Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five top science journal retractions, and ‘Dino-chickens’ for pets

                  Hello Humboldt County!

Good day to you. I’m going to quit saying good morning,  because my posts of late, have been made in the afternoon. Maybe it’s a sign. Time for change.

With a new year around the corner, changes are inevitable. To make these changes, and to survive another year full of question marks, I’ve written up a Survival Guide for 2012. Look for it in this Sunday’s Times-Standard.

Here’s today’s offerings: 

     Top science journal retractions of 2011

Bad science papers can have lasting effects. Consider the 1998 paper in the journal the Lancet that linked autism to the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. That paper was fully retracted in 2010 upon evidence that senior author Andrew Wakefield had manipulated data and breached several proper ethical codes of conduct.

Each year hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles are retracted. Most involve no blatant malfeasance; the authors themselves often detect errors and retract the paper. Some retractions, however, as documented on the blog Retraction Watch, entail plagiarism, false authorship or cooked data.

No journal is safe from retractions, from the mighty "single-word-title" journals such as Nature, Science and Cell, to the myriad minor, esoteric ones. Here are the top five examples:

#1: Chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus.

#2: Litter breeds crime and discrimination.

#3: Treat appendicitis with antibiotics, not surgery.

#4: Butterfly meets worm, falls in love, and has caterpillars.

#5: Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries lead to drop in crime.


Image: Rooster.

Dino-chicken: Wacky but serious science idea of 2011

Paleontologist Jack Horner’s newest idea takes iconoclasm to a new level. He wants, in short, to hatch a dinosaur.

Use the living dinosaurs among us to recreate creatures dead for millions of years. Anyone who's seen "Jurassic Park" knows that birds are dinosaurs, part of the evolutionary line containing those toothy Velociraptors.

LiveScience talked with Horner about his "chickenosaurus" plan and what sort of dinosaur he'd like to keep as a pet. [ Infographic: How to Make a Dino-Chicken ]

Time to walk on down the road…

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