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Arsenic-Friendly Microbe Now Seems Unlikely 122

Posted by timothy
from the but-it-sure-sounded-cool-at-the-time dept.
The Associated Press (as carried by the Washington Post) reports that the controversial report of arsenic-based life-forms in a California lake (much hyped by NASA) look suddenly less controversial, but in a way that will disappoint those who hoped that such an unexpected thing had actually been found on earth. Instead, the journal Science "released two papers that rip apart the original research. They 'clearly show' that the bacteria can't use arsenic as the researchers claimed, said an accompanying statement from the journal." USA Today's version of the story points out that the claim, and subsequent considered rejection of that claim as unsupportable, "looks like a case study in how science corrects its mistakes."
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Arsenic-Friendly Microbe Now Seems Unlikely

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  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday July 09, 2012 @02:57AM (#40589079)
    I realize this is the internet, and we slashdotters have a reputation to maintain, but seriously... ask yourself if you're proud of that statement. It's a scientist who happens to be female, and your first thought that you share with the world is on her looks?
  • by CheshireDragon (1183095) on Monday July 09, 2012 @03:09AM (#40589111) Homepage
    That is the one thing great about science. Science admits its wrongs...

    Religion simply can not do that because GOD IS NEVER WRONG...grrrrr blarggggg ahhhhhhh
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:03AM (#40589297)

    The original study was published in Science, one of the most prestigious journals with high rejection rate. Just another proof highly selective journals by commercial publishers don't decide to publish based on technical correctness but on trendiness. Sensationalistic papers are accepted even if they are technically incorrect, technically correct but non trendy ones are rejected because they're too boring. This is the biggest problem with commercial scientific publishing, they have no incentive to publish correct science, only incentives to publish science that get them in the newpapers.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday July 09, 2012 @04:33AM (#40589415) Homepage
    Well, she apparently can't do the Science for crap, so she needs something to fall back on.
  • by starless (60879) on Monday July 09, 2012 @08:06AM (#40590431)

    The original study was published in Science, one of the most prestigious journals with high rejection rate. Just another proof highly selective journals by commercial publishers don't decide to publish based on technical correctness but on trendiness. Sensationalistic papers are accepted even if they are technically incorrect, technically correct but non trendy ones are rejected because they're too boring. This is the biggest problem with commercial scientific publishing, they have no incentive to publish correct science, only incentives to publish science that get them in the newpapers.

    I think that you're way overstating this. Although Science (and Nature) definitely want to publish high-impact science, and there's usually a need to do things very quickly, which increases the chance of error, papers are heavily refereed. The paper would have been sent to 3 referees, and to have the paper published, at least 2 of them would typically have had to agree to publication. In addition, "interesting" papers have a higher chance of being wrong that a run-of-the-mill paper appearing in some other journal which has no surprising results.

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