Monday, January 2, 2012

If A Scientific Finding Was Retracted, They Know it Must Be True


Christopher Wanjeck lists the five biggest retractions of science in 2011. Some were honest errors, others were likely fraud. Here are the inaccurate findings that were later retracted:

(a) Closing medical marijuana dispensaries increases crime
(b) Butterflies once accidentally mated with worms, thereby creating caterpillars
(c) Appendicitis should be treated with antibiotics rather than surgery
(d) Litter breeds crime and discrimination
(e) Chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus

In those circles where putative findings are embraced not for truth value but for emotional impact and political utility, a retraction is the ultimate confirmation that a study's results are true. After all "they" (there is always a "they") couldn't deal with the truth, so they had it suppressed. The surgeons' guild had the guy who promoted antibiotics discredited, the pharmaceutical industry smeared the people who proved that CFS is caused by a virus, and the vicious drug warriors threatened the marijuana researchers into withdrawing their dispensaries and crime study results.


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