Companies underwrite a good deal of scientific research, and society often benefits from it. But bonafide scientific research demands a high degree of scientific integrity to ensure that results derive from the evidence, and not from a desire to meet a predetermined, non-scientific objective. People who have a financial stake in research outcomes should not publish in scientific journals without full and clear disclosure of conflicts of interest—especially when the results involve the safety or effectiveness of a company’s products.
To understand how “the Fake” works, read the examples, including the one about how Georgia-Pacific knowingly planted counterfeit science studies in legitimate science journals to try to undermine understanding of the lethal health risks posed by its former asbestos-containing product.
To evade these standards, some companies choose to manufacture counterfeit science—planting ghostwritten articles in legitimate scientific journals, selectively publishing positive results while underreporting negative results, or commissioning scientific studies with flawed methodologies biased toward predetermined results. These methods undermine the scientific process—and as our case studies show, they can have serious public health and safety consequences.