But Coleman belongs to a small gang of dodgy 'scientists' who are engaged in creating a body of pseudo-sciency literature to refute millions of person-hours of real research. In other words, they are just making shit up.
This con was spotted by PBS's Now back in July 2007. From the transcript:
[Senior correspondent Maria] HINOJOSA: It's a seismic shift in strategy...a carefully calculated effort to convince the public that abortion irreparably harms women. The Pro-Life movement has invested millions in a multifaceted strategy that embraces the language of the Women's Right's Movement, promotes questionable scientific evidence and seeks to portray women as victims.
There had been a recent Supreme Court decision restricting so-called late-term abortion that cited some of this bogus research.
HINOJOSA: Dr. Nada Stotland is president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association...we caught up with her while she was visiting her pregnant daughter in New York City.
DR. STOTLAND: It was a great shock to me to find out that—legislators and judges could write down anything they wanted whether it had a scientific basis or not. And, that Supreme Court opinion did not have a scientific basis.
HINOJOSA: Every year in the United States about 1.3 million women terminate their pregnancies. And while it's often a wrenching decision, most studies show that the vast majority of women suffer no long term negative mental health affects.
DR. STOTLAND: There is no such official psychiatric diagnosis despite attempts to produce what looks like evidence
HINOJOSA: In fact both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association—two giant mainstream scientific institutions—say there is no causal link: "Abortion in and of itself, is not associated with negative mental health consequences."
Got that? NO causal link.
Now, over to the pseudo side:
REARDON: It's in God's design that the woman and the child's best interests are intertwined.
HINOJOSA: But this man, David Reardon, says mainstream science is wrong.
He is the author of seven books on abortion. In 1996 he wrote, "Making Abortion Rare," often called the playbook for the pro-life movement's shift in focus.
Well, natch PBS wanted to interview him. But they couldn't get him so got Priscilla instead. Read her wriggle around on her association with the fetus fetishists.
HINOJOSA: David Reardon has not responded to our many emails and phone calls requesting an interview...however one of his frequent co-authors, Priscilla Coleman, a human development and family studies professor at Ohio's Bowling Green State University came to New York to talk about her research.
HINOJOSA: So you don't have a problem with the fact that David Reardon has a Ph.D. from an unaccredited university?
COLEMAN: It's—I don't have a problem with anything about David really, except for if, when we're working together, there's anything in the writing or the analysis that—that I don't agree with. I mean, I—all we do—we don't have discussions about pro-life issues. All we do is work on a paper together.
HINOJOSA: And you don't feel that your information—
COLEMAN: I know it—
HINOJOSA: —because you're so tied to David Reardon—
COLEMAN: —I'm not really tied to David Reardon. I've met him—
HINOJOSA: But you've published more than a dozen—
COLEMAN: Not that many—
COLEMAN: —with him.
HINOJOSA: Well, actually, let's see. We have them right here.
COLEMAN: I don't think it's that many.
HINOJOSA: —the number of articles—that you have co-authored, and studies. One, two, three—we have 12 right here.
So when you have this level of collaboration with David Reardon—and—and people say, "Look, Priscilla Coleman is tied to the anti-abortion movement, we can't look at her science as being unbiased," you say?
COLEMAN: I handled the data, I analyzed it in a scrupulous way. We encouraged people to reanalyze our data.
And we've used—nationally representative samples, data that's been collected by other people—for other purposes that just happened to have the right variable repro—reproductive history and—various mental health outcomes.
And we're finding that—you know, approximately ten to 20 percent of women suffer severely from abortion.
HINOJOSA: Coleman and Reardon's articles have indeed appeared in peer reviewed journals, but that doesn't impress Nada Stotland.
DR. STOTLAND: This is another part of a deliberate effort. One of the—one of the parts of that effort is to accumulate as though you have more evidence if the stack of papers is higher rather than where are these people—people's papers being published? And, how good and how rigorous was the peer review?
HINOJOSA: This study by Coleman, Reardon and associates for instance appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and concludes that low income women who abort are more likely to need psychiatric care later...and even through the Journal's editors defended the decision to publish the paper - they said it generated a barrage of letters.
Several came from scientists, claiming the study's poor methodology rendered the results less than credible.
