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Literature Forensics: Navigating Through Flotsam, Jetsam, and Lagan

Intimidation and bewilderment are but two feelings scientists often confront when facing the ever-expanding published scientific literature. With the birth of any hypothesis, all fantasies of a one-way freeway for a scientific endeavor evaporate when the journey abruptly confronts a forked-road dilemma. One direction, what is known and what was known, leads back in time. A twisted, rutted, convoluted course, it can reveal how, and from where, pioneers from other, unrelated journeys arrived at th

Christian Daughton
Intimidation and bewilderment are but two feelings scientists often confront when facing the ever-expanding published scientific literature. With the birth of any hypothesis, all fantasies of a one-way freeway for a scientific endeavor evaporate when the journey abruptly confronts a forked-road dilemma. One direction, what is known and what was known, leads back in time. A twisted, rutted, convoluted course, it can reveal how, and from where, pioneers from other, unrelated journeys arrived at the same juncture; but it can make for a punishing and, at first thought, boring ride. The other, what is unknown or pretends to be the unknown, quickly recedes into what at least appears to be the unexplored horizon, and its seductive siren can easily win our attention.

Proper navigation of this juncture of old vs. new, past vs. future, dull vs. exciting, known vs. unknown is critical in avoiding a morass of ill fates. These...

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