Political Science

In December 1982, Dr. Jack Yoffa of Syracuse, New York, took Zomax, a painkiller, just before driving to the hospital for minor surgery. About halfway there, Yoffa began to itch and turn red. Within 60 seconds, he was unconscious. His car hit a guardrail, crossed a three-lane highway (narrowly missing several cars), knocked over a light pole, and landed in a ditch. Yoffa had experienced anaphylactoid shock, a not uncommon—yet often fatal—reaction to Zomax, which the drug's manufacturer, McNeil, had neglected to publicize despite numerous reports of similar responses among other users. While McNeil had managed to keep reports of several deaths associated with Zomax from the public, a local TV newscaster's March 1983 interview with Yoffa finally forced the company to withdraw the drug from the market.

Yoffa's story is perhaps the most disturbing of the many examples of scientific misconduct documented in Robert Bell's Impure Science: Fraud, Compromise, and Political Influence in Scientific Research. Yet even in cases where the consequences are not life-threatening. Bell, a professor of economics at Brooklyn College, makes it clear that "malfeasance and compromise subvert our scientific and technological base, thereby weakening the competitiveness of the economy in which we earn our living." Bell maintains that science, long treated as a "sacred cow," is really only as "pure"...

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