Raw data dangers (2 of 2)

May 19, 2011

Your article "To get to the truth, open up" (Leader, 5 May) seems to reflect society's preconceived ideas about science and scientists, rather than the actualities of scientific research. Scientists have long acknowledged their fallibility as researchers, hence the oft-repeated maxim: "The only scientist who is never wrong is one who never publishes."

While I agree that openness and candour among scientists should always be the expectation, flawed, misconceived and (rarely) falsified studies and results will for ever be a feature of science (and all human endeavours).

This should not be taken as representative of all science, however. John Ioannidis claims that most published research findings are false, based on a view limited to the biomedical field. I note that, logically, his argument must also apply to his own findings.

Jeff Ollerton, Reader in biodiversity, University of Northampton

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