One wonders if this would even be magnified by a guru-disciple  
relationship or by a "followers' mentality" which associates good  
reports of the followers' meditation technique (or any technique)  
with being a "good" disciple, "adjusting to the guru's thinking",  
etc.? In other words if you're a "good" disciple-sidha, you'll give  
glowing results on a questionnaire or with any self-reporting; even  
more-so if scientific research is used as part of indoctrination,  
marketing and woven into the teaching itself. Same of course goes for  
researchers working for the guru: the guru-disciple relationship  
magnifies bias, even if the guru is not insisting on some specific  
result you must "find".

On Aug 4, 2006, at 8:19 AM, new.morning wrote:

> Relevance for MUM /TMO salaried researchers.
> Simply Disclosing
> Funds Behind Studies
> May Not Erase Bias
> August 4, 2006; Page A11
> Think you can't be bought for the price of a pen? Neither do most
> people. But we can be notoriously poor at judging ourselves, and our
> honesty, psychologists say.
> For example, biomedical researchers reprimanded for failing to
> disclose financial ties to companies whose drugs or medical devices
> they study seem baffled over what they did wrong.
> In the past few weeks, several top journals have published corrections
> noting that authors of papers failed to reveal they had served as paid
> consultants or speakers for companies whose products they studied,
> often receiving thousands of dollars. Such conflicts of interest are
> emerging as a major concern in research.
> Studies show that even small gifts create feelings of obligation, and
> that those feelings can influence subsequent decisions, so why do many
> researchers feel they're immune to conflicts of interest?
> Just as we fool ourselves into thinking we're more ethical, kind and
> generous than we are, so scientists can be blind to the very real
> possibility that their work is inappropriately influenced by financial
> ties. These psychological processes usually operate so subtly that
> people aren't aware that such ties can bias their judgment.
> Receiving gifts and money creates the desire, often unconscious, to
> give something back, says Max Bazerman of Harvard Business School.
> Even small gifts can have an influence. Charities that send out free
> address labels, for example, get more in donations than those that
> don't. Customers who are given a 50-cent key chain at a pharmacy spend
> substantially more in the store.
> Conflicts can be hard to recognize, because "cognitive bias" comes
> into play. "The mind has an enormous ability to see the world as we
> want," says Dr. Bazerman.
> We are more likely to scrutinize information when it's inconsistent
> with how we want to see things, something psychologists call motivated
> skepticism. If a study about an anticipated new drug is sponsored by
> the manufacturer, "we don't kick into a higher gear of criticism,"
> says psychologist David Dunning of Cornell University. "We just accept
> the findings" if they are positive, without digging too hard for
> possible flaws in methodology or statistics.
> Studies of psychiatric drugs by researchers with a financial conflict
> of interest -- receiving speaking fees, owning stock, or being
> employed by the manufacturer -- are nearly five times as likely to
> find benefits in taking the drugs as studies by researchers who don't
> receive money from the industry, according to a review of 162 studies
> published last year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Studies
> that the industry funded, but in which the researchers had no other
> financial ties, didn't have significantly different results than
> nonindustry-funded studies.
> Studies can be designed in ways that boost the likelihood that results
> will come out a certain way, says Lisa Bero of the University of
> California, San Francisco. A new treatment can be compared with a
> placebo, instead of with a treatment already in use, making finding a
> significant statistical difference between the two more likely. Dosage
> and timing of medications, which make a big difference in their
> effectiveness and side effects, can also be manipulated, she says.
> While studies in reputable journals are reviewed by experts in the
> field prior to publication, data require interpretation, which opens
> the door to subjectivity. If the numbers don't show an overall benefit
> of a drug, for instance, scientists with financial ties to the company
> might dig deeper to find one, perhaps to one small group, say, white
> women over 50 years of age.
> Because it's rare for studies to show that one variable clearly causes
> an outcome, there's always room for doubt. Conflicted individuals,
> says Prof. Bazerman, "continue to have doubts long after objective
> observers are convinced by the evidence," as when some tobacco
> executives refused to admit that smoking is related to risk of cancer.
> But simply disclosing financial ties, as many journals require of
> authors, may not help. In fact, it may make things worse. For one
> thing, readers don't know how much, if at all, a conflict has skewed
> the reported results.
> In a 2005 experiment done by Harvard's Daylian Cain and colleagues,
> volunteers were given advice about how much money was in a jar of
> coins. In some cases, the advisers were unconflicted, and the
> volunteers used the advice to make good guesses about the coins (which
> they saw only fleetingly and from a distance). In other cases, the
> advisers had a monetary incentive to overestimate the value of the
> coins. The volunteers knew this, and adjusted the advice downward. But
> they didn't adjust enough, and overestimated the value.
> Disclosure poses another problem: It may unconsciously tempt
> researchers to exaggerate their findings or put an even more
> pro-company spin on their data to counteract the expected reader
> skepticism. "If disclosure encourages you to cover your ears, it makes
> me shout louder," Dr. Cain says.
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