So when you, Priscilla Coleman, read the kinds of criticisms that say that your methodology is flawed—
COLEMAN: Actually, they don't usually talk about my methodology. They usually talk about—my co-authors who have been involved in—some of them have been involved in the pro-life movement. And so it's—it's usually not specifics about our studies that they're criticizing.
HINOJOSA: In emails, two prominent independent scientists, on a panel that is reviewing the scientific literature for the American Psychological Association told us the studies have "inadequate or inappropriate" controls and don't adequately control "for women's mental health prior to the pregnancy and abortion."
Ah, there's Priscilla, er, wriggling again. There was a major hoo-haw when the CMAJ published this tripe but to its credit the journal gave room to a respected scientist, Dr. Brenda Major, to demolish the methodology.
Ah, but all that is so long ago. Let's have a look at something more recent. This is from April this year.
Priscilla K Coleman, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, has, over the last few years, been the most prolific author of studies which purport to show a link between elective, induced abortion and subsequent mental health problems in women. Pubmed currently lists 21 papers on abortion and mental health in which Coleman is either a lead or co-author, a figure exceeded only by her sometime co-author and collaborator David C Reardon*, who currently has 25 papers to his name.
*Reardon’s output has dropped off considerably since 2004 following an article in the Washington Monthly by Chris Mooney which revealed that his claimed ‘PhD’ in biomedical ethics had been awarded by an unaccredited correspondence school that provided no classroom instruction. . His most recent Pubmed listed paper dates to 2006.
In my previous articles on the evidence base relating to abortion and mental health, I’ve noted the strong criticism directed towards Coleman’s work and its methodological short-comings, the most serious of which have tended to be the use of inappropriate or inadequate controls and a general failure to control for women’s mental health prior to pregnancy and/or abortion. Coleman is part of a small clique of researchers, which includes David Reardon, Vincent Rue, Jesse Cougle, Phillip Ney, Martha Shuping and Catherine T Coyle, who are actively engaged in building a literature to be used in efforts to restrict abortion using methods which closely parallel those adopted by proponents of homeopathy and other so-called ‘alternative medicines’. The strategy in question is that of manipulating public opinion by creating a false perception of the strength of the scientific evidence which supports a particular hypothesis, such the efficacy of homeopathy or a causal relationship between abortion and subsequent mental health problems, based of the number of published studies which appear to support the hypothesis rather than on quality, validity and reliability of each paper’s actual findings.
The author goes on to demolish -- again -- the gang's methodology.
Now I'd never suggest that there is any kind of fraud going on. Maybe it's just some kind of irrremediable bias. And nothing, nada, zero, zip to do with money unlike the charlatan Andrew Wakefield, who totally fabricated the autism/vaccine connection. His work -- first published in the The Lancet, note -- was discredited, then more recently, was revealed by Brian Deer of The Sunday Times to be a lucrative fraud.
Research fraud happens, though rarely on this scale. The real tragedy is that many otherwise intelligent people have come to believe the purported MMR-autism link, and the health of a lot of children has been endangered as a result.
In Britain, childhood vaccination rates fell to as low as 80 per cent, allowing a return of measles, mumps and rubella. Thankfully, those rates are climbing back up again.
It is hard to imagine that the greed and arrogance of one man could do so much damage.
Hopefully, the diligent work of Mr. Deer has put the final nail in the coffin of Dr. Wakefield’s career of fraud and deception.
Synchronically, yesterday CBC's The Current had a piece on medical ghost-writing.
If you look at a scientific research paper, you probably assume that the person who signed their name to it is in fact the person who wrote it. But it turns out, that's not always the case. In some cases, the paper you're looking at was actually written by someone paid by a drug company ... a ghost-writer whose name is nowhere to be found on the final product.
Critics say this kind of medical ghost-writing taints the integrity of the results and that a medication's side-effects can end up being down-played or omitted altogether. It's not known how often this practice happens. But one study run by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that more than seven per cent of the articles in its own journal had unacknowledged contributions.
Again, prestigious journals duped.
To review: Coleman, P., et al., have a history and an agenda. Their methodology is continually questioned.
I have no doubt that this latest
Scientific journals have a duty to publish work that seems to go against accepted views. Fine. But they also have a duty to properly vet the work before it is published. Because, as The Lancet discovered, it really really smarts to issue a retraction.
Nonetheless, the media churns the SHRIEEEKING headlines out and people are confused and frightened.