Science Corruption techniques

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This stub is a work-in-progress by the journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to


This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The techniques used by researchers, pollsters and scientists in the pay of any industry (or ideology) to distort scientific research findings are manifold. But some general principles apply to the way they cover up the financial and other influences. This is an attempt to categorise the many techniques which have been discovered through trolling the tobacco industry archives.

We'd welcome additions. (still in early stages of development)

Disclosure of Influences

No disclosure of funding source

It is amazing how many so-called research findings find their way into the media either through press releases, or through direct discussions with journalists, where the media haven't asked the most obvious question: who funded this study, and why?

Disclosure of pseudo organisation funding

Philip Morris, for instance, had dozens of pseudo organisations which could be used as fronts for so-called research.

Disclosure of Captured Organisation Funding

Certain sections of industry can always be guaranteed to provide support, and these divisions often have their own publications.

Disclosure of think-tank funding

The (mostly) Libertarian think-tanks linked together globally via the Atlas Network (Mt Pelerin Society, Institute of Economic Affairs, Fraser Institute, Institute of Humane Studies and about 200 more around the world) would provide money laundry services for any large commericial organisation, and the tobacco industry made full use of their services. Some of them had their own publications, but generally they would simply claim to be the sponsor of the research.

Umbrella Organisation funding

Tobacco Industry Control of Publications

Fully owned and controlled scientific publications

An unknown (but significant) number of scientific and medical journals were controlled by the tobacco industry in various ways.

  1. Ownership of the publication
  2. Direct funding of the publication supposedly produced by a pseudo organisation
  3. Direct funding of the publication in the hands of a more legitimate and compliant society.

Fully owned and controlled general publications

They also owned, influence and controlled a number of general media outlets which acted to amplify and publicised the so-called scientific claims.

  • The Saturday Review magazine was owned and controlled by Philip Morris, using the front of Eton Road Publishers. It was actually run by Nixon aide Frank Gannon and lawyer/lobbyist Paul Dietrich -- and when it was sold (the venture wasn't a success) they continued their employment contract with the cigarette company by producing the Philip Morris Magazine, a free glossy magazine designed for waiting rooms.

Personal funding to journal editor

The editor as a part-time contractor was also a way to exert influence in a scientific or medical journal.

  • Professor Roger Perry of Imperial College London owned and controlled a couple of air-quality publications.
Nancy Balter of the IAPAG group (Georgtown University) served on the Editorial Board of the London-based Environmental Technology Letters, a peer reviewed scientific journal, which was controlled (one document says 'owned') by another enthusiastic tobacco consultant, Professor Roger Perry.
  • W Kip Viscusi, an economist with a number of universities, was Editor of a surprising number of magazines in the area of Risk Assessment.

Bolstering Credibility

Named organisations willing to aid

Some fairly credible semi-scientific organisations appear to offer a home to anyone who can pay, or who has an organisation willing to fund the residency. The scientist is then able to use the status as a 'fellow' of the institute, etc.

University chairs

Some universities will allow industries or corporations to fund a chair and nominate who will occupy the seat. This is generally dependent on some credible scientist being chosen, and they must be willing to give some lectures and seminars -- but otherwise their time is their own. The result is a "Professor" status attached to the name of a second-rate scientist making most of his money from industry and churning out the odd propaganda piece, and appearing occasionally as a witness in some hearing or court case.

=Cash-for-comment networks

The tobacco industry ran a couple of major cash-for-comment networks among academics in US universities. The most notorious was the Cash-for-Comments Economists Network run by Robert D Tollison out of George Mason University, with the administration of James Savarese. They ran a group of about 40 to 50 Libertarian/Public Choice professors of economics, generally one in each State University. Because of turn-over about 130 professors took tobacco money over the years. They were given instructions t create newspaper op-eds on various specified topics on a regular basis, and paid generously if they managed to plant them on their local newspapers.


Peer Review is supposed to protect the society from false and misleading scientific and medical discoveries. Politicians appear to put a lot of trust behind the claim that a magazine is been peer-reviewed, and therefore the contents are therefore accepted as worthy by the scientific discipline concerned. There are many problems with this:

  • The editor chooses the scientists to conduct the peer review ... and is the editor to be trusted.
  • Was the article actually peer-reviewed?
  • In some scientific and semi-scientific disciplines (such as indoor air-quality testing, Risk Assessment, nicotine addiction, etc) the pool of experts available for peer-review is very limited. In some cases, the majority may be working for companies concerned.

Fake Credentials

Gio B Gori was fired by the National Cancer Institute for having collaborated with the Tobacco Working Group (industry scientists) and set up the Health Policy Institute. Later he listed his credentials as President International Center for Toxicology and Pharmacology. On the surface, this appears to be a genuine organisation until you examine the office holders. They were successively tobacco industry scientific lobbyists - John P Frawley W Gary Flamm and Gio B Gori etc. The ICEP published a journal also.