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Webinar Science and Life

Fighting fake science: Barriers and solutions

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Fighting fake science: Barriers and solutions

Recorded 26 February 2019


It is no secret that science has come under increasingly derisive attacks in recent years. There are those who view science as being inconsistent, untrustworthy, and even unethical. The findings by some researchers revealing that many published experiments cannot be easily repeated—prompting the so-called reproducibility crisis—have further fueled this narrative and led to serious concerns about wasteful spending on bioscience research. Recent media reports about the gene-editing experiments performed on human embryos by rogue Chinese scientist He Jiankui have given rise to fears that science operates with lax ethics. On the flip side, scientists face overwhelming pressure to publish and win grants, creating an atmosphere in which ethical and scientific standards are being squeezed to the breaking point. Although science provides enormous value to society, this message is often drowned out by the negative press, a situation made more critical when solid science is depicted as fake and fake science as real.

This webinar attacks the issue of fake science head-on, examining what can be done to combat bad science and how good science can be encouraged and promoted. The expert panel will discuss solutions to counteract fake science and explore how the scientific community can better communicate truth over falsehood.

Speaker bios

Ivan Oransky, M.D.

New York University
New York, NY

Dr. Oransky is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, where he has taught medical reporting in the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program since 2002, and vice president for editorial at Medscape. He is cofounder of Retraction Watch, a website that reports on scientific integrity, fraud, and other issues. He was previously global editorial director of MedPage Today, executive editor of Reuters Health, and held editorial positions at Scientific American and The Scientist. A clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University, Oransky has also taught at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, and has written for publications ranging from Nature to The New York Times. He currently serves as president of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Richard Harris, B.Sc.

Washington, DC

Mr. Harris has covered science, medicine, and the environment for National Public Radio since 1986. His award-winning work includes reports in 2010 revealing that the U.S. government was vastly underestimating the amount of oil spilling from the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. He also shared a Peabody Award with colleague Rebecca Perl for their 1994 reports about the tobacco industry’s secret documents, which showed that company scientists were well aware of the hazards of smoking. The American Geophysical Union honored Harris with a Presidential Citation for Science and Society. In 2014, he turned his attention back to biomedical research and came to realize how the field was suffering—too many scientists were chasing too little funding. That led him to take a year-long sabbatical at Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes to research and write his first book, Rigor Mortis. Mr. Harris grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned a B.A. in biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he graduated with highest honors and spoke at commencement. He has two grown children and lives in Washington, DC, which he traverses daily on his bicycle as he commutes to work.

Christopher T. Scott, Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX

Dr. Scott is the Dalton Tomlin Chair in Medical Ethics and Health Policy, professor of medicine, medical ethics, and health policy, and associate director of health policy at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. He is an emeritus faculty of the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics and former founding director of the Stanford Program on Stem Cells in Society. He is a past member of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and a former fellow at King’s College, London. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the University of British Columbia’s National Core on Neuroethics. His research centers on the ethical, legal, and social implications of emerging biotechnologies, including human genome editing, gene therapy, intellectual property, aging research, first-in-human clinical trials, and stem cell research. He is a consulting editor at Nature Biotechnology and serves on the editorial and ethics advisory boards of several high-impact journals. A former molecular cell biologist, he was formerly assistant vice chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco, and president and CEO of The Stem Cell Advisors, a public-benefit nonprofit providing research oversight and guidance. He is regularly featured in national media coverage of science policy and bioethics, including ABC, BBC, NBC, PBS, Fox, United Press International, Nightline, OZY, Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, and NPR. He has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Time, The Atlantic, and other news outlets.

Barbara Jasny, Ph.D.

Deputy Editor, Emeritus (Ret.), Science
Washington, DC

Dr. Jasny has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Rockefeller University. During her time as a research scientist, she has studied virus–host cell interactions, DNA replication, and cellular senescence. In 1985, she joined the journal Science, published by AAAS, as a scientific editor. For the past 34 years, she solicited papers and evaluated research reports for publication in genetics, medicine, and computational social science. She is an elected fellow of AAAS and has been an advisor to the American Society of Gene Therapy, the Functional Genomics Data Society, and the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative. For the past five years she was also the coordinator of the annual competition for the Science and SciLife Lab Prize for Young Scientists. She is author of more than 60 research papers, editorials, and overviews, and has been involved in communicating science through books, articles, posters, virtual presentations, CDs, and podcasts.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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