The New York Times reports:
Last year the journal Nature reported an alarming increase in the number of retractions of scientific papers — a tenfold rise in the previous decade, to more than 300 a year across the scientific literature…
In the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two scientists and a medical communications consultant analyzed 2,047 retracted papers in the biomedical and life sciences. They found that misconduct was the reason for three-quarters of the retractions for which they could determine the cause…
Dr. Arturo Casadevall of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx … and another author, Dr. Ferric C. Fang of the University of Washington, have been outspoken critics of the current culture of science. To them, the rising rate of retractions reflects perverse incentives that drive scientists to make sloppy mistakes or even knowingly publish false data….
While the fraudulent papers may be relatively few, [Casadevall] went on, their rapid increase is a sign of a winner-take-all culture in which getting a paper published in a major journal can be the difference between heading a lab and facing unemployment. “Some fraction of people are starting to cheat,” he said.
I wonder which branch of science offers the most incentives to scientists making the wildest claims? Which offers the biggest grants, the greatest government support, the most lavish media coverage….
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.