Alzheimer’s Might Not Actually Be a Brain Disease

In July 2022, Science magazine reported that that a key 2006 research paper, published in the prestigious journal Nature, which identified a subtype of brain protein called beta-amyloid as the cause of Alzheimer’s, may have been based on fabricated data.

Empahasis mine.

I’m so mad, I could spit. The dire problems with the chronic fatigue paper that caused millions — literally millions — of people to be treated with completely ineffective treatments — the horribly invalid “studies” on that topic — was a turning point for me. It ought to have been a turning point for the editorial boards of all major medical journals.

Emphasis mine.

Here’s more about the faked Alzheimer’s data.

If you have someone close to you suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, then I personally suggest you look at the possible connection between the gut and Alzheimer’s. One of the quick, easy, harmless things you could try is a high-fiber diet. This is pure correlation and for all we know (a) it’s statistical noise, or (b) some other factor is responsible and the dietary link is illusory. But as the downsides to a high-fiber diet are minimal as far as I know, why not?

Of course, for all we know, the apparent connection between gut health and Alzheimer’s is also based on faked data! How is anyone supposed to tell?

For crying out loud, I’m so furious whenever I trip YET AGAIN over fraudulent medical data, I hardly know what to say.

So I’ll quote Ryo, speaking to Tano:

I wish to be confident that I may trust what you say. Once that confidence is lost, it is very difficult to recover. That is why you should cherish your honor, not discard it for a momentary advantage. Perhaps someone has taught you otherwise. They were wrong.

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7 thoughts on “Outrageous”

  1. I try to remind myself that retractions are the system working as intended, however slowly–that the bad data ARE being caught… Though really, they should have been caught before being published! It’s extremely frustrating, especially as someone who has gone through the whole system and seen how slowly everything moves. I’m sure you can relate to that too from your time as a masters student. Really I think we need a better system for reviewing articles, but what that system would look like, I’m not sure. At the very least we need more data transparency, which I am happy to see more journals doing, including ones I have published in and provided my data for.

  2. I agree that data transparency is key. Every journal that does not require total data transparency ought to be regarded as barely half a step above the National Enquirer. I am not kidding.

    If I were in charge, I would be doing random spot-checks of published studies, which I would announce loud and clear. Your article has, say, a one in twenty chance of being chosen for a close reading looking for fraud, egregious error, plagiarism, or wildly stupid or deliberately misleading experimental design. If any of the above is found, that would be published, with a retraction, and the names of peer reviewers who passed the article published alongside the retraction.

    Real study? My journal is the one. Fake “study”? Submit elsewhere.

  3. I like it. A system like that would make me feel a lot better about the fees we pay to publish too!

  4. More anonymous than usual

    I’ve been waiting to hear something like this! I had a friend who was working in a (different) Alzheimer’s lab and couldn’t reproduce a (different) amyloid-beta paper, and I’ve been suspicious about the whole thing ever since. Neuroscience as a whole is due for a serious reckoning, poor experimental design and statistical practice is totally rampant even among people who are trying their best and would never intentionally falsify data.

  5. There is a LOT of truly crappy experimental design, especially in medicine, and it needs to be called out and stopped.

  6. Replication crisis

    What they really need is a system that rewards replications as well as it does original results.

  7. Credibility is like virginity. Once you lose it, you can’t get it back.

    Studies like this, and their retractions, tend to make a lot of people I know throw their hands up and decide that all scientists everywhere are wrong about everything. I had one relative tell me, quite seriously, “You know, you can’t catch Covid from someone you know. Not a relative, anyway.”

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