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Scientific Frauds
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rynner
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PostPosted: 01-10-2002 19:48    Post subject: Scientific Frauds Reply with quote

An American researcher into organic supercooled semiconductors fabricated his results.
Quote:
THE sound of swallowed pride is rare but welcome. Bell Laboratories, one of the most venerable names in science, the home of the transistor and currently the research arm of Lucent Technologies, is prouder than many. But it has been taken for an enormous ride, and on September 25th it had the grace to admit it.

That was the day that a report into the activities of Jan Hendrik Schön, one of the laboratory's highest-flying physicists, was released. Dr Schön has spent the past few years turning out results of a quantity and apparent quality that were, until a few months ago, universally acknowledged to be worthy of a Nobel prize. Unfortunately, he seems to have made them up.

.....

Dr Schön's first bucky-superconductor “worked” at 11° above absolute zero. Through a carefully staged set of “improvements” to the technique, he got this up to 117°—well into the liquid nitrogen zone. Buckyballs are a discovery looking for an application, and it seemed as though Dr Schön alone had found one.

And that last sentence holds the key to the fraud. For modern science is generally a collaborative effort. All of Dr Schön's 90 papers had co-authors—people who should, if things had worked the way they are supposed to, have been able to vouch for the quality of the research. But in practice, Dr Schön was actually working by himself. As the Beasley inquiry report puts it: “None of the most significant physical results was witnessed by any co-author or other colleague.” That did not stop them putting their names to the work, though.

....

Mistakes happen. The important thing is to learn from them. There are probably two lessons to learn from this sordid episode. The first, in case anybody had forgotten, is that scientists are humans too. Some of them will do stupid and mendacious things. The second, and more important lesson, is that you can't cheat nature.

Full story.
_________________________________________________

There have been other scientific frauds. Perhaps the Piltdown Man is best known. Discuss them on this thread!
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mejane1Offline
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PostPosted: 01-10-2002 20:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cold fusion? Anti-gravity? Various perpetual-motion machines?

(The latter is quite easy - take one large dog and one small child; put into garden - I guarantee that they will come into the house an hour later with more energy than when they went out :p )

I think one of the problems with modern science is the constant need to publish, often before results can be verified or repeated. The pressure on a Phd student to add his/her name to a mentor's paper must be huge, as must be the pressure on the mentor to prove his/her pet theory.

Scientists, of course, are supposed to look at the theory, test it to destruction, and if necessary formulate a new theory. Sadly, that's not always possible. Nobody ever got a grant for proving such-and-such wasn't important.

Jane.
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H_JamesOffline
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PostPosted: 01-10-2002 21:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely forget names and all, but there was the guy who in the 70s was up for a big prize for his "proof" that he could transplant one mouse's skin onto another with zero rejection: ie from a mous with black fur onto one with white fur. He was discovered painting black onto white mice with a marker.
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 03-10-2002 02:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone posted on the forum a story that people with blond hair would die out in two hundred years. It's been all over the press and the internet lately. According to Newsweek there's not a world of truth in it. This is not so much a fraud as what appears to be a very effective hoax.

'In the end, it seems it was just another dumb blond joke. The World Health Organization, the Geneva-based health arm of the United Nations, insists that despite the many media reports to the contrary, it has never conducted a study predicting the extinction of the natural blond hair gene.

The agency's statement was made after newspapers, networks and Web sites around the world cited WHO research stating that natural blonds would become extinct by 2202.

WHO “has no knowledge of how these news reports originated, but would like to stress that we have no opinion on the future existence of blonds,” it said in a statement released at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The Washington Post reported that WHO had traced the story to an account Thursday on a German wire service, which in turn was based on a 2-year-old article in the German women’s magazine Allegra, which in turn cited a WHO anthropologist. But agency spokeswoman Rebecca Harding told the Post that she could find no record of such a man working for WHO.

The “blond extinction” report took on the character of a media-fueled urban legend, sparking comment in British tabloids as well as on CBS, CNN and ABC. The New York Post labeled the supposed study a “Blonde Bombshell.” '
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rynner
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PostPosted: 03-10-2002 06:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating stuff, Wastrel! It sounded so plausible, too!
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rynner
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PostPosted: 05-10-2002 19:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

NASA told fibs about the Face on Mars.
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Ronson8Offline
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PostPosted: 05-10-2002 19:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner wrote:

NASA told fibs about the Face on Mars.


Probably a white lie though, NASA were just trying to short circuit a silly story.
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 05-10-2002 19:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

p.younger wrote:

Probably a white lie though, NASA were just trying to short circuit a silly story.


