Friend of the DoucheMonkey blog Sol Rivlin had the following to say in response to other friend of the blog Isis the Scientist’s query to her minions regarding how to handle unexpected or unplanned experimental outcomes when writing them up for publication:

As to the unexpected results. My suggestion for you is to be truthful about your intial intent and expectations and to tell the story as it happened, including the unexpected. In reality, that is exactly what happens to many of us, but too frequently, we are tempted to appear smarter than we really are, pretending that the unexpected outcome was actually very expected and that we knew exactly what will happened long before we did the experiments. Most scientists tend to lie in this way, we know they lie because we have done it ourselves and yet, we continue doing it.

That ranks among the absolute stupidest gibbering dumbfuck advice concerning manuscript preparation I have ever seen or heard.

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How To Read A Retraction II

November 21, 2008

Here’s an interesting retraction just published in the Journal of Neuroscience:

Retraction for Ma et al., Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons
Retraction: At the request of the authors, the following manuscript has been retracted: “Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons” by Xiaosong Ma, Jens Bruning, and Frances M. Ashcroft, which appeared on pages 7125-7129 of the July 4, 2007 issue.

This is it, the entire text of the retraction. There is absolutely no mention of why the paper is being retracted. People who have relied on the retracted manuscript to develop their own research conceptually and/or methodologically have been given no guidance whatsoever on what aspects of the manuscript are considered unreliable, and/or why.
Is this ethical behavior? Do the authors have an obligation to the scientific community to come clean with everything they know about the whats and whys of their retraction?
Please discuss.

The Marijuana Potency Data

November 21, 2008

You may have heard a relatively sustained drumbeat in the mainstream press reports in the past few years regarding the content of current illicit cannabis products. It has been promulgated in a PR campaign which attempts to convince baby boomers that today’s marijuana is more dangerous than that of their own misbegotten youth because it is “stronger”. In other words, higher in the concentration of the major psychoactive constituent, Δ9-THC. The subtext, I assume, is to alleviate the boomer parents of today’s teens of any guilt related to communicating seemingly hypocritical anti-dope messages. If the pot today is more dangerous, then it is not hypocritical that Daddy and Mommy used to smoke in the seventies, right?
I have an objection to one of the fundamental concepts here* which explains my laziness in never bothering to track down the data on which the assertion rests. Happily, I stumbled across the relevant source.

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