WIRED
Retraction Heroes Image Credit: WIRED
Retraction Heroes Image Credit: WIRED

Retraction Heroes

They Have the Guts to Say 'i'm Wrong'

Clive Thompson

 WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN you discover you’re wrong? That’s a conundrum Daniel Bolnick recently faced. He’s an evolutionary biologist,and in 2009 he published a paper with a cool finding: Fish with different diets have quite different body types. Biologists had suspected this for years, but Bolnick offered strong confirmation by collecting tons of data and plotting it on a chart for all to see. Science for the win! ¶ The problem was, he’d made a huge blunder. When a colleague tried to replicate Bolnick’s analysis in 2016, he couldn’t. Bolnick investigated his original work and, in a horrified instant, recognized his mistake: a single miswritten line of computer code. “I’d totally messed up,” he realized. ¶ But here’s the thing: Bolnick immediately owned up to it. He contacted the publisher, which on November 16, 2016,retracted the paper. Bolnick was mortified. But, he tells me, it was the right thing to do. ¶ Why do I recount this story? Because I think society ought to give Bolnick some sort of a prize. We need moral examples of people who can admit when they’re wrong. We need more Heroes of Retraction. ¶ Right now soc


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