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Medscape quietly pulls a bad news article

Three days ago, I published a disapproving commentary about a disappointingly credulous and misinformation-laden article published on Medscape about the human papilloma virus vaccine Gardasil. The article was clearly biased, and, worse, it quoted Oprah’s favorite woo-loving gynecologist Dr. Christiane Northrup parroting germ theory denialism and the myth that Louis Pasteur “recanted” on his deathbed. All in all, it was a terrible article, far below the usual standards that I would expect for Medscape.

Yesterday, multiple people pointed out to me and I have seen at the blog Holford Watch that the original link to the Medscape article now leads to a “page cannot be found” error. Apparently, Medscape has pulled the article. At least, that’s the only explanation I can think of. Maybe Medscape has some shame after all.

Actually, I was disappointed to see the pulling of the article in this manner because this is not the way to go about it. Rather than admitting it made a mistake in not adequately fact-checking the article, including ignorant quotes by Dr. Northrup, and–let’s face it–publishing such a shoddy article in the first place, Medscape has instead apparently taken the path of least resistance and simply quietly pulled the article, perhaps hoping that no one will notice. A better course would have been to pull the article (it didn’t belong on Medscape, that’s for sure), but leave the original link to the article, replacing the article with an explanation why the article was pulled. By taking what strikes me as the cowardly way out, Medscape has, if anything, lowered rather than raised my opinion of it. Although I’m happy to see that its editors apparently have a sense of shame, I’m disappointed that they chose such a sneaky way to correct their mistake. It’s always better to own up to mistakes when you fix them.

Posted in: Public Health, Science and the Media, Vaccines

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3 thoughts on “Medscape quietly pulls a bad news article

  1. daedalus2u says:

    How the editors of Medscape behaved demonstrates that Medscape is not a reliable part of the scientific literature and its editors are unwilling to take the actions necessary to ensure that it is.

    Being a scientist has two parts, tentatively accepting reliable information, and rejecting information shown to be false.

    Being part of the scientific literature also has two parts. Publishing what you think is reliable scientific information, and publishing retractions and corrections when previously published information is shown to be wrong.

    If a publication is unwilling to correct its mistakes, then it is not a part of the scientific literature and should not be treated as such.

    The only reasons that Medscape has for not publishing a correction or retraction are the egos of the editors. If your ego is so big that you can’t admit a mistake, you are not capable of doing science.

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