Scientists denounce ‘McCarthyism’

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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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