Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Looking at science fraud through rose-colored glasses?

An article by MICHELLE CHEN in Newsday doesn't quite get things right on science fraud.

In the text:

But Hwang's work, despite bioethical shadiness, also left behind an unintentional legacy: last fall, Harvard research scientists concluded that Hwang's team had stumbled upon a method of parthenogenesis--the creation of an embryo from an egg without fertilization by a sperm--which could also have implications for future medical research.

she repeats the falsity that Harvard identified the parthenogenesis angle. In fact, SNU did.


Wade mucks up Hwang parthenogenesis story

Of the text on Schon --But his wiz-kid status instantly fizzled when an investigation uncovered that his research findings were marred with falsified data and scientific misconduct.--, people had suspected fraud by Schon well BEFORE the Beasley report.

Of Imanishi-Kari, she wasn't exactly "cleared." There was insufficient evidence to demonstrate fraud. There were in fact a lot of problems with the paper in Cell.

Das wrote in Newsday of Schon:

I knew Schon, because I worked at Bell Labs at the time. Fraudsters often are young, charismatic schemers, and he was no exception. He was caught because his claims couldn't be reproduced - a common way of discovering deception, since science relies on repeatability. Many other scams are discovered through the actions of whistle-blowers..

Schon was caught because someone inside of Bell Labs contacted someone at Princeton about the copied graphs. When this copying was confirmed, Schon unravelled. Various people had failed to reproduce Schon LONG BEFORE THAT, but nothing was done. Saying that Schon was caught BECAUSE the work could not be reproduced simply is not true.


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