Steve LaTulippe MD
Living in the Orwellian age of 2021 demands that we reconsider things that were once thought to be valid symbols of truth. One such banner is the peer-reviewed medical journal article. Once regarded as a reliable standard of integrity in reporting medical data or new research, the peer review process must now be seriously questioned.
In the process of my recent administrative court hearings, the legal defense for the Oregon Medical Board (OMB) religiously introduced each medical journal article submitted for evidence as being authentic because it had been peer-reviewed. How nice. How fit and proper to cite peer review as a validation of the content as being “real science.” The only problem is that a presumption of this kind is far from true.
Peer review is only as good as the integrity of the author’s “peers”. Proof of this reality can be seen by looking at the ever-increasing retractions of published articles in recent years. Retracted articles from major medical journals and esteemed medical sources including NIH, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and others triggers justifiable suspicion among readers. A disturbing number of retractions occur not because of honest errors or duplicate publications, but from blatant fraud, overwhelming bias, gross errors in judgment and data, and serious ethical concerns. Add to this the number of corrections and “revisions,” and you might rightly become suspect of every article you read.
As reported by Fox News on June 4, 2020, both the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine faced severe criticism for publishing “controversial COVID-19 papers,” the controversy involving misinformation, fraud, and lack of scientific integrity. So harsh was the backlash that both papers retracted the articles. The Lancet also retracted a false study stating the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was dangerous and of no benefit in treating COVID-19. Wrong! Likewise, the number of retracted cancer studies are astounding. For a sampling of these, take a look at a comprehensive database on retracted scientific articles posted on retractionwatch.com.
The harm done by politically motivated medical journals, scientists, and physicians, is immeasurable. Americans must become aware that the mention of an article as being peer-reviewed, in this age of deception, offers little or no credibility to the article. Having previously done research in the field of microbiology, I have firsthand knowledge that scientific data can be easily manipulated by the researcher who has an agenda. Politics, money, and power can all shape the outcome of a study.
When physicians depend on the quality of well-designed randomized control trials as a basis for medical practice, they must be certain of scientific honesty and test validity. These research standards are critical for providing the best care to our patients. Sadly, many lesser quality peer-reviewed studies have slipped past the validity and integrity tests, causing much harm and division in the medical community. When the NEJM can get away with writing an article titled Failed Assignments—Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates (N Eng J Med 2020; 383:2399-2401), one has to ask, what benefit is peer review? There is no scientific merit in such an essay.
The fact is that many medical journals are run by liberal/Leftist leaning scholars who seem incapable of keeping their personal politics out of the science they are sharing. Medicine has proven itself a phenomenal tool in the commandeering of the gullible minds of the masses who desperately hope to protect their health. The circuit breaker of cognitive reasoning has been tripped by a surge of fear in the world’s population. The American prototype of independent thinkers is on trial. As with authority, I remind everyone to question the source and integrity, the political agenda, and the scientific message of the peer review.