A paper that made extravagant weight loss claims for green coffee beans has been retracted. This study had been touted by Dr Oz, of course — no fraud is to ludicrous for him — and rebutted by Scott Gavura, and I’m generally suspicious of any dietary supplement that promises weight loss without reducing calories or increasing exercise. But there’s one bit that surprised me. The study was done in India by a guy named Mysore Nagendran, and it was sponsored by Applied Food Sciences, Inc. (AFS), the company trying to exploit this Miracle Weight Loss Supplement. They couldn’t get it published, so…
The FTC charges that the study’s lead investigator repeatedly altered the weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the length of the trial, and misstated which subjects were taking the placebo or GCA during the trial. When the lead investigator was unable to get the study published, the FTC says that AFS hired researchers Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham at the University of Scranton to rewrite it. Despite receiving conflicting data, Vinson, Burnham, and AFS never verified the authenticity of the information used in the study, according to the complaint.
Whoa. They brought in a couple of American ronin to rewrite and publish the story? I’m an innocent; I can’t imagine this. If someone told me they had a pile of data I had no part in generating, could I please write the paper so it’s publishable, I’d say no way, and I can’t imagine an inducement that would persuade me.
Which makes me wonder: were these guys paid to do this? Or was the incentive the privilege of getting a first-authorship on research that they didn’t do?