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 Scientist retracts 1955 life-origin paper
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  17:34:47  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
More than fifty-two years after writing a paper on the possible chemical origins of life, Homer Jacobson, at 82, and retired for 20 years, decided to Google his work, to find out what posterity had made of it. Jacobson didn't like what he found.


Homer Jacobson now.

Creationists had been using it to "disprove" abiogenesis.
Darwinismrefuted.com, for example, says Dr. Jacobson's paper “undermines the scenario that life could have come about by accident.” Another creationist site, Evolution-facts.org, says his findings mean that “within a few minutes, all the various parts of the living organism had to make themselves out of sloshing water,” an impossible feat without a supernatural hand.

“Ouch,” Dr. Jacobson said. “It was hideous.”
Jacobson then went back to the paper itself, “Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life” published in American Scientist, and re-read it. He was appalled at the errors he'd made in 1955. So, still being a good scientist of sound mind, Jacobson has retracted the paper.

In science, a retraction is like a magical do-over. It's a "Mulligan" that makes it like it the paper had never been published, sort of like the scientific version of a marriage annulment. [See Dave W.'s correction, below.] Unfortunately, Creationists don't follow the established rules of science, so they will probably still be quote-mining from Jacobson in the year 2059.

(My thanks to Israel Barrantes, who posted the above link at Abbie Smith's "ERV" site.)


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/30/2007 19:24:02

marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  17:42:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great find, thanks for posting!

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  17:46:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Great find, thanks for posting!
Thanks! This guy's now on my huge and ever-growing list of scientific heroes.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  18:44:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

So, still being a good scientist of sound mind, Jacobson has retracted the paper.

In science, a retraction is like a magical do-over. It's a "Mulligan" that makes it like it the paper had never been published...
No and emphatically no.

Jacobson retracted two passages from the paper, and in science, a retraction is a way to jump up and down while screaming, "look at the error I made!"

Nothing, after all, can "undo" the original publication. Nobody is going to send letters to libraries asking for 50-year-old journals to be sent back to the publisher for revision. The paper is out, and there's no way to recall it.

So, because a mulligan isn't available, the next best thing is to ensure that as many or more people who read the original paper are made aware of the author saying, "I was wrong." It's only in that way that other scientists will have a chance to not reference an error, either through their own knowledge of the retraction or that of their editors.

Dembski, on the other hand, wants everyone to think that a retraction is an erasure - a historical revision - because that would make his "disappearing" his own poor decisions on his blog look reasonable.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  19:14:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by HalfMooner

So, still being a good scientist of sound mind, Jacobson has retracted the paper.

In science, a retraction is like a magical do-over. It's a "Mulligan" that makes it like it the paper had never been published...
No and emphatically no.

Jacobson retracted two passages from the paper, and in science, a retraction is a way to jump up and down while screaming, "look at the error I made!"

Nothing, after all, can "undo" the original publication. Nobody is going to send letters to libraries asking for 50-year-old journals to be sent back to the publisher for revision. The paper is out, and there's no way to recall it.

So, because a mulligan isn't available, the next best thing is to ensure that as many or more people who read the original paper are made aware of the author saying, "I was wrong." It's only in that way that other scientists will have a chance to not reference an error, either through their own knowledge of the retraction or that of their editors.

Dembski, on the other hand, wants everyone to think that a retraction is an erasure - a historical revision - because that would make his "disappearing" his own poor decisions on his blog look reasonable.
Well, since I'm not a scientist, can I get a Mulligan on this? I've done a strike-through of the worst of that.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/30/2007 19:25:06
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  21:46:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Well, since I'm not a scientist, can I get a Mulligan on this?
No, you've done the proper scientific thing and issued a retraction (since you can't undo my quote of your post).

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2007 :  22:11:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by HalfMooner

Well, since I'm not a scientist, can I get a Mulligan on this?
No, you've done the proper scientific thing and issued a retraction (since you can't undo my quote of your post).
See, folks, both scientists and skeptics are capable of self-correction. Though it makes us moody, bitter, resentful and causes us to plot elaborate vengeance.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/30/2007 22:19:55
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/31/2007 :  04:58:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's a whole lot that's been published in scientific journals over the last 150 years that is in hindsight flat wrong. SciAm does a regular piece where they print exerps from their magazine dating 50, 100 and 150 years ago. It's often hilarious to see the assertions and conclusions they were making way back when. One fundamental triumph of science is that no claim is set in stone. Science is always subject to revision (or retraction), something creationists have a very difficult time accepting/understanding. Likely they will spin this retraction for their audience as one more example of atheist scientists censoring their own 'facts' to keep the public ignorant of god.

-Chaloobi

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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 10/31/2007 :  08:16:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chaloobi

There's a whole lot that's been published in scientific journals over the last 150 years that is in hindsight flat wrong. SciAm does a regular piece where they print exerps from their magazine dating 50, 100 and 150 years ago. It's often hilarious to see the assertions and conclusions they were making way back when. One fundamental triumph of science is that no claim is set in stone. Science is always subject to revision (or retraction), something creationists have a very difficult time accepting/understanding. Likely they will spin this retraction for their audience as one more example of atheist scientists censoring their own 'facts' to keep the public ignorant of god.

Yeah, because the fundies like their Absolute Truths(tm) - especially if they have a stranglehold of it.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
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