Science ethics: Ten biggest science paper retractions of 2010


Science uses a tough system to correct errors and prevent frauds.  Peer-review makes it difficult to get a paper into a journal, period, let alone one with hoaxed-up data or conclusions.  Still, out of the tens of thousands of serious science papers published each year, a few sneak through that shouldn’t, sometimes due to researcher error, sometimes due mix-ups in peer review, sometimes — rarely — due to outright fraud.

In the past 15 months political action to fight global warming took huge hits around December 2009 when a few thousand e-mails were hacked from computers at the Hadley Climate Research Unit in England, one of the leading groups in climate research that indicates a warming Earth.   Critics of Hadley made great hay about how the alleged wrong-doing in the e-mails meant that all climate research was wrong, or at least questionable.

So, I was greatly interested to stumble across this article in The Scientist, which lists what that magazine calls the “Top Retractions of 2010” — papers retracted for errors and ethical reasons.

None of the top retractions had anything to do with climate research.  One of the most under-reported stories of 2010 was that the claims of error and fraud by climate scientists were, themselves, hoaxes.  Looking at the list of top retractions, unless you were really looking for the climate papers, you might never notice.

Most of the retractions were in medicine and health.  Several were in cancer research.  False science in climate studies does not appear to be a major problem, measured by retractions.

Those who accuse climate scientists falsely don’t really have anything to retract in a formal sense.  They did no science work that was published.

When do people wake up and realize that global warming is a real problem, and we shouldn’t be fooled by political smears of the scientists who discover the data?

One Response to Science ethics: Ten biggest science paper retractions of 2010

  1. […] Science: here are the top ten retractions from 2010; note that not one has anything to do with climate science. (hat tip: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub) […]

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