The Fisman et al. Swindle – A Blistering Rebuke
Science should not be used as a weapon to quash human rights and defraud Canadians
On Thursday May 12th, 2022, I couriered via registered mail the attached critique to Dr. Kirsten Patrick, CMAJ editor-in-chief. This morning, I followed up with an email providing an electronic copy to the CMAJ editorial board. I like to be thorough.
This comprehensive evaluation of the Fisman et al. publication (April 25th, 2022) is in support of the summary I submitted through the CMAJ online portal. The full critique provides additional context and a more in-depth assessment of the study’s serious scientific shortcomings, too many to address within the 3,000-character limit of the online portal.
The research by Fisman et al. doesn't just fail on one thing, it fails on pretty much everything. The complete lack of scientific quality and integrity is truly astounding, especially coming from a tenured professor of epidemiology (the main author) who highlights mathematical modeling & simulation along with decision analysis & cost-effectiveness analysis as research interests. While numerous scientists rebuked the study and its “findings”, the concerns go far beyond poor-quality model building and a mere misinterpretation of results (over 22 researchers/medical doctors have submitted online concerns to CMAJ at the time of this writing). How the study’s many shortcomings escaped the journals peer-review process is unfathomable. Indeed, concerns of bias, falsification, fabrication, misrepresentation, inappropriate influence, and potential political interference are not to be taken lightly.
One would be hard-pressed to find a clearer example of scientific misconduct. In normal times, I believe the Fisman et al. paper would have been a career-ender. The fact that it passed peer review, was published in CMAJ and was widely disseminated within hours of its release speaks to the poor quality of many “scientific” papers that have been (mis)used during the pandemic to bolster political agendas.
My goal in providing this rebuke is to leave no doubt that (1) the paper should be retracted, immediately (2) CMAJ should conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and seek the necessary quality control changes within their organization to ensure published research adheres to established scientific protocols, and (3) the authors’ credibility is clearly compromised in this area, and as such, all advice given by the authors during the pandemic should be reviewed for errors and bias.
One can download my full critique (link below). It’s a bit lengthy but well worth the read, especially the ending. Feel free to share… widely.
Note: An updated version of the critique was sent to the University of Toronto on May 26th, 2022 and to CIHR on June 1st, 2022. It includes an additional section at the end that speaks to the allegations of fraud specific to their ethics framework.