Serious editorial misconduct at Scientific American related to COVID-19

Peter C Gøtzsche writes: In March, the world’s most cited medical researcher, Professor John Ioannidis from Stanford University, became the subject of one of the worst witch hunts in newer medical history after he had published an opinion article about the COVID-19 pandemic. Journalists Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee described this in an opinion piece with a sidebar in Scientific American, only to be exposed to serious editorial misconduct by the journal.

The journal violated the first rule of journalistic integrity by publishing accusations without inquiring of the accused. The editors uploaded “corrections” on the journal’s homepage, several of which were errors committed by themselves; others were not true or irrelevant. Lenzer and Brownlee tried to correct the false “corrections” but the editors also denied them this opportunity. The inappropriate “corrections” triggered an outpouring of hate mail and false claims about Ioannidis and the integrity of Lenzer and Brownlee as journalists.

It was so bad that Jeffrey S. Flier, former Dean at Harvard Medical School, wrote to the editors asking them to take proper action. Scientific American has not published his letter.

It is essential to expose misconduct. Flier’s letter and Lenzer and Brownlee’s corrections of the erroneous “corrections” made by the editors can be found on Lenzer’s website.