Because of COI, searching for the truth is difficult business.
Relationship between Funding Source and Conclusion among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles
“The main finding of this study is that scientific articles about commonly consumed beverages funded entirely by industry were approximately four to eight times more likely to be favorable to the financial interests of the sponsors than articles without industry-related funding. Of particular interest, none of the interventional studies with all industry support had an unfavorable conclusion. Our study also documented industry sponsorship was very common during the study period, indicating considerable potential for introduction of bias into the biomedical literature. In view of the high consumption rates of these beverages, especially among children, the public health implications of this bias could be substantial.”
The influence of the team in conducting a systematic review
“Systematic reviews benefit from team working, and co-production is an essential part of high-quality research synthesis and healthcare decision [1, 2]. However, despite their reputation as transparent and rigorous products, they are influenced by the people who conduct them and this in turn could affect the resulting conclusions. A review team may comprise experienced systematic reviewers, information specialists, statisticians, and content experts, or, as no licence is required to conduct a systematic review, the review team may include none of these specialties. In this case, it may be wise to consider who is conducting the systematic review and why. The number of systematic reviews indexed in MEDLINE has increased threefold over the last decade  indicating a steady spread in their employment globally. However, as in primary research,  systematic reviews can vary hugely in their reporting quality or their methodological quality [5,6,7]. Indeed, many systematic reviews are receiving increasing criticism for failing to live up to their reputation as high-quality, well-conducted pieces of research [8, 9]. They can be susceptible to bias, for example, when reviews are conducted by people who have a stake in the conclusions (researcher allegiance) [10, 11]. Alternatively, reviews could be conducted carelessly, in the chosen methods of meta-analysis or study selection (meta-bias) , or by failing to report research misconduct even when identified . If flawed systematic reviews continue to be published, they risk losing their eminent position in the evidence hierarchy; therefore, closer examination of who might be conducting them, and how the output can be affected, is warranted.”
Pharmaceutical company funding and its consequences: A qualitative systematic review
“This article systematically reviews published studies of the association of pharmaceutical industry funding and clinical trial results, as well a few closely related studies. It reviews two earlier results, and surveys the recent literature. Results are clear: Pharmaceutical company sponsorship is strongly associated with results that favor the sponsors' interests.”
Systematic analysis underlying the quality of the scientific evidence and conflicts of interest in gastroenterology practice guidelines.
“Although the majority of the gastroenterology guidelines fail to grade the quality of evidence, more recent ACG guidelines grade majority of their recommendations. When the evidence is graded, most of the supporting evidence is based on lower-quality evidence. In addition, most of the guidelines fail to comment on COIs, and when disclosed, numerous COIs were present. This study highlights the critical need to revise the guideline development process. Future guidelines should clearly state the quality of evidence for their recommendations, utilize a standard grading system, and be transparent regarding all COIs.”
Systematic review: the quality of the scientific evidence and conflicts of interest in international inflammatory bowel disease practice guidelines
“The majority of IBD clinical practice guideline recommendations are based on low-quality evidence. Furthermore, the majority of guidelines fail to comment on potential COI, and when present, most of the authors report numerous COI. In addition, management recommendations vary between societies. This study highlights the need for improving the development of IBD practice guidelines. Recommendations would be improved by stronger supporting evidence, agreement between societies, up to date recommendations and transparency regarding all potential bias in the development process. Centralizing all IBD guidelines within an international group may help solve several of the issues. Given these concerns, clinicians must be cautious when utilizing the recommendations in published IBD practice guidelines.”
The Dirt on Coming Clean: Perverse Effects of Disclosing Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of interest can lead experts to give biased and corrupt advice. Although disclosure is often proposed as a potential solution to these problems, we show that it can have perverse effects. First, people generally do not discount advice from biased advisors as much as they should, even when advisors’ conflicts of interest are disclosed. Second, disclosure can increase the bias in advice because it leads advisors to feel morally licensed and strategically encouraged to exaggerate their advice even further. As a result, disclosure may fail to solve the problems created by conflicts of interest and may sometimes even make matters worse.
The truth about lies: A meta-analysis on dishonest behavior
“Over the past decade, a large and growing body of experimental research has analyzed dishonest behavior. Yet the findings as to when people engage in (dis)honest behavior are to some extent unclear and even contradictory. A systematic analysis of the factors associated with dishonest behavior thus seems desirable. This meta-analysis reviews four of the most widely used experimental paradigms: sender–receiver games, die-roll tasks, coin-flip tasks, and matrix tasks. We integrate data from 565 experiments (totaling N = 44,050 choices) to address many of the ongoing debates on who behaves dishonestly and under what circumstances. Our findings show that dishonest behavior depends on both situational factors, such as reward magnitude and externalities, and personal factors, such as the participant’s gender and age. Further, laboratory studies are associated with more dishonesty than field studies, and the use of deception in experiments is associated with less dishonesty. To some extent, the different experimental paradigms come to different conclusions. For example, a comparable percentage of people lie in die-roll and matrix tasks, but in die-roll tasks liars lie to a considerably greater degree. We also find substantial evidence for publication bias in almost all measures of dishonest behavior. Future research on dishonesty would benefit from more representative participant pools and from clarifying why the different experimental paradigms yield different conclusions.”
