stomach for life

In most people there are no symptoms

However, it can trigger ulcers in 10-15% of those infected

It is now firmly established that the bacterium causes more than 90% of duodenal (intestinal) ulcers and up to 80% of gastric (stomach) ulcers.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4304290.stm

Published: 2005/10/03 10:07:26 GMT

© BBC MMV

Here is the New York Times (AP) story Australians Win Nobel Prize in Medicine”>:

(show)

The New York Times

October 3, 2005

Australians Win Nobel Prize in Medicine

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 9:52 a.m. ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for showing that bacterial infection, not stress, was to blame for painful ulcers in the stomach and intestine.

The 1982 discovery transformed peptic ulcer disease from a chronic, frequently disabling condition to one that can be cured by a short regimen of antibiotics and other medicines, the Nobel Prize committee said.

Thanks to their work, it has now been established that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which the new Nobel winners discovered, is the most common cause of peptic ulcers.

”This was very much against prevailing knowledge and dogma because it was thought that peptic ulcer disease was the result of stress and lifestyle,” Staffan Normark, a member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska institute, said at a news conference.

The Australians’ proposal of a microbial cause instead was ”very controversial and unexpected,” said Goran Hansson, who chairs the Nobel committee that awards the medicine or physiology prize. ”They had to spend the first few years convincing the rest of the world.”

Marshall even deliberately infected himself with the bacterium in 1985 and showed that it caused stomach illness, noted Lord May of Oxford, president of Britain’s Royal Society. Marshall suffered inflammation, which can lead to an ulcer.

Marshall, 54, and Warren, 68, celebrated their new honor with champagne and beer.

”Obviously, it’s the best thing that can ever happen to somebody in medical research. It’s just incredible,” Marshall told The Associated Press by telephone from the Western Australia state capital, Perth, where the pair were celebrating with family members.

Warren said he was ”very excited also a little overcome,” at the honor.

”The idea of stress and things like that (causing ulcers) was just so entrenched nobody could really believe that it was bacteria,” Marshall said. ”It had to come from some weird place like Perth, Western Australia, because I think nobody else would have even considered it.”

The discovery has stimulated research into microbes as possible reasons for other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis, the assembly said in its citation.

Warren, a pathologist from Perth, Australia, ”observed small curved bacteria colonizing the lower part of the stomach in about 50 percent of patients from which biopsies had been taken,” the Nobel Assembly said. ”He made the crucial observation that signs of inflammation were always present … close to where the bacteria were seen.”

Marshall became interested in Warren’s findings and together they initiated a study of biopsies from 100 patients.

”After several attempts, Marshall succeeded in cultivating a hitherto unknown bacterial species — later denoted Helicobacter pylori — from several of these biopsies,” the assembly said. ”Together they found that the organism was present in almost all patients with gastric inflammation, duodenal ulcer or gastric ulcer.”

Based on these results, they proposed that Helicobacter pylori was involved in causing these diseases. By culturing the bacterium, they were able to make studying it and the illnesses easier.

”It is now firmly established that Helicobacter pylori causes more than 90 percent of duodenal ulcers and up to 80 percent of gastric ulcers,” the assembly said in its citation.

Marshall is a researcher at the University of Western Australia in Nedlands. Warren retired in 1999 from a pathology position at the Royal Perth Hospital.

The coveted award honoring achievements in medical research opened this year’s series of prize announcements. It will be followed by prizes for physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.

The medicine prize is awarded by the Karolinska institute in Stockholm as stated in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist who founded the prestigious awards in 1895.

The winners were picked by the institute’s Nobel Assembly.

The process for selecting winners is extremely secretive — nominations are kept sealed for 50 years — leaving Nobel-watchers little to go on in their speculation.

The medicine prize includes a check for $1.3 million, a diploma, gold medal and a handshake with the king of Sweden at the award ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

Warren and Marshall are not the first Australians to win a Nobel Prize.

In 1973, Patrick White, the author of ”The Aunt’s Story” and ”The Tree of Man” was awarded the 1973 Nobel Prize in literature.

Other Australian winners include John Warcup Cornforth, who won the chemistry award in 1975, and medicine winners Sir Howard Walter Florey (1945), Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1960), Sir John Carew Eccles (1963) and Peter C. Doherty (1996).

