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Dr Obokata


Would you mind sitting here? I’m saving this seat for my friend Ross.
You mean, Dr. Geller?
Doctor? I didn’t know he had a nickname.
Oh, he won’t sit here. Only the people in the white coats sit over there and only the people with the blue blazers sit over here.

日本だと小保方氏と報道されることが多いですが、Economist最新号ではDr Obokataとなっていました。インターネットがピアレビューの役割を果たすことになった例の一つとして取り上げられています。

When science gets it wrong
Let the light shine in
Two big recent scientific results are looking shaky—and it is open peer review on the internet that has been doing the shaking
Jun 14th 2014

In April a RIKEN committee concluded that Dr Obokata had twice manipulated her data in an intentionally misleading fashion, something they classed as research misconduct. The more light that was shone on the papers, the weaker the claims became. Although Dr Obokata had defended her work, her co-authors were divided on whether formally to retract the papers. On June 4th she reportedly agreed to withdraw both (although as The Economist went to press both were still available, unchanged, on Nature’s website).


No one is accusing Dr Kovac and his colleagues of the sort of sharp practice for which Dr Obokata was censured. Instead, the argument is about whether their results were really solid enough to justify the rapturous reception they were given, says Katherine Mack, an astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne. But both cases reflect the rise of open, post-publication review on Facebook and Twitter, by e-mail, on blogs, and in the comments sections of websites like arXiv, which hosts preprints of papers in physics and mathematics. As Paul Knoepfler, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, whose blog was used to co-ordinate the efforts of those trying to replicate Dr Obokata’s work, puts it, “I suspect that if published even five years ago, the [stem cell] papers’ serious problems would have gone unnoticed for far longer.”

科学は知的好奇心を満たすものと言うのは分かりますが、公金を使っていることも事実です。“Trust, but verify.”の精神は大事ですよね。

The public, however, pay for most of this stuff. That open peer review gives them a glimpse into the reality of life inside the ivory tower is probably a good thing. Despite the activities of people like Dr Obokata, science is one of the most trustworthy human activities. But as Ronald Reagan put it in a different context, “Trust, but verify.”