Scientists have “sinned” according to reports in, news@nature, 8 June 2005, Nature, vol 434, p737 and Yahoo News 9 Jun 2005.
Brian Martinson of the Health Partners Research Foundation, Minneapolis conducted an anonymous survey of scientists asking them if they were guilty of wrongdoings in their research. In an article entitled “One in three scientists confesses to having sinned”, Martinson reported that less than 1.5% of the 3,247 scientists who responded, confessed to actually falsifying data or to plagiarism – the most serious misbehaviours listed. But a third of the survey respondents admitted to being guilty of at least one of the ten less serious misbehaviours listed, which included overlooking use of flawed data by others, inappropriately including their names on the list of authors of a paper, inadequate record keeping, and ignoring observations because they contradicted previous results or because they had “gut feelings” they were wrong.
Significantly, 15.5% admitted they had changed design, method or results of their research in response to pressure from a funding source.
Apart from falsifying data and plagiarism, none of these activities are regarded as outright fraud, but Martinson commented that these activities “can be more corrosive to science, especially as they are so common.”
Editorial Comment: The problem of ignoring results because of “gut feelings” and inconsistencies with previous results also reminds us that by the time the results of scientific research reach the public domain they have been filtered through the biases of the researchers, as well as reporters.
Of particular importance in the creation/evolution debate is the problem of modifying scientific research to suit funding sources. Much scientific research these days is funded by organisations such as National Geographic, who are openly opposed to all creationist ideas.
This study also reminds us that “science” is not some kind of authoritative higher power, but an activity carried out by fallible, sinful human beings, whose attitude to truth and honesty will reflect those of the culture they live in. As western culture loses its Biblical creation base and takes on an Evolutionary basis it will lose its respect for truth and honesty. All human activities, including science, will degenerate because success will become measured by “survival” in the intense competition to exalt oneself above others in the “struggle for existence”.
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