No Mere 'Mistake'

In your article concerning the investigation of Robert Gallo (The Scientist, April 13, 1992, page 3), Edward Ahrens recalls the statement of a faculty member (and appears to endorse it) who said, "After all, we have got to remember among ourselves that science is a profession where you have to put up with making mistakes all the time." Neither the case of David Baltimore nor the Gallo case is based on the kind of error one makes in the laboratory. The Baltimore case involved allegations of ou

Christian Schwabe
Jul 19, 1992

In your article concerning the investigation of Robert Gallo (The Scientist, April 13, 1992, page 3), Edward Ahrens recalls the statement of a faculty member (and appears to endorse it) who said, "After all, we have got to remember among ourselves that science is a profession where you have to put up with making mistakes all the time."

Neither the case of David Baltimore nor the Gallo case is based on the kind of error one makes in the laboratory. The Baltimore case involved allegations of outright fraud, and Gallo's case was a question of purported stealing. The former can and should be dealt with by the scientific community (as it was), whereas the latter probably has to do with the law.

Whether the virus that Gallo isolated or procured is the one that causes AIDS is a question of science, and that problem will be solved by...

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