Yes, so true. Our nights at home often involve reading other people’s research for peer review. My husband is on some editorial boards and NIH study sections, and he is very skeptical of every paper. He doesn’t like to review papers from certain places because of their fraudulent activities. Medical and social science research is even dicier than your translational or basic science stuff. Most of the time, the peer review process works. Even so, conclusions are often wildly incorrect. Remember when the acid hypothesis of peptic ulcer disease was so entrenched that Dr. Marshall actually was forced to swallow H Pylori to force the establishment to consider his hypothesis? Now that is drama, and that was in the eighties. Remember the time when if we were not prescribing hormone replacement therapy we were killing our post menopausal women? Oops, ha ha. I have always been extremely conservative about “trying that cutting edge thing” because you know, I have seen a lot of this.
The big problem I see though, is that when research get politicized we are walking on very thin ice and people get entrenched in their ideology and become unwilling to consider that they might possibly not be correct. And there are a number of highly politicized research areas right now. The worst offenders seem to be sociology types, who aren’t really scientists at all, in the STEM sense of the word.