December 24, 2005
FRAUD WITH AN IMPRIMATUR (via Robert Schwartz):
Global Trend: More Science, More Fraud (LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN and WILLIAM J. BROAD, December 20, 2005, NY Times)
The South Korean scandal that shook the world of science last week is just one sign of a global explosion in research that is outstripping the mechanisms meant to guard against error and fraud.
Experts say the problem is only getting worse, as research projects, and the journals that publish the findings, soar.
Science is often said to bar dishonesty and bad research with a triple safety net. The first is peer review, in which experts advise governments about what research to finance. The second is the referee system, which has journals ask reviewers to judge if manuscripts merit publication. The last is replication, whereby independent scientists see if the work holds up.
But a series of scientific scandals in the 1970's and 1980's challenged the scientific community's faith in these mechanisms to root out malfeasance. In response the United States has over the last two decades added extra protections, including new laws and government investigative bodies.
And as research around the globe has increased, most without the benefit of such safeguards, so have the cases of scientific misconduct.
Boy, you've really got to be faith-addled to think that science will become any more reliable just because government gets involved. Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2005 9:43 AM