Last year’s laureates, Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck, won for discovering how people can recognize an estimated 10,000 odors — from spoiled meat to a lover’s perfume — and remember them.

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On the Net:

Nobel Foundation: http://www.nobelprize.org

2 Responses to “Nobel for scientists whom dogma rejected”

  1. Marcel Says:

    Truthseeker, when I read about this I wondered if this wasn’t just another example of the microbiological prejudice that biology has, and that maybe it’s just another case of blaming toxic or other problems on a microbe. You are confident this isn’t so? This bacterial cause is proven? I mean REALLY proven?I think the Nobel and all other prizes should be discontinued. How many times have they honored an idiot who was totally wrong, and sent science in the wrong direction, from which it still hasn’t recovered? Too often, IMO.I also would like to know what the mechanism is of Nobel prizes. Who are the advisers? Do they have links to Big Pharma? Does Big Pharma contribute money to the Nobel Prizes?The only way to get science back on the right track is to defund it.

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    Marcel, while I appreciate your skepticism about the motivations of the Nobel committee I cannot easily join you in your wholesale cynicism about science and its prizes. Science in practice is an enormous body of people and their achievements have led to major practical tools and weapons which wouldn’t work if the principles upon which thjey were designed were false. Science in general is clearly on the main track of reality and truth even if sometimes it goes off the rails.

    In this case, although I have not read deeply into this one yet, it would seem to me a priori that they had to get through enough static and ridicule genuinely to have proved their scientific case. I accept this Nobel as going to a simple and practical achievement that for once is irrefutable.

    I think you have to guard against becoming extreme in your slepticism about the claims and motivations of those atop science, just as carefully asyou have to guard against swallowing everything announced in the name of science or medicine.

    It is true that the case pf AIDS seems to have shown that no unfounded claim is too big to become universally believed, but we already knew that from Goebbels. AIDS, however, is an exceptional case, since it was driven by the most powerful government and then drug company politics from the start. And it is a theory that is very difficult to prove false ie that HIV doesn’t have something to do with immune dysfunction is hard to demonstrate, since there are endless Ptolemaic “explanations” to dispense with objections based on standard science.

    Have a look at these two scientists and see if you can’t agree that their work is likely to be genuine. As genuine as, for example, Kary Mullis’s PCR, which has helped free well over 100 falsely accused prisoners, or this year’s Laskers for the Southern blot and genetic fingerprinting.

    “The Lasker Clinical Research Award which is considered by many to be a predictor of future Nobel laureates was awarded to Professor Southern and Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester – who gained his DPhil at Oxford and received an honorary degree from the University in 2004 – for two related breakthroughs which revolutionised human genetics and forensic science. Professor Southern has been honoured for the development of a technique, called Southern blotting, which allows detection of a single gene in a complex genome, eventually enabling the rapid sequencing of entire genomes. This advance fostered Professor Jeffrey’s breakthrough – genetic fingerprinting.”

    These are prizes for concrete achievements with proven merit and huge practical application. Unlike some of the ones in the past, I’ll grant you, such as the Lasker for Gallo, Montagnier and Essex. Please note, however, that the Nobel has not yet gone to that bunch of geniuses, who it must be said nowadays look more like knaves and fools in their photos on this Lasker page here..

    The suspicion that the world is entirely run by knaves and fools is just as naive as the faith it is run entirely by heroic idealists. But in this case I’d say the awardees are heroic idealists for sure, even if the prize was awarded by a committee of knaves and fools, which the Nobel committee occasionally may be.

    “The Politics of Excellence: Behind the Nobel prize in Science” by Robert Marc Friedman is one book I use as a pretty good history of the way things work behind the scenes in Stockholm. The story of how much trouble they had awarding Einstein a prize for anything, let alone Relativity (they never did for that), is a classic tale of closed versus open minds.

    That said, the influence of drug companies on Nobels may well be felt through the fact that the prize is award partly with the guidance and input of previous Nobelists, who include more than one knave who likes to play politics behind the scenes. The man we are thinking of once sent a venomous letter behind the back of a colleague to everyone else in his university, and the colleague didn’t discover its existence for a year.

    The whole topic is worth a post in itself. The important point to be made on this site is that we are not arguing that all of science is a corrupt mess. We are simply saying that the gold standard of science is the most severely tested literature, and it is that that should be the guide for journalists and even science critics, not the personal reassurances of individual scientists which escape peer review.

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