“Plus,” said UD to Mr UD at lunch just now (they had leftover Chinese food plus an egg and cheese omelet), “there are ghost letters.”

“Ghosted scientific articles, and ghosted letters?”

“Listen to this:

[Jenny] White and colleague Lisa Bero, PhD, [both] of the University of California San Francisco, found 24 articles that were produced as a result of grants that Parke-Davis gave to [ghostwriting firm] Medical Education Systems in 1996 and 1997 to draft articles and letters to the editor regarding gabapentin [Neurontin] for publication in peer reviewed journals.

So they ghostwrite articles, and they ghostwrite letters in response to the articles they themselves have ghostwritten.”

“So… say a letter to the editor criticizing a ghostwritten article that the corporate ghost who’s written the original article then ghosts a response to is itself ghostwritten,” mused Mr UD. “If you catch my drift. Then you have significant research debate in high-level journals carried on exclusively by ghosts.”

“Ghost vs. Ghost, as Mad Magazine would say… But wait. Say the entire debate is carried on by the same ghost, in order to make the thing look more legit. Like, you know how corporate-generated, pretend-grassroots campaigns feature letters with on-purpose writing mistakes to make them look real? So maybe here you’re getting a vast fake controversy about the Neurontin results — all of it generated by one ghost, back and forth, back and forth with himself — here indignant, there defensive, here threatening to sue, there threatening to cancel his subscription… ”




(UD thanks Pharma Marketing Blog
for the image.)

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4 Responses to “Ghost Letters”

  1. RJO Says:

    Kind of puts the escapades of old Isadore Nabi to shame.

  2. Dave Stone Says:

    The possibilities are endless . . . I have been far too limited in my professional development.

    "Dear Editor: Stone’s recent article in your journal is the greatest work of history since Thucydides."
    "Dear Editor: Your recent correspondent is an idiot. Stone’s recent article is the greatest work of prose in any genre since stylus was put to clay tablet."
    "Dear Editor: Your previous two correspondents are idiots. Stone’s recent article is the best work that will ever be produced until the thermal death of the universe. Refuse all submissions from other authors."

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    I had no idea about Nabi, RJO. I’m often in your debt, but never perhaps so much as I am now. Thank you.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    But the next move HAS to be, Dave, something like this:

    Dear Editor: I confess I find myself baffled by the Stonefest (if I may coin a term) this journal has of late allowed its pages to host. Although I, like all other historians, have been instructed from the outset of my career positively to worship at the Stoneshrine (again, allow me), can I be the only historian who fails to discern his godlike attributes? …

    Which allows you to come back with a GROUP LETTER:

    Dear Editor: We the undersigned 150 professors of history from a swath of colleges and universities across the nation, write to protest the envy-inspired attack on Stone…

    [Names available on request.]

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