The main purpose of science is to question and attack. To subject ideas to the greatest scrutiny. Those who decide to shut down and stifle debate – whatever they may believe themselves to be doing – are, in fact, traitors to the cause of science. Stranglers of the enlightenment, assassins of progress.
They are not alone, and things have gotten far worse in the past year or so. Science has taken a terrible battering during Covid-19, though I have always known that dissent against a widely held scientific hypothesis is difficult.
There have been at least seven peer-reviewed studies which look at the question of lockdowns from a data point of view, and all of them come to the same basic conclusion: lockdowns do not have a statistically significant relationship with Covid cases or deaths. Here is a list of them with a key quote for ease of reference.
- “Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.” “Did Lockdown Work? An Economist’s Cross-Country Comparison” by Christian Bjørnskov. CESifo Economic Studies March 29th, 2021.
- “Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.” “Covid-19 Mortality: A Matter of Vulnerability Among Nations Facing Limited Margins of Adaptation” by Quentin De Larochelambert, Andy Marc, Juliana Antero, Eric Le Bourg, and Jean-François Toussaint. Frontiers in Public Health, November 19th, 2020.
- “Lockdowns do not reduce COVID-19 deaths.” “Government mandated lockdowns do not reduce Covid-19 deaths: implications for evaluating the stringent New Zealand response” by John Gibson. New Zealand Economic Papers, August 25th, 2020.
- “While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs.” “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19” by Eran Bendavid, Christopher Oh, Jay Bhattacharya, John P.A. Ioannidis. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, January 5th, 2021.
- “Previous studies have claimed that shelter-in-place orders saved thousands of lives, but we reassess these analyses and show that they are not reliable. We find that shelter-in-place orders had no detectable health benefits, only modest effects on behaviour, and small but adverse effects on the economy.” “Evaluating the effects of shelter-in-place policies during the COVID-19 pandemic” by Christopher R. Berry, Anthony Fowler, Tamara Glazer, Samantha Handel-Meyer, and Alec MacMillen, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, April 13th, 2021.
- “We were not able to explain the variation of deaths per million in different regions in the world by social isolation, herein analysed as differences in staying at home, compared to baseline. In the restrictive and global comparisons, only 3% and 1.6% of the comparisons were significantly different, respectively.” “Stay-at-home policy is a case of exception fallacy: an internet-based ecological study,” by R. F. Savaris, G. Pumi, J. Dalzochio & R. Kunst. Scientific Reports (Nature), March 5th, 2021.
- “Full lockdowns and wide-spread COVID-19 testing were not associated with reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality.” “A country level analysis measuring the impact of government actions, country preparedness and socioeconomic factors on COVID-19 mortality and related health outcomes” by Rabail Chaudhry, George Dranitsaris, Talha Mubashir, Justyna Bartoszko, Sheila Riazi. EClinicalMedicine (The Lancet) 25 (2020) 100464, July 21st, 2020.
None of this, however, explains the 40 years of medical
misinformation and suppression of the pharmaceutical truth.
To have covered up the knowledge for four decades that
viruses could potentially be treated by antimicrobials required
• Censorship. It is likely that some scientists were never
published again after authoring one paper on the antiviral benefits of CQ.
• Buying silence of news media. This is evident from the
blackout across the political news spectrum concerning
vaccine adverse effects. Pharmaceutical manufacturers
provide the most lucrative advertising for both written
and broadcast news programs.
• Misdirection. For years, pharmacology professors in
medical schools have perpetuated lies of omission.
• Lies by drug companies. Merck was caught publishing its
own “peer reviewed” journal to promote its drugs.54
• Regulatory capture. “Big Pharma” essentially owns the
FDA by being its biggest funder and employing more
than 58 percent of the FDA’s upper-level regulators and
administrators either before or after their tenure.55,56
• Research funding. Big Pharma is the major funder of
nearly all “independent” drug research, and there is no
incentive to research cheap/ less profitable solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is calling attention to the
potential for treating viral diseases with currently available
drugs, and exposing long-available but ignored research.
The implications of all this are very disturbing. Where have
the virologists been, and the CDC “experts” who claim to care
about influenza deaths? Has the burgeoning nearly trilliondollar vaccine industry been built at the expense of patients’
Many clinical research studies, even in the major general medical journals, do not satisfy the identifiable features that make them useful. These features include:
- problem base;
- context placement;
- information gain;
- patient centeredness;
- value for money;
Most clinical research findings false. Further, most of the true findings do not result in huge human benefit. Reform and improvement in the clinical research are overdue.
See also: Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals by Richard Smith at the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Quoted summary points
Blue-sky research cannot be easily judged on the basis of practical impact, but clinical research is different and should be useful. It should make a difference for health and disease outcomes or should be undertaken with that as a realistic prospect.
Many of the features that make clinical research useful can be identified, including those relating to problem base, context placement, information gain, pragmatism, patient centeredness, value for money, feasibility, and transparency.
Many studies, even in the major general medical journals, do not satisfy these features, and very few studies satisfy most or all of them. Most clinical research therefore fails to be useful not because of its findings but because of its design.
The forces driving the production and dissemination of nonuseful clinical research are largely identifiable and modifiable.
Reform is needed. Altering our approach could easily produce more clinical research that is useful, at the same or even at a massively reduced cost.
So peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works. Nevertheless, it is likely to remain central to science and journals because there is no obvious alternative, and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief.