YOU could be forgiven for thinking that scientific fraud was in fashion. Weeks after the cloning superstar Woo Suk Hwang admitted faking research using human embryos, doubts have been cast over two other high-profile scientists.
Jon Sudbo of the Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, has already admitted inventing a study into whether anti-inflammatory drugs can improve the prognosis for oral cancer patients, which was published in The Lancet in 2005. But fresh concerns have now been raised over papers published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2001 and April 2004 and the Journal of Clinical Oncology in October 2005.
Meanwhile on Monday, the newspaper Japan Today alleged that Kazunari Taira, a biochemist at the University of Tokyo, faked his research into coaxing E. coli bacteria to produce a human enzyme called Dicer. A university investigation team is preparing a report on the matter.
Has peer pressure replaced peer review? (“All the cool scientists are covered by the major networks!”) Is this evidence of a new epidemic of cheating, or of a new epidemic of catching cheaters? Or is this all a ploy to distract us from the hurried development of a super-secret weapon by which the scientists will finally zap scientific literacy directly into our skulls, the better to get new recruits? (“One of us! One of us!”)
Report your findings in the comments.