Scientists denounce ‘McCarthyism’

Scientists denounce ‘McCarthyism’

March 3, 2016

Christopher Russel

McKeganey, Neil

Neil McKeganey

Neil McKeganey and Christopher Russell of the Centre for Substance Use Research in Glasgow, Scotland, cautioned against a “new McCarthyism” in the area of e-cigarette research.

The scientists responded to a commentary in Addiction, in which Jim McCambridge of the University of York advocates a ban on industry-funded e-cigarette research and a creation of a register of financial and other disclosures that “does not rely exclusively upon self-disclosure,” with no statute of limitations.

McKeganey and Russell said McCambridge is effectively calling for a list that is “based on suspicion, innuendo, some level of detective work, and unsubstantiated allegation.”

McKeganey and Russell also said McCambridge’s proposal is a “new McCarthyism in which allegation stands in place of evidence and where the appearance upon such a blacklist could destroy a researcher’s career,” and risks undermining “the openness, and the free exchange of knowledge and understanding, that is at the very heart of the scientific enterprise.”


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