Transparency: ad rem

For more than a decade I have been an advocate for, and campaigned for, full transparency of competing financial interests for scientists, academics and healthcare workers. Without such, it is my view that fully informed consent to any intervention is an impossible ambition.

Over the time of my advocacy I have met with defensive reactions from many professionals in relation to scientific transparency. Not infrequently, general inquiries have been met with the accusation that to ask about competing financial interests is “ad hominem”.

I have responded that the issue of transparency is not ad hominem, it is ad rem.

Transparency is key.

3 Replies to “Transparency: ad rem”

  1. I recently came across an interesting 2016 article pointing out that the ‘campaigning charity’ Sense about Science has been active for years in promoting the ‘ad hominem’ view.

    https://theintercept.com/2016/11/15/how-self-appointed-guardians-of-sound-science-tip-the-scales-toward-industry/

    The article argues that SaS’s key message is (my paraphrase) ‘academic peer review is so effective and robust that funding biases do not matter’. Also that SaS developed over the last two decades as, to some extent, a front for industry interests.

    SaS runs the John Maddox prize, whose past recipients include psychiatrists Simon Wessely (2012) and David Nutt (2013), both of whom are well known to Peter’s regular readers.

    In this Twitter thread (from the last few days) SaS states the article was ‘inaccurate’, but it appears not to have insisted on any factual corrections: https://twitter.com/NMacFa/status/1174976842505187329?s=20

    SaS has also stated ‘our funding is fully published in our annual review’, but this appears false as up to £130,000 of its funding was ‘anonymous’. That would be more than 20%. ‘https://senseaboutscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/SaS_Review_1718_Final_interactive-1.pdf

    More from me about SaS in due course.

  2. You continue to inspire me with your quest for transparency, dear Peter. As you know, I’ve been on a quest for transparency, among other things, in the dementia space, with little if any traction. And the defensiveness, oft times, even bullying has been ongoing. I’m now also being actively denied invitations to events or Round Table meetings as the highly funded advocacy organisations attempt to ‘create’ their evidence on the Dementia Friendly initiatives! I guess they hope I’ll just go away…

    1. Thank you Kate. I have had the same experience. There is so much defensiveness about often then followed by unethical actions such as marginisation, attempts to discredit and sometimes even gas-lighting.

      I do less on the dementia side these days but have faced the consequences of asking questions to Professor Rob Howard. He has not been kind to me and has ‘put out there’ statements that might be attributed to me and seemingly to discredit. Ironically he is now taking credit for timely diagnosis et al.

      https://holeousia.com/2019/08/28/unsavoury-and-nuisance-e-mails/

      aye Peter

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