Altman, Lawrence K. "Panel to Study Report that Drug Aids Paralytics," New York Times, 4
September 1982, p. 22.
This is a "there-may-be-something-wrong-in-science" article. The reporter is saying that a young
biochemist, N. Eric Naftchi, Ph. D., has written a "gee whiz" article which has been published in
Science. Now NYU, his ultimately employer (he actually works at the Rusk Institute) wants to
see his data. Officials at the University won't say that there is something definitely wrong but
they do want to confirm his amazing findings. Naftchi reports his own data on rats, and
videotapes on some 30 human patients, all of whom have reportedly responded well to treatment
of spinal cord injury with a new drug. The University and the Institute want more information
and have appointed a committee to look into Naftchi's work. The committee is to report back in
about a month.
This is what happens when one writes an important report. It is wiser to do only mediocre science
if one wants to keep committees off one's back. Naftchi has brought a great deal of attention to
himself with his claims, and reporters have already begun the task of checking up on him. For
example, when interviewed, he claimed that one of the videotapes on a human subject was
provided by the Chair of Neurosurgery at NYU. However, when asked about this, the Chair
denied any participation. Furthermore, he even denied knowing Naftchi.