Study Shows Many Scientists Manipulate Results | The Institute for Creation Research

Study Shows Many Scientists Manipulate Results

Survey data collected from 1986 to 2005 revealed disturbing information about scientific reporting across a host of fields. Almost two percent of scientists personally admitted to having “fabricated, falsified, or modified data or results.”1 And when asked about their colleagues’ actions, the falsification figure jumped to 14 percent.

Additionally, up to 72 percent perceived their fellow scientists as guilty of other questionable research practices. An analysis of the survey data published online in PLoS ONE concluded that “it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct.”1

This study verifies the sentiment of the late evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Gould, who wrote in 1994, “The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.”2 In other words, scientists are human and capable of deception, just like people in any other field.

The published analysis also found that medical and pharmacological researchers reported a higher rate of misconduct, “supporting fears that the field of medical research is being biased by commercial interests.”3

If commercial interests can encourage the manipulation of research data, then why not other ideological interests? There have been many examples where a “scientific” conclusion was more the result of evolutionary bias than it was a deduction from the data that was examined. Fossils such as Piltdown man, Java man, Nebraska man, as well as embryonic recapitulation, vestigial organs, and the supposed evolutionary behavior of the peppered moth, were all widely-accepted evidence for evolutionary concepts until they were debunked by later research.

These are historical examples of data manipulation to fit a preselected conclusion. Coupled with the find that “around 46 per cent [of scientists] say that they have observed fellow scientists engage in…presenting data selectively or changing the conclusions of a study in response to pressure,”3 they demonstrate the potential fallibility of scientists and their dependence, like all other people, upon starting assumptions in their interpretation of data.

Of course, not all scientific investigation is skewed. On the contrary, the vast majority of descriptive studies, and most experimental investigations, yield good and useful results. However, just because a report appears in a scientific journal does not make it entirely trustworthy. It is wise to keep this in mind when it is declared that some aspect of evolution is true because “science” has proved it.

References

  1. Fanelli, D. 2009. How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS ONE. 4 (5): e5738.
  2. Gould, S. J. 1994. In the Mind of the Beholder. Natural History. 103 (2): 14.
  3. Devlin, H. One in seven scientists say colleagues fake data. Times Online. Posted on timesonline.co.uk June 4, 2009, accessed June 18, 2009.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on July 1, 2009.

The Latest
NEWS
Seafloor Spreading Matches Creation Predictions
Evolutionary scientists recently determined that seafloor spreading has been slowing down.1 And they are not exactly sure of the reason. However,...

NEWS
Remembering Patti Morse
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from...

CREATION PODCAST
What Happened with Washington's Violent Volcano? | The Creation...
How did a 1980 volcanic eruption change our understanding of geology? What impact did this event have on the age assignments of sediments? Join us for...

NEWS
Fossil Insect Predation Shows No Evidence of Evolution
Some recent science news stories have come out describing fossils of insects feeding on plants supposedly many “millions of years ago.” What...

NEWS
Adaptive Genetic and Epigenetic Changes in Plants
Being sedentary organisms, plants are essentially stuck where they are planted and need to dynamically adapt to the conditions around them to not only...

NEWS
Dr. Tim Clarey Awarded Adjunct Professor of the Year
Congratulations to ICR Research Scientist and geologist Dr. Tim Clarey! He received the Adjunct Professor of the Year award from King’s University,...

NEWS
Mars Rover Records Dramatic Solar Eclipse
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has filmed the Martian satellite (or moon) Phobos eclipsing the sun, and this short but impressive video may be viewed...

CREATION PODCAST
Darwin or Design? CET Pt. 2 | The Creation Podcast: Episode 22
How does design provide a better explanation for biological functions and adaptations than natural selection? And how can engineering principles help...

NEWS
Resurrecting “Ancient” Enzymes?
The most abundant protein on Earth is probably an enzyme (biological catalyst) called RuBisCO (or Rubisco) designed by the Creator to function in photosynthesis.1...

NEWS
Inside May-June 2022 Acts & Facts
How can Christians stand up to scientific elitism? What does the plant fossil record in Iceland tell us about the global Flood? Does a new bacterium...