Thursday, August 23, 2012

Retractions, while sometimes necessary, are never as good as the real thing

Since starting this blog, I've become quite the fan of the website Retraction Watch.

One of the more interesting ongoing stories has been the number of retractions from Dipak Das, the UCONN researcher who faces massive misconduct charges for fabricating data in his research about the health benefits of red wine.

His current retraction count stands at 13 papers, with 145 counts of misconduct being investigated.

While the role of his work in the field is contested, one can't debate that his results were widely reported and certainly helped with the public perception that red wine is good for you.  Thus, I found it interesting that Jezebel was running an article at the same time about the further proof that red wine is good for you.  In the background they mention some of the studies that Das did, that have since been retracted.  Not that this is necessarily their fault....recently it was found that only a quarter of retracted articles in online databases carry a retraction notice, and this drops to 5% if you look at downloadable PDFs.

People have complained about this with newspapers for years....large headlines, little tiny retractions...but with the ever increasing retraction rate and the centrality of the internet, this is liable to get worse before it gets better.


  1. Wait a minute.

    Is that the source of all those "red wine is good for you" news stories over the past decade?

  2. Speaking of retractions -- check this out from a recent posting on Atlantic Online. Made me think of you and this post.