Reactions to a recent news story calling for a journal to retract antivivisectionist papers
To the Editor:
We were deeply disturbed to hear in your March 2nd article "Scientists call for retractions
" that the Research Defence Society (RDS) is now challenging even the publication of papers by scientists who are opposed to animal experimentation. The motivations or beliefs of a paper's author or authors should not be relevant to its publication -- only the quality and relevance of the science. The journal has made clear that the original paper by Dr Bailey was peer-reviewed.
Those who have concerns about its scientific qualities should address them in the usual way, and those who don't like the perceived attitudes of its author should not try to censor a vital scientific debate. Indeed, if the RDS are so confident they are right, why should they even want to do so?
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection,
16a Crane Grove
To the Editor:
I wish to counter the absurd publicity stunt by Simon Festing and RDS, in the article "Scientists call for retractions" published this month, wherein they ask for retraction of perfectly valid scientific studies published by Jarrod Bailey in Biogenic Amines
. I have read both studies, and they are carefully prepared and appropriately referenced discussions validating and supporting non-animal alternatives to animal research in specific areas of medicine.
Dr. Festing's unstated issue is that these papers represent a strong pro-research viewpoint that counters the animal research interests of his employers at the RDS. In attempting to bully the journal's editors to retract scientifically solid papers for political and economic interests, Dr. Festing shames the commitment to open scientific debate demanded of our shared profession.
He and RDS may disagree with Dr. Bailey's work, but the appropriate response is debate and documentation, not censorship. Unwilling or unable to rebut Dr. Bailey's scholarship, they have resorted to personal attacks. When I read Dr. Festing's feeble accusations of extremism against Dr. Bailey, I was reminded that character assassination is the last cowardly refuge of those unable to engage in the debate.
One final point regarding Mr. Pincock's piece. Perhaps the title should be re-thought, because although Dr. Bailey is an acknowledged scientific researcher and academician, Dr. Festing to my knowledge has never done scientific research. He apparently prefers to make his living speaking on behalf of special interests regarding topics outside his personal experience.
May I suggest this title: "Special Interests Call for Suppression of Scientific Inquiry?"
John J. Pippin
Senior Medical and Research Advisor
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Dallas, Texas, USA
To the Editor:
The article "Scientists call for retractions," in which I am quoted, includes statements from Dr. Parvez that harm my professional reputation and are therefore in need of correction. I joined the editorial board of Biogenic Amines
at the insistent invitation of its Chief editor, Dr. Parvez, but I took never part in the editorial tasks of the journal. I had observed that a large number of the papers published in this journal had Dr. Parvez as co-author. I submitted 4 papers to this journal, and was, for each of them, invited by Dr. Parvez to add his name as a co-author, although this was not justified. For the last of the 4 papers, which I submitted in March 2005, a revised version was accepted in May and the proofs were sent back to me by the publisher (Brill) in July. As I was invited to present the work at a meeting in Hawaii in August, Dr. Parvez insisted to get funding to attend this meeting also, which I refused to provide. He took immediate action in withdrawing the paper, alleging that I had breached the copyright agreement. This was obviously not the case, as confirmed personally by the publisher (Dr. Van der Linde), who apologized for Dr. Parvez's angry and unjustified move. He also informed me that Brill will stop publishing Biogenic Amines, since subscriptions had merely dwindled to a total of 32.
It is clear that the deadly "harm to the journal" was mainly made by Dr. Parvez's editorial "practices". Nobody had to "force (me) to resign" since the journal had disappeared before. As to Dr. Parvez's claim that I am an "antivivisectionist," could he find a single sentence that I said or wrote, challenging animal model experimentation based on ethical or philosophical arguments? My exclusive goal in challenging the "animal model" concept with scientific arguments is to avoid its potential adverse effects in human health issues. Consider only the fact that in developed countries, the fourth cause of death is side effects of prescription drugs, despite each had successfully passed thousands of animal tests.
Links within this article
S. Pincock, "Scientists call for retractions," The Scientist
, March 2, 2006.