Are scientists lying more than ever?

Study of retracted papers shows huge jump in fraud since 2007

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Jogalekar writes:

Biomedical research is likely going to continue to invite fraud because of its sheer and growing complexity. In addition the monetary benefits, fame and visibility associated with potentially important results in fields like caloric restriction are immense, leading to even more opportunities for fraud and wishful thinking.

However, the emphasis on biomedical research should not blind us to the greater problem the journal points to; the pervasive culture of publish-or-perish and grantsmanship that often views research as a zero-sum game. Science has very much turned into a high-stakes competitive business. More than ever, researchers are competing against each other for funding, resources, grants and publicity.

One unanswered question is what percentage of published papers have been retracted in the time frame studied. I would hope and expect that it's a tiny fraction. Still, the trend is troubling doesn't bode well for the reputation of scientific inquiry or its ability to positively shape social policy. It hands a potent weapon to malevolent skeptics and deniers who seek to discredit legitimate scientific findings for their own selfish or greedy purposes.

And that's not good for the rest of us.

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