Peer-Review – The gold standard for scientific proof or gold standard for Bias and conflict of interest?

In the pinned post on the Common Sense Keto group I speak to people who love to throw out the old “Show me one peer-reviewed study” argument trying to prove you wrong. Well today I am going to show why peer-review is not in any way shape or form proof of anything and how it is more biased than most other forms of research.

Lets run quickly though the scientific process.

You run a lab and do some experiments. You write a paper about these experiments and the findings. Now of course you want to get the paper published because in the research world, the more papers you get published the more recognized you become and the more grant money you get to fund more experiments. The cycle of life for a research facility. You go online to the various Journals and submit your paper with the online form. During the online submission you select a group of scientific buddies, termed “experts” or “colleagues” – usually people you have met at conferences and have befriended over the years – and these buddies take on the duty of reviewing your paper. Essentially you tell the journal who you want to review your paper and they actually use these names. Why not. True story.

The reviewers, your peers who you recommend, have 3 options. They can approve the paper, suggest modification or outright reject the paper. Since your future grant money depends on the publishing of this paper who are you going to “recommend” to review your paper? People that share your bias or people who might reject it? Doesn’t sound biased at all now does it? Did I mention that the reviewers are well aware who wrote the paper? This is totally not predisposed to conflict of interest is it? They say that it is necessary to have the writer’s name on the paper and to allow the reviewers to know who it is so that it allows them to recognize the researchers credentials and history. Yeah that is probably why.

Essentially the peer review process is similar to the high school essay writing process. If the teacher has any sort of dislike for you, look forward to a crappy grade but if you are a teacher’s pet, A + all the way. Sounds legit to me.

Not only do you have to be aware of the bias and conflict of interest in the way of the researcher choosing their own reviewers, you have to worry about the journalistic spin and industry influence on research.

From the former editor and chief of the New England Journal of Medicine after quitting the journal:

“I witnessed first hand the influence of industry on medical research during my two decades at the journal. The staple of the journal is research about causes and treatments of disease. Increasingly, work is sponsored by drug companies. I saw companies begin to exercise a level of control over the way research is done that was unheard of when I first came to the journal, and the aim was clearly to load the dice to make sure their products looked good.”

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of great research done but keep in mind that everyone has an agenda when writing scientific papers. There is one key concept that should help you determine if a paper is credible.

If a study is favorable and positive regarding something that can be bought or sold, be wary!

Now if you think that this is my opinion, it isn’t. This all comes from Dr. Anthony Jay. He is a PH.D and is also the president of the International Medical Research Collaborative. This comes from his experience in research and publication of numerous studies both privately and publicly funded.

There is a Doctor by the name of Dr. Marion Nestle, no relation to the Nestle food company, who is collecting scientific studies that are industry funded that show conflicts of interest. She is compiling them and writing assessments on each to show where the conflict is. Of the 168 studies she has so far collected only 12 of them are unfavorable towards the company’s product. That doesn’t sound fishy at all.

Here is another example of how studies are massively flawed. The Bayer company did a study where they took a massive amount of studies, so a study of studies, and attempted to reproduce the results of these studies using the exact parameters laid out by the original study team. They found that the science journal’s results did not match up to their in house replications more than 75% of the time!!!

So in essence, before you start trying to use “peer-review” as the gold standard of science and trying to use your journal published study to prove your point, remember to think about agendas. Does the article have something to gain by being less than forth coming? Is there a product that hinges on the preferable outcome of the study? In essence, use Common Sense when looking at these studies. Just because they were reviewed by “peers” does not mean they are any type of validation. It simply means that people with the same bias as the writer read them and agreed. That is not proof. That is conflict of interest.

If they really wanted true proof they would find people in direct disagreement with the hypothesis to review the paper. That would validate it.

Keto ON!

Coach Jack

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2 Replies to “Peer-Review – The gold standard for scientific proof or gold standard for Bias and conflict of interest?”

  1. I do not totally disagree , but this argument has inaccuracies. Not to argue, but just so you are aware I will make it short…. 1- not all research is done in a lab. Often the research I carry out (and many others) is in the field and the papers I publish reflect that. 2- I know of very little crediable journal articles that let you choose your reviewing team. They are often single blind but more often, double blind. Meaning, either they don’t see your name and affiliation or you can’t see theirs. Most of the time it’s both. As a matter of fact it there is any identifiable markers, you are automatically rejected. What you are referring too is open peer review and is not very creditable in the academic world. I think this is your argument . Either way , as you mentioned research can be done right and so can peer review. It’s a system that is set to keep inaccurate research from making it to publication. It doesn’t always work and it’s not always the best system, but I would never totally disregard it! If anything it is a point of reference to start a conversation and debate. Remember, The point of research is to find a way to reject it. It is the job of a scientist. Not to prove anything. hope this helps

    1. Well according to Dr. Jay, who has published a vast amount of papers and dedicated an entire chapter in his book Estrogeneration on this subject, this happens more often than not.

      If the goal is to keep inaccurate information from making it to publication it is failing miserably. As I stated in the article, Bayer company failed to reproduce the results of trials published in prestigious journals 75% of the time. This seems like a petty flawed job.

      The true point of science is to prove your theory wrong but unfortunately proving yourself wrong does not award you with many grants and when most studies are industry funded, proving the product to be harmful will not aid you in securing any future funding. The point of research is to employ scientists and to keep labs running and all the good science in the world won’t make that happen if the lab is not publishing things that people are wanting to see.

      I think you may have some rose colored glasses on.

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