And good on them for saying so! It's not just academia. Government scientists get placed under the same pressures, because that's part of the marketing that gets them more funding. Require young scientists to publish X times per year, slam a paper through what amounts to a sham peer review, stick the top agency dog's imprimatur on as lead author, and BAM! You can create a 'dire need', a 'pandemic', or all the media blurbs you could ask for - and with an official seal on the whole deal. And better yet, if it's a contentious issue, you can scare the bejeezus out of the editorial staff of a good many journals which might otherwise be tempted to publish opposing papers.
A good example of where this can affect the public was seen with the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Former officers (not a member majority) of that organization can spend hundreds of thousands on public relations and lobbying each year, while simultaneously setting standards of care for entire States Worker's Comp programs (California has been one of those). If the insurers don't like it? Be certain, there will be publication to support their preferences. (And in that particular case, also offer Continuing Medical Education credits for seminars promoting your favored views.) Then, as past President T. Guidotti and others did, get yourself on some working panels at the CDC or DHS so you can help set agendas. Oh, and also campaign for that very ratings-via-cites system Schekman criticizes -
"...But Schekman said it was "toxic influence" on science that "introduced a distortion". He writes: "A paper can become highly cited because it is good science - or because it is eye-catching, provocative, or wrong. ...."
This kind of scenario helped create 'the obesity epidemic' causing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually (later a page 6 retraction), the SARS 'pandemic' that never was, bad reporting of contaminant levels in Baltimore area water supplies, and claims that water-damaged buildings aren't harmful to humans (tell it to the people of post-Katrina New Orleans). A GAO investigation moved that last item over to the EPA over precisely such shenanigans.
At least we could say the NSA scandals were always political at root. But this is supposed to be Science. Problem is, democratizing science doesn't work - it's not a popularity contest. Capitalizing science doesn't work in basic research - science is not a profit center. All any of this does is turn social and career agendas into funding magnets, deflate the basic drives of young scientists entering their respective fields, while basic research suffers, professionals get mis-educated, and yes - people do get harmed as a result.
Higgs and Schekman rock! High time it got said. (Thanks, Maggie! I got 2 new heros today!)