Tuesday, September 20, 2011

B - Can a scientific retraction change public opinion?

Harmon K. Impact factor: can a scientific retraction change public opinion? Scientific American March 4, 2010

The article discusses the effect that scientific retractions have on public opinion. After initial findings are published part of the readers will not change their mind even if the paper is retracted. The paper's influence on the public may last for awhile, despite a growing contrary evidence. The recent retraction of a key paper proposing a link between childhood vaccines and autism has widened the societal divide on this issue. The number of retractions have been increasing but they are just the tip of the iceberg: a study showed that about 2% of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once.

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