Conservatives do not like ambiguity, and thus have a difficult time dealing with reality not existing in absolutes. More research is needed, but there is a gene in mice that gives fear towards ambiguity or promotes novelty seeking. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028390813001792
Things to look up:
The definition of conformity is “behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions, standards, rules, or laws”. These conventions, rules, and laws, represent a rough average of the spiritual health of a civilization.
Some individuals will value conformity more highly than the ideal of altruistic love. These individuals are flawed because of internal fear. This fear feeds thoughts that they are not worthy of love, and drives them to seek security by other means.
Conformity leads to the existence of maladapted, flawed, and dysfunctional ideas. However, those who live with fear prefer conformity. They fear being vulnerable. Open discussion on topics that could reveal their fears are made socially restricted. Conformity does not allow controversial topics to be discussed in a constructive way. In a conformist environment, more value is placed on upholding social graces, maintaining the peace, political correctness, and overall positive appearances.
Conformists are not egalitarian, but instead look for their place in a social hierarchy. The establishment represents a higher status entity than themselves in their construct of hierarchy. Hierarchy provides a feeling of safety and stability for conformists. They therefore have an inherent need to trust the establishment. Conformists prefer to avoid making decisions for themselves, and would rather have a higher status person, or the establishment make decisions for them. Conformists would demonize whistleblowers. They are the ones that would support Hitler because they like the feeling of security so much that they will ignore atrocity.
Conformists have an inherent need to feel safe. They have multiple and independent belief systems that are contextually triggered to maximize safety. They do not have an intention to lack objective thinking, it's that their brains are wired differently. Their brains are a product of evolution. Survival isn't always the ability to be fair and honest, but it does help to think you are fair and honest when you aren't. With a conformist brain, you think yourself a saint while you butcher someone else. The deceiver is not aware of deceit.
So where does that leave rational thinking, if your perception of reality changes to suit your needs? How can you realize scientific thinking with that kind of bias? Persons whose primary motivator is the pursuit of safety and stability, are starting with a conflict of interest in the pursuit of scientific, rational thought.
For the same reason, where does that leave values or morality? Conformists will follow the morality of society not because of their intrinsic set of values, but because they value the order/safety that the system provides. They don't think for themselves. They are like robots acting on instincts that run a self-preservation program optimizing the continuation of their DNA to the next generation. Conformists would marry for money, since money confers higher status and resources. They want to climb their concept of social hierarchy, but still want to feel that someone above them can keep them safe. If they reach the top they may turn to a perverted belief in a God that is separate from them and of higher rank, to provide their need for hierarchy.
“Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.” Conformists are not able to see themselves as accountable for their actions. Their feelings overrule logic. Their mind is optimized for resource acquisition. They are not aware of their own true motives. The deeper mind is ruthless towards resource acquisition. To avoid cognitive dissonance in the conscious mind, the deeper mind creates rationalizations for the conscious mind to follow. A conformist will say one thing, and do the exact opposite, all the while believing they are in the right. They can commit heinous acts while showing no remorse.
Perhaps the way their mind works is that logic is not separate from creativity. While their minds are brilliant, they serve the id without an ability for reason or fairness. There is no loyalty, as a conformists emotional attachment will follow their current need.
Conformists' need to feel safe is driven by a homeostatic level of anxiety and fear. I have a hypothesis, which I'm sure someone has already researched. The innate conformist-fearful person, in the absence of threats, will perceive threats where they don't exist. Given they are in a constant state of anxiety and fear, they will rationalize that there is something to be afraid of, even if there isn't. This is how they can be manipulated by a madman like Hitler: he only needs to offer safety from an imaginary threat.
Conformists are good at overcoming hardships by being “positive thinkers”. They benefit the most from mental health therapy, since standard therapy involves distorting reality in ways that are inventively positive.
There must be some evolutionary advantage to having our level of conformity. However, modern society is a different environment from our evolutionary past, and what once was an advantage, could now be a liability towards a better civilization.
In the absence of threat, people still find things to be afraid of, because the mind is adapted to look for threats. The same for indignation. We can sometimes use logic instead of feelings to make decisions, and understanding these mammalian traits can help in sorting out false fear or indignation.
Next up: primordial fear homeostasis
Addition by Annie G.:
As social animals we evolved an instinct for conformity because group cohesion improves group survival. But we would never have made any progress if that was all there was to us.