While previous parts of Rigor Mortis really got me to think deeply about how our medical research industry is flailing due to errors and miscommunications between scientists. Chapter Eight, ‘The Challenge of Precision Medicine’, brought some other very relatable issues to my attention which, in this case, had very little to do with the researchers and was mostly due to issues on how people outside of the industry are involving new studies and advances in modern day medicine.
“It doesn’t necessarily pay to be right. it actually pays to be sloppy and just cut corners and get there first.” -Veronique Kiermer [pg 172]
Most people can relate to being excited about something and having to wait awhile for it to come out. Maybe it was a video game when you were younger, the iPhone 7, or the newest season of Game of Thrones (I know, it was a hard 14 months for me as well). Whatever it may have been, the reason you were so excited for it to come out or be released was mostly likely due to advertisements or seeing someone else talk about how great it would be. The medical industry is somewhat similar. We hear about new ‘advancements’ which are predicted to be very valuable to improving the treatment of ___ or helping people with ___. We may become impatient that it’s taken 6 years for George R R Martin to release the next ASOIAF book and we may get frustrated that it’s been years since there has been significant improvement to the development of cancer treatment. this hooks back to what Kiermer said how researchers will rush through the process in the attempt to produce results when they could be missing crucial information or mistakes.
“‘ But if you feel the principles of distributive justice have been violated, you’ll say, ‘Screw it. Everybody cheats: I’m going to cheat too.’. ‘” -Brian Martinson [pg 187]
As said by Martinson, the ideas of ‘distributive justice’ lead to the ‘sheeple’ effect, where everyone will flock together, possibly leading to misconduct which is performed to do it being somewhat of a learned. This misconduct isn’t learned because they were taught to do so by their superiors, but more the fact that when we see other people breaking certain rules, we are more likely to break them as well. Here is an interesting article from Psychology Today about why we don’t think about breaking these rules as much as we should be.
It all does connect, however, the public side of research and the science aspect. Our impatience is just one more reason for researchers to speed up, skips over, or ever fabricate certain aspects of studies. So it’s not just the science aspect that needs changing, it’s the public aspect as well.