It matters not one whit to the ethics of data faking if you were correct
May 12, 2010
Something that arose in the comments after my last post on the Brodie affair was underlined in the newspaper report from 2007.
Oddly enough, Brodie’s conclusions were found to be correct and supported by later research, said UW professor Lawrence Corey, head of the UW’s virology division in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, in The Seattle Times. Brodie worked in Corey’s retrovirus laboratory.
“Did he set back crucial research? The answer is no,” Corey said in the Times article.
Corey, btw, was the substitute PI for one year of one of the Brodie NIH grants.
And it isn’t just this case either. This theme that the faked data supported conclusions that were correct anyway can be seen elsewhere. The Linda Buck laboratory retraction that PhysioProf described long ago featured this, as the author suspected of data fakery claimed to be working on replacement data that would prove he was right. There are several cases of errata and even retractions being followed up with replacement figures or papers showing the original purported data could be replicated.
I smell an implication in these situations that we are supposed to modulate our ire at the original data faking simply because the authors’ conclusions were supportable by later investigations.
Bah, I say. Bah.