I have known about this for a while, and have been debating whether or not I should say anything. I really dont want to give the disgraces responsible for the XMRV–>CFS fiasco, Judy Mikovits, Frank Ruscetti, and Sandra Ruscetti, any more attention. What turned my opinion was something T.R. Gregory said yesterday:
I don’t *believe* in science or have *faith* in science. Rather, I *trust* scientific reasoning and the conclusions that come from evaluating evidence scientifically. The difference is that belief and faith don’t need to be backed up. Trust, on the other hand, is earned.
Of course he meant this statement in the context of evolution– ie ‘I dont believe in evolution, I accept evolution as a fact based on the evidence we have to support it’.
But our trust in science sits on top of the assumption that no one is deceiving us. I am sure many of us have had the argument with a Creationist about a ‘trickster god’. Maybe the universe really is 6,000 years old, but a sneaky deity made it appear billions of years old for the lulz. Maybe all organisms were specially created in the Garden of Eden, but a troll god put in ERVs and pseudogenes and such to fool us into thinking common descent is true.
But thats not how science works.
We all operate under the assumption that other scientists are being open and honest about what they are doing, and what they find.
Science could not operate if we did not trust each other. There would be no point, really. We would all just be redoing other peoples experiments over and over. Hell, the new grad student would have to redo everything the leaving post-doc did, the PI would have to personally redo everything the new grad student did. And lord knows you wouldnt be able to trust that shifty-eyed tech.
At some point, to move forward, you would have to say “I trust this. What next?”
So what happens to the scientists who breech that trust?
Frank Ruscetti and his wife Sandra Ruscetti are out at the National Cancer Institute. Frank retired shortly after the XMRV fiasco was resolved. While that is perfectly believable, I do find it interesting that the NCI wiped him off their website ASAP.
Sandra recently had a paper published, otherwise, not much if anything since XMRV. I saw no official ‘retirement’ statement, but she is no longer listed as an employee of NCI either.
Judy Mikovits is also out of the scientific community. She is releasing a book (with an anti-vax co-author) with a hysterically funny title I couldnt have made up if I were trying to make a joke:
Good Lord! LOL! If I am not even mentioned, I will be very put out. Im already disappointed she hasnt offered me a review copy.
Okay, so, the Ruscettis are retired and Mikovits has a blossoming career everyone saw coming in anti-vax-ism.
But thats not all!
Frank and Judy have opened up a ‘consulting’ shop (go ahead and click through the site. its a riot). I dont know why. I cannot think of one possible occasion on which I would ‘consult’ either of these people. And, for some reason, even though ‘consulting’ work is typically accomplished via travel or internet/phone calls, the Ruscettis have relocated across the country to Carlsbad, CA… where Judy lives… because thats not at all… ‘odd’…
So, there you go, kids. This is what happens when a ‘scientist’ is no longer trusted. Youre out.
I am satisfied with how things played out with the XMRV fiasco.
Happy? No. Noooooo. No. ‘Happy’ would require the phrase ‘internal investigation by the NCI on all previous publications by Mikovits or the Ruscettis’, and to my knowledge, that didnt happen. But Im satisfied. Ultimately, what was supposed to happen, happened. Science isnt perfect. But the system we have works pretty damn good.