The Economist recently suggested that the cure for reproducibility problems for scientific studies may lie in dispensing with peer review, “in favour of post-publication evaluation in the form of appended comments.” But correcting the record, and public perception after the fact is not an easy task.
Despite nearly constant refutations, disbarments and retractions, we still have a significant population that believes in a connection between vaccines and autism. And the New York Times has recently offered a feature on one of the great misunderstood legal cases in recent history:
More than 20 years ago, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck ordered coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through in Albuquerque, N.M. She spilled the coffee, was burned, and one year later, sued McDonald’s. The jury awarded her $2.9 million. Her story became a media sensation and fodder for talk-show hosts, late-night comedians, sitcom writers and even political pundits. But cleverness may have come at the expense of context.
The video below shows how a relatively clear cut case of corporate negligence was (and remains) twisted to suit different agendas. Something to consider when thinking about a “publish everything, sort it out later” approach to the literature.