Is Science Really Self-Correcting?

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Managers, journals, and colleagues are all averse to the possibility that scientific fraud is being committed.

physicist_found_guilty_miscclick for source

We’re told that science is special. Not only is it based on evidence rather than dogma – so goes the argument – it contains a built-in mechanism that identifies and corrects errors. How marvelous.

But what if this is one of those blind faith mantras that has been repeated so frequently everyone believes it’s true irrespective of the actual facts? Eugenie Samuel Reich is the author of Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World. In telling the story of a young physicist named Jan Hendrik Schön, her book demonstrates that there’s nothing systematic or straightforward about how the scientific record comes to be corrected.

Lots of people tried and failed to reproduce Schön’s work, in the process wasting months of their lives and significant portions…

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