Adventures in Ethics and Science

Talk amongst yourselves.

I’m hammering away at the next edition of Tangled Bank (going up tomorrow) — plus, you know, teaching and stuff — but I wanted to give you a little something to work on. From New Scientist:

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.

Comments

  1. #1 ms
    January 31, 2006

    This isn’t exactly related to the post – I was just wondering, how did you change from chemistry to philosophy? What little career steps were involved — if you don’t mind my asking.

    - From an academic considering a career change.

  2. #2 MT
    February 3, 2006

    It’s not as if we have the statistics to say one way or the other, but these sensations happen over and over. Awhile back there was David Baltimore and more recently the physicist at Bell Labs with pubs in Science (Nature?). Then didn’t the Amazing Randy debunk a scientist or two? Something to do with structuring water or homepathy and the editor of Nature getting involved. I dunno. This Korea thing strikes me as so utterly familiar I don’t even care to know the details.

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