List of predatory, parasitic, or pseudoscientific publishers and journals
Because Science does not need lack of rigor and seriousness, we do not need them ...
The Dolos list is here for you, researchers, journalists, or readers of the general public. It has an informative character and is at your disposal if you still doubt a journal or publisher who is not listed.
The predatory publishing sector is harmful to the researchers that it scams, to the journalists that it deludes, and to the general public that it misinforms. It is dangerous for public health, sometimes promoting dubious practices and toxic products that it will present as innocuous or curative. Science and people would suffer greatly from its expansion.
Science is not an opinion
Version française disponible ici
The Dolos list has already mentioned several dubious newspapers like Nexus or Initiative Citoyenne for the dissemination of their pseudoscientific content. Today, the French newspaper L'Opinion is added. In this addition, the NoFakeScience collective accompanies it in the category of organizations promoting pseudoscientific information.
The articles shared by l'Opinion concerning phytosanitary products, were already with the scientific information what the Critical Reviews in Toxicology is with the scientific publication. It was to defend glyphosate, at the price of scientific rigor. But it was only a newspaper, not a scientific journal. The said articles therefore did not immediately lead to their addition to the Dolos list.
However, a few days ago, a tribune was published:
The newspaper Le Monde has already published an article on this subject, point by point, on the "relative evidences" of the tribune:
This is the initiative of the NoFakeScience collective, which we will come back to later. It presents and contradicts a certain number of fake news concerning nuclear, GMOs, homeopathy, ... Until then, all is well. But the tribune still talked about glyphosate, in these terms:
"Let us be clear: the state of our knowledge cannot be a supermarket in which we can choose only what suits us and leave on the shelf that which contradicts our opinions.There are indeed scientific consensus on topics as diverse as:
- At current professional and dietary exposures, the various authorities responsible for assessing the risk associated with the use of glyphosate consider it unlikely that it presents a carcinogenic risk for humans."
First of all, the bodies in question, such as EFSA (which a large part of the experts sitting on it comes directly from the industry), do not represent the scientific consensus. Then, if it has established a scientific consensus, it is on its probable danger. And finally, almost all the papers supporting the non-dangerous nature of glyphosate have been published in very low-quality journals, notably the Critical Reviews in Toxicology.
Here, ladies and gentlemen of the signatories, you play to be what you call yourself merchants of doubt, supporting a highly debatable subject to present it as a scientific consensus. What sets the scientific consensus is the scientific literature as a whole, produced by the scientific community, not the industry. Meta-analyzes (like this one) based on quality studies are, to get an idea, quite good indicators. The reports of public authorities are not always reliable in this area (as seen here). If at least they all agreed ... Moreover, here, IARC and WHO would have contradicted the signatories of this tribune, which they do not seem to mention. Would we do it here like in a supermarket? This is not how research works. The report of an institution is not systematically the most reliable. Research is a collective effort and the consensus that can sometimes emerge can be read in the high quality scientific literature.
Let's go back to the way in which the signatories of the tribune are presented in the preamble:
"The NoFakeScience collective, which brings together some 20 scientists and specialists in scientific popularization, is alarmed at the treatment of scientific information in the media, often misguided. He calls for a jump start and stresses the existence of perfectly established scientific consensus. It is supported by nearly 230 other great names in global research who have signed this call. "
So, first of all, unless I landed on another planet during the night, no big name in the world research co-authored this platform. I'm really sorry. Then, many signatories are simply not researchers, nor even teachers or provided with any scientific education. Some are, but some scientists are not the scientific community and the need to present them as "great names in global research" is actually not very reassuring.
Finally, I would like to come back to one point: The NoFakeScience collective and the newspaper l'Opinion have another common point: They present themselves as defenders of scientific rigor and are, on many other subjects, quite rigorous. They denounce homeopathy, hold a coherent speech on nuclear, etc ... But, in the middle of this apparent will to give more space to the scientific consensus, both slip here and there false information about glyphosate, claiming , as for the rest, that this is the opinion of the scientific community, so they simply did with the scientific literature, well, as if they were in a supermarket. This is a common strategy so that it is not mentioned here.
And for the signatories of the tribune?
Often additions to the Dolos list penalize journals, newspapers, or added organizations, but also researchers or students who publish with them. I would like to express two things that came to my mind:
In the first place, the signatories of the tribune may not agree with all the arguments defended or even the method used to defend them. It is possible that this one is the object of a collective reflection with which all the signatories are not perfectly aligned.
Secondly, the preamble of the tribune, introducing the signatories, may not have been written by the signatories themselves, but by the newspaper. The famous 230 other signatories may not have known that they would be presented as "great names in global research".
It is important to relativize on these points and the Dolos list does not sanction people, but companies and organization promoting pseudoscience.
The tribune, incorrectly presented as the call of 250 eminent scientists, asks the media to better treat scientific information, while slipping a point of pseudoscience, difficult to accept. Why hardly acceptable? Because by claiming to defend the scientific rigor, this tribune allows to disseminate false information, to sow doubt. While in France we have a globally serious press (not perfect, but still very serious as a whole), this post argues that this is not the case. In other words: "Do not trust the media and believe instead 250 people presented as big names in global research, preferably without checking that they really are."
Yes, some information provided in the gallery is quite accurate. Yes, mistakes can happen even in big newspapers. Yes, it happens that television, the press, or even the scientific press add sensational to the scientific results. But no, there is no scientific consensus establishing glyphosate as an unlikely carcinogen. No, the French media are not great vectors of pseudoscientific information. And no, we cannot mention Pasteur and play, at the same time, the merchant of doubt.
By experience (so short of it, from the height of my 22 years), I think that if someone explains that the media lie and that it is necessary to believe he because he would be a leading specialist of the question that he wants to approach, it's enough suspicious to verify a minimum. The scientific consensus is established only in the high quality scientific literature, not in a tribune, simply because Science is not a matter of opinion, but a study of facts.
For now, I think this article will not have a particularly dramatic impact for l'Opinion. With the exception of researchers who use the Dolos list and the universities that use it or subscribe to its database, this article will not affect many people. But it may be useful to those who will be tempted to co-sign a tribune of this kind, with this collective, within this newspaper, or others that will soon be added to the Dolos list.
Article published in French the 13th of August 2019 and translated the 15th of September 2019.