Retracting findings after 52 years

What would you do if you realized you'd made a mistake in a paper you wrote half a century ago? When an 84-year-old retired chemist Googled himself ("I wanted to see, what have I done in all these many years?"

By | October 25, 2007

What would you do if you realized you'd made a mistake in a paper you wrote half a century ago? When an 84-year-old retired chemist Googled himself ("I wanted to see, what have I done in all these many years?") he wasn't so happy with what he found, linkurl:The New York Times;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/science/25jacobson.html?ref=science reports. A paper of his, published in American Scientist in 1955, had become fodder for creationist arguments about the origin of life. But not only had Homer Jacobson?s speculations about the chemistry on prehistoric Earth fallen into what some would call the wrong hands, upon rereading the article Jacobson realized it contained some serious errors. So he's retracting two passages from it. He explains in his linkurl:retraction letter;http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/56234 that the first passage was entirely conjectural, and the logic in the second passage was "completely inapplicable." "I am deeply embarrassed to have been the originator of such misstatements, allowing bad science to have come into the purview of those who use it for anti-science ends," he writes.

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