Some interesting comments in today’s Washington Post. Thanks to Roger Pielke for the reference. Roger pointed to the following:
Rather, we need to recognize just how arduous and painstaking good science usually is and remind ourselves that data do not become dogma when published, but only when independently validated.
Quite so. The article also pointed to a "market situation" in current stem cell research, leading to rapid and uncritical promotion of "hot" studies:
As the demand for results far outstripped the ability of researchers to supply them, a seller’s market emerged in which goods were overvalued and even low-quality merchandise was snatched up by eager buyers. This is the context in which Hwang’s studies appeared.
While most in the field of stem cell research were shocked by the reports of fraud, the shock was only one of degree; it is common knowledge that the bar for publication in this field often has appeared remarkably low, with even well-respected research journals seeming to fall over one another for the privilege of publishing the next hot paper. The result of this frenzy has been an entire body of literature that is viewed with extreme skepticism by most serious stem cell investigators.
The idea of buyer’s and seller’s markets is obviously familiar to me from stock market experience. I’ve often used stock market analogies to try to explain fads. I would extend the analogy to Hockey Team multiproxy studies. The author of the article says (and I hope that this applies to millennial climate studies as well):
More likely this controversy — and the ensuing scrutiny and self-reflection — will provide exactly what our discipline needs most: the opportunity to modulate the extravagant expectations for this research while we reaffirm our underlying commitment to it…