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February 8, 1995

Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in America

Author Affiliations

National Medical Advisory Service and Risk Communication International North Bethesda, Md


by Cynthia Crossen, 272 pp, $23, ISBN 0-671-79285-7, New York, NY, Simon & Schuster, 1994.

JAMA. 1995;273(6):508-509. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520300082048

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Tainted Truth is a well-researched, if confusing, exposé of science-for-hire. No bodies of data escape the author's probing. Opinion polls, advertising statistics, studies designed to promote legislation, data for the courtroom, and biomedical research deserve equal skepticism when they are bought and paid for by self-interested parties.

The intensity of Crossen's research and her style bespeak her background as a writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal. The reader is propelled from one situation to another in a manner more appropriate to journalistic reporting than to a research treatise.

Crossen demonstrates certain inconsistencies, which detract from her message. An exploration of the oat bran cholesterol-lowering controversy concludes that Quaker Oats bought the results. She criticizes the Quaker-sponsored meta-analysis that was used to add power to the supportive studies. However, in the case of passive smoking, she praises the Environmental Protection Agency's estimates of lung cancer, failing to note that

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