Friday, March 01, 2024

A new stupid anti-Israel letter in The Lancet and an October editorial in BMJ indicate that medical journals are now more political than objective

The Lancet published another absurd anti-Israel letter. It was written by Somaya Albhaisi, a Virginia internist and associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Has the scientific community ever wondered why many of us know only a few Palestinian scientists or researchers in our respective fields,
and why scientists are often not affiliated with or employed by institutions engaged in active partnerships with Palestinian academic organisations? Under oppression and occupation, Palestinian science faces systematic erasure, involving the imprisonment or killing of individuals, the destruction of academic institutions, and the deprivation of resources and opportunities. To become a scientist in the Gaza Strip, you must overcome insurmountable difficulties, including water, food, electricity, and fuel scarcity; severe travel restrictions; little funding and investment in science; and substantial restrictions on both access to equipment for scientific experiments and collaborations with international scientists.
So it is Israel's fault that Western scientists don't know more Palestinian researchers?

An imperfect method to determine how influential Palestinian academics are is by counting the number of articles they publish every year. In 2020, they ranked #95 in that metric, publishing 1204 articles. Thi is comparable to the numbers published by researchers in Costa Rica and Venezuela, and far less than Cameroon and Uganda, less than one third of the numbers from Kenya or Ghana.

How many in the scientific community know colleagues from those countries? If they don't know any colleagues from Armenia, doe that indicate that there is some sort of conspiracy to silence scientists from Armenia? 

Her first footnote is to Middle East Eye, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood site that is reportedly funded by Qatar.  It claims that Israel is engaging in"educide" - a deliberate attack on academics in Gaza. Israel haters keep trying to find new crimes to accuse Israel of, and when they run out, they make new ones up. 

Albhaisi did exactly what scientists shouldn't do: she started with her foregone conclusion and then only adduced evidence that supported it, ignoring any other explanation or evidence. 

As we've seen previously, The Lancet has showed that the last bastion of objectivity, which is science and the scientific method, has fallen, with the enthusiastic support of many scientists themselves.

We can say the same about the British Medical Journal, which published an editorial about how "settler colonialism" is the root of all problems only two weeks after October 7. Hamas and Israeli lives lost are not even mentioned in that article. 

Albhaisi herself has published 52 scientific papers. If her methodology for those papers is as poor as it is in this letter to The Lancet, perhaps those previous papers should be reviewed more carefully by independent peers. 

(h/t YMedad)

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