We all are aware of recent cases of fraud in science. The case of cloning in South Korea is the most recent one, but not the first or the last to happen. Identifying those cases is hard, since most of the times the verification of the claims is a long time-consuming process. Very recently, Robert L. Park has identified some warning signs about a scientific discoverythat can make us doubt about the scientific soundness of it, since they indicate that a scientific claim lies well outside the bounds of rational scientific discourse:
- The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media
- The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work
- The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection
- Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal
- The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries
- The discoverer has worked in isolation
- The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation
Several examples with all or several of these red lights come to my mind. And I have the feeling that they are more frequent nowadays.
Note: Robert L. Park is a professor of Physics at University of Maryland and the director of public information for the American Physical Society.