I stumbled across this article in Slate today, where a leading environmental activist professes he was wrong about opposing genetically modified crops. In and of itself, it's an outstanding, and seemingly courageous thing to do.
I say "seemingly" because, in truth, this is how science should always
be. The steadfast adherence to a particularly belief is one of the most
dangerous things in science, and one that far too many scientists are
guilty of. I understand, I really do. It's difficult to write something
and then go back later and say that maybe you were wrong. But the point
is, barring truly poor or fraudulent science, studies aren't ever wrong--they
just all provide different results. The entire point of the scientific
method is to replicate until the preponderance of the evidence suggests a
particular hypothesis to be true.
Unfortunately, we live in a
scientific world where novelty is valued over replication, regardless of
what it means for a particular hypothesis. I do believe we are making
some strides, particularly with the advent of journals whose purpose is
publish either negative findings, or to publish other things that might
not get much interest but are still scientifically sound.
have begun to pay more attention to this phenomenon, I've become more
determined to not allow myself to fall prey to this pressure. I hope,
throughout my career, that I will be able to recognize and admit when I
am wrong, and that I will always work towards doing the right things, as
a scientist. I probably won't have a very storied career, but at least
I'll know I've done well.