Oh! well, thats allright then.
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 05-10-2002 21:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

face on mars and photo fraud

Yeah, Nasa deserve what is coming to them- they have always treated photographs as pieces of public relations rather than scientific records of fact-
some of the pictures that came back from the moon were badly tidied up to go on the cover of magazines using the technology that they had then-
after thirty odd years it's not surprising people have cooked up conspiracy theories saying the pictures weren't taken on the moon.
If Nasa tried it nowadays with todays technology no-one would be able to tell a fake from the real thing.
In fact photographic evidence nowadays is more or less worthless, and it will get worse as time progresses.

(Be interested in everything, believe nothing.)

steve b
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naitakaOffline
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PostPosted: 01-11-2002 19:33    Post subject: Physicist accused of fraud Reply with quote

"Two prestigious science journals are issuing retractions of several papers by a noted nanotechnology researcher in what could be one of the worst cases of scientific deception ever uncovered.

The journal Science issued a terse half-page retraction today of eight papers by Hendrik Schon, while another batch of retractions is in the works at the British journal Nature. Editors say they are finalizing wordings on retractions that will recant a number of Dr. Schon's papers.

Dozens of scientists have been implicated in the scandal by signing as co-authors on to scientific papers shown to contain false data.

And the credibility of leading journals has been badly tarnished, along with their vaunted peer-review process that is supposed to ensure only the most important, and credible, scientific advances make it to print..."

http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=CED25DD1-492B-48E9-8A7D-D030CEF49E32
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rynner
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PostPosted: 02-11-2002 19:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bump! Naitaka's post added to earlier thread.
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rynner
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PostPosted: 24-11-2002 14:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

(New York Times)
After Two Scandals, Physics Group Expands Ethics Guidelines
By DENNIS OVERBYE


Jarred by scandals at two prestigious physics laboratories, the council of the American Physical Society, which represents the nation's 40,000 physicists, issued a set of revised and expanded ethical guidelines for researchers last week.

Scientific misconduct "diminishes the vital trust that scientists have in each other" and undermines public confidence, the council said. It called for more ethics training in science and urged all research institutions to adopt procedures based on the Federal Policy on Research Misconduct that the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued in 2000 and applies to all federal agencies and the research they support.

The physicists' group issued ethical guidelines in 1987 and 1991, said Dr. James Tsang, an I.B.M. physicist who heads a panel on public affairs, but the members were unclear on what to do about scientific misconduct. "We needed to point out what good practice was in handling allegations of misconduct," he said. The federal policy, he added, has many specifics.

The old guidelines regarding authorship of scientific papers, Dr. Tsang added, mostly addressed papers by a single author. But as science has grown more complicated, the number of people involved in a project and writing the paper on it has mushroomed. The new guidelines are meant to clarify co-authors' roles and duties.

Acknowledging that in a big project no one is an expert on every aspect, the new policy calls for treading a narrow line between blind trust in colleagues and absolute suspicion. "All collaborators bear some degree of responsibility for any paper they author," the guidelines state.

"While not all co-authors may be familiar with all aspects of the research presented in their paper," the guidelines continue, "all collaboration should have in place an appropriate process for reviewing and ensuring the accuracy of the reported results, and all co-authors should be aware of this process."

"It's really a reminder," Dr. Tsang said, "to the more senior collaborators that when you put your name on a paper your reputation is on the line."

Although that might seem like a simple thought, physicists were shocked by accusations of fraud against researchers at two labs. One, Dr. J. Hendrik Schön of Bell Labs, was fired, and more than a dozen published papers were retracted after a panel found that he had made up data on the properties on superconductivity and organic electronics.

In July, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory retracted a report that they had created the heaviest atom yet, element 118, when they learned that the crucial data analysis, by Dr. Victor Ninov, could not be confirmed. He was also discharged.

Dr. Tsang called the guidelines "a work in progress." At the society meeting in March, a prime evening slot often devoted to talks by Nobel Prize winners, will be on scientific misconduct, he said.


Last edited by rynner on 24-11-2002 14:45; edited 1 time in total
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intaglioreallyOffline
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PostPosted: 24-11-2002 16:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about Milikan (no, not Milligan - Robert Milikan) won the Nobel for measuring the charge of the electron. Recently they found he was - um - selective with the data he used.
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 24-11-2002 16:53    Post subject: Idle thought Reply with quote

Why would NASA be so keen to completely debunk the Face on Mars anyway? Whenever I've seen an interview with a NASA executive on any of these UFO documentaries, they've always said "If there was proof of alien life, we'd be the first to admit it because our funds are being steadily eroded."
Surely it would make more sense for them to leave the door open to possibility so they can increase public interest and then get the readies to fund another mission to check it out?
On the other hand, I guess they're too worried about scientific credibility.
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intaglioreallyOffline
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PostPosted: 24-11-2002 17:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or it could be that the secret masters do not want weakling humans to know that there once was life on Mars.
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