Last month I blogged about the unsavory practices of French scientists who unveiled a study purporting to show that genetically modified corn and herbicide cause cancer in rats. Not only was the study weak, but the scientists required reporters to sign an oath of secrecy to see it in advance. As I explained to the NPR show On the Media, this strategy raised the odds that all those pesky questions about statistical significance from meddling outsiders would be absent from the first wave of reporting.
In Nature today, Declan Butler continues his great reporting on the affair, unearthing additional disturbing parts of the story. My favorite was this passage from the agreement that some reporters–incredibly–agreed to sign:
“A refund of the cost of the study of several million euros would be considered damages if the premature disclosure questioned the release of the study.”
Who knew that doing basic science reporting could land you catastrophically in debt? Well, aside from Simon Singh…
[Update: Link to Nature fixed]