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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14623

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Go RS.
Issues Behind Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest
JAMA 2008 Dec 12; 300:(18):


To the Editor: In their Commentary, Drs Cain and Detsky1 discussed that conflicts of interest are more likely to result from unintentional bias rather than intentional bias, based on studies of human psychology. This underscores the need for full disclosure of conflicts of interests among researchers, even physicians. The Commentary considered the study by Cain et al2 that suggested that full disclosure may have the opposite effect of making professionals more biased. However, the primary purpose of disclosure is not to make researchers less biased; it is to inform readers and the public of potential bias so that they can make their own judgments on the credibility of the information presented.

In addition, it is likely that not all financial conflicts of interest are equal when it comes to introduction of bias. The higher the monetary value involved, the more likely that bias may be introduced. After all, this is . . .


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909