Science is not broken

Aeon has a long article by Jill Neumark, titled “The retraction war”, which asks: “Is science broken?” The article goes through several ways of counting scientific retractions, and notes that a major problem is that many scientists continue to cite retracted papers without noting that they have been retracted.

Retraction matters so much to so many because the scientific enterprise is key to our survival, and so that enterprise must be sound.

Honesty and openness both make the scientific process work more smoothly, enabling more independent people to examine and understand results and their importance. This helps to direct resources and interest to questions and methods that lead to new discoveries and knowledge.

Still, science is hard to break. Its method is resilient because it doesn’t depend on trust, it depends on replication. Neumark’s article also covers how replication studies have a lack of perceived value. A culture of non-replication is much more dangerous to science than retractions.