This is incredible. On a scale of 0-10 WTFs this is a 10.
From the most recent episode of Daniel Griffin’s COVID-19 Clinical Update on TWIV [twiv]@29.28:
We had some very disturbing news. Right, so: This is the time for monitoring and monoclonals, not the time for antibiotics. There was a bit of drama because a pre-print that had been posted suggesting that a randomized controlled trial demonstrated a 90% reduction in mortality in Ivermectin-treated patients may have been something that never happened.
A London medical student named Jack Lawrence was the Woodward and Bernstein of this story, if people remember All The President’s Men and he was investigating this pre-print and he discovered, initially, that the introductory section of the document appeared to have been almost entirely plagiarized and then run through a thesaurus program. And, it appears that the authors – they pulled entire paragraphs out of press releases and web sites about Ivermectin and then they changed these key words. The data appears to have been completely falsified, the tables in the article are mathematically impossible… Apparently the study never happened – they just invented the study, invented the data, and put it out there – really just a case of scientific fraud.
You know, this data was part of a lot of these meta-analyses where people were saying “Ivermectin looks so promising” and “It’s a crime against humanity that we’re not using it when there’s this study with a 90% mortality reduction” My hope is that all the people that embraced Ivermectin and are using it based on this kind of data will re-think their position and embrace the importance of honest, scientific investigation.
Now if someone is passionate about Ivermectin and they want to know – don’t just make up data. Don’t just invent a study.
That is shocking. Someone decided to do that, deliberately, knowing it was a bunch of lies that people were going to listen to and take very seriously. Some people may have pursued the Ivermectin avenue and been less strenuous about isolating and masking up, and gotten COVID-19 because of the fake article.
A deeper problem is revealed: the forces of ignorance and disinformation have realized that the scientific standard of “publication in a peer-reviewed journal” is a target for attack. In computer security terms [where I lived my life] we’d say “the trust model is broken” Once the attacker gets inside your trust boundary, they have mooted the very purpose of having a trust boundary in the first place. It totally makes sense for an attacker to attack your trust model because, if they succeed, they have taken over the system and it can no longer be relied upon to behave the way it was formerly expected to. Bullshit artists, creationists, anti-vaxxers, and other random assholes, have suborned the system. We can pat ourselves on the back and say, “the system is self-correcting! See, someone did catch it!” but it’s not self-correcting – it’s error-detecting. In this case, science has (arguably) detected that some garbage was injected into the system, but the garbage will not be “corrected” until it has been completely removed and everyone whose mind was poisoned by it has adjusted their belief systems. A good case in point is Andrew Wakefield’s fabrications: a lot of people haven’t been reached by the “delete that: Wakefield totally made all that up” message, so there is a “knowledge-base” out there that are ignorant and don’t know it.
The Scientific Method is a great epistemological tool, but it doesn’t fare any better than anything else in an environment that is saturated with disinformation. What do we do? What is the rational response? Well, if we were computer security people, we’d say that the root of our trust hierarchy was corrupted and therefore none of it is trustable, anymore. I’m not advocating that we throw science out the window, but this is a very uncool situation and we need to be skeptical of scientific “results” and not just accept “peer reviewed data” – sorry, scientists, but your gold standard turns out to be gold painted balsa wood. It particularly calls into question meta-analyses built on foundations of bullshit.
Why does someone do this? Is this just common-or-garden variety sociopathy? Is some asshole having a bad day and decided to spread their pain? I can’t think of any reason that makes sense except that, perhaps, some jerkwad is preparing a paper about how easy it is to defeat science’s trust model.