Nothing New About Fudging – Mass Delusions Among Scientists
I’m sure nowadays the NYT would not even mention such a book as Alexander Kohn’s “FALSE PROPHETS“, if it said anything about climate science:
BOOKS OF THE TIMES
By John Gross
Published: December 30, 1986
[…] Deceptions as blatant as this are -as far as anyone can tell – rare in the annals of science, but they represent only one end of a broad spectrum of possible scientific cheating. At the other extreme are errors that are at least partly the product of wishful thinking or a failure to guard against bias; in between come numerous gradations of what the Victorian scientist Charles Babbage classified as ”trimming” and ”cooking” (manipulating the data, suppressing inconvenient facts), along with plagiarism, making bogus claims about the probable course of research and the more subtle varieties of Babbage’s third category of misconduct, outright ”forging.”
[…] here are errors, as Mr. Kohn says, that ”are nothing to be ashamed of,” and he begins by considering some examples – in particular, those cases of collective error where a scientist’s initial mistake has been taken up and repeated by other scientists until it assumes the proportions of a mass delusion.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, for instance, some 500 publications in reputable quarters were devoted to the phenomenon of ”mitogenetic rays” – ultraviolet rays that were erroneously thought to be emitted by plant or animal cells while they were dividing. Mr. Kohn observes that ”mythogenetic rays” might have been a better name; but he also tries to account for what it was that predisposed so many scientists to believe in them, and in subsequent mirages such as ”polywater” (a supposedly anomalous form of water – one eminent authority, J. D. Bernal, referred to it as ”the most important physical chemical discovery of the century”) and ”scotophobin” (a substance said to induce fear of darkness in rats). […]
As I already said, this stuff should be mandatory reading in all science schools.