Reader Comments

Post a new comment on this article

3 Years on from this paper - Prof McCrone and the PACE team should not stand in the way of science

Posted by Kgeraghty on 13 Dec 2015 at 13:26 GMT

Prof. McCrone and the PACE team claim to be leading scientists, indeed many of the PACE team are award winning researchers, working at the most prestigious Universities we have in the UK. How therefore, can such eminent scientistists be standing in the way of science, by blocking other researchers from accessing data from a large publically funded trial?

The PACE Trial, on which the results of this cost-effectiveness analysis have been derived, is a publically funded MRC Trial to test different treatment modalities for a serious illness that impacts the lives of many people in the UK and worldwide. The outcomes of this trial have guided health policy and informed medical practice, yet we have an absurd situation that other scientists have challenged the legitimacy of these outputs, pointing to bias, flawed methodology and more; yet critics are being actively prevented from performing analysis of the data, because the PACE trial team and Prof. McCrone feel such criticism represents a form of harassment. To suggest that Prof. Coyne is harassing the PACE team is a falsification on a level I have not seen before. To question Prof. Coyne's motives, is akin to deciding who can challenge and who can not - as such, this is a clear danger to scientific enquiry.

I would like to remind Prof. McCrone of the words of Noam Chomsky "the intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn't betray it, I'd be ashamed of myself". Science is a debate, a contest, a struggle of ideas; researchers at King's College or Queen Mary University of London will be teaching their students to challenge the status quo, yet here we have an example of leaders in science blocking others from challenging, of researchers seeking to use constructed narratives of harassment or organised campaigns by patients (the sick), to justify the non-release of important data that may be contested or utilised by others. How in good conscience, can such researchers return to the class room while maintaining such a stance?

I raised doubts about the analysis presented in this PLOS One paper as far back as Jan 2013 - at the time, I didn't mention the need to release the data, at that time I simply focused on fatal flaws I discovered in the original trial and the subsequent analysis performed by Prof. McCrone. I now ask what I might I have found if I had access to the original data set? Such a question should not be left unanswered, Prof. Coyne and others should be allowed to access the dataset and be allowed to carry out work to analyse the data in what ever way they see fit - the PACE trial team can contest the analysis Prof. Coyne might perform, thats science.

It's a travesty that the PACE Team, Prof. McCrone and King's College, think that this situation is acceptable.

No competing interests declared.