NIEHS stonewalls on EPA researcher misconduct

NIEHS director Linda Birnbaum spends her integrity covering up for EPA researchers and Environmental Health Perspectives editor Hugh Tilson.

Click for our letter requesting Birnbaum to investigate Tilson’s failure to take action against EPA researcher misconduct.

Click for Birnbaum’s response to JunkScience.com.

Below is our response to Birnbaum.

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BY FAX

June 28, 2012

Ms. Linda Birnbaum
Director
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
111 T.W. Alexander Dr.
Bldg. 101, Room B240
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Re: Request for Investigation of Scientific Misconduct

Dear Dr. Birnbaum,

Although I thank you for your June 21, 2012 response to my request for an investigation into research misconduct, I am disappointed by your transparent effort to obfuscate the facts and dodge responsibility.

First, I did not challenge the mere publication of the case report, as your letter implies. I challenged the falsification of the case report — a challenge that Environmental Health Perspectives editor Dr. Hugh Tilson and, now, you refuse to substantively address.

I will note, however, that case reports are generally published in strictly medical journals, like those you cite — the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association — not general environmental science journals like Environmental Health Perspectives. In any event and as you very well know, case reports are per se anecdotal and medical — not scientific — in nature.

And since three of the case report’s authors are physicians, I imagine the explanation for the case report not even being submitted to a medical journal is that competent peer review would likely have ferreted out this fraud-on-the-public.

Next, and without further explanation, you simply state, “In my opinion, the authors of this case report did not omit data or results.”

But as the case report concludes that PM2.5 may cause supraventricular fibrillation, it was incumbent upon the researchers to disclose that there were 40 other patients participating in the very same experiment whose results all contradicted that conclusion.

The omission of those data, insofar as they are materially relevant to the case report’s conclusion, constitutes the research misconduct of falsification, as that term is defined by federal regulations.

There would be no issue of research misconduct had the researchers at least acknowledged the existence and nature of the data from the 40 other human subjects. We could then fairly disagree about the conclusion had all the data been fairly presented.

But the inexplicable falsification of the research record makes your assertion — i.e., “the manuscript accurately represented the research record for this case study” — patently absurd.

Finally, as to your claim that the case report “received rigorous scientific review prior to publication,” the reviewers (like readers) were axiomatically deceived by the manuscript’s omission (falsification) of relevant data. It’s too bad that we can’t publicly poll the reviewers to see whether they are of the same “opinion” as you.

Sincerely,

/s/

Steve Milloy
Publisher

5 thoughts on “NIEHS stonewalls on EPA researcher misconduct”

  1. I agree, good work, Mr. Malloy. bill10526, one would be foolish to think that the EPA has EVER practiced “science” as we know it, and that scares the hell out of me, as it is used to influence and control my life.

  2. Apparently, something is more important than reputation over at Environmental Health Perspectives. What could it be?

    It looks like the journal — which publishes articles online for free — is on the US government payroll. As long as they keep their budget, it’s all good. And of course they don’t want to criticize government scientists. Budgets are vulnerable things.

  3. Seriously, this is embarassing. How can doctors publish reports that would not be accepted if submitted by elementary schoolers? I knew that you always included all your data back in 3rd grade when comparing different types of potting soil. The fact that these are research professionals with doctoral degrees yet they made such overt and stupid mistakes is a sad reflection on the state of science.

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