Matt McIrvin (mmcirvin) wrote,
Matt McIrvin


Tim Lambert summarizes a pretty amazing series of events:
In 1987 Zhang JianDong published a study linking chromium-6 in drinking water to cancer. In 1997 he published a new study retracting his findings --- further analysis showed that the chromium-6 wasn't to blame. All part of the normal progress of science you would think. Except for a few small things.

1. Zhang did not write the 1997 retraction published under his name.

2. Zhang did not agree with the conclusions of the 1997 study.

3. The 1997 study was actually written by consultants from ChemRisk hired by PG&E. And PG&E was being sued for contaminating drinking water with chromium-6.[...]
It goes on; Revere of Effect Measure details how Zhang's name ended up on the paper. The suit happens to be the one made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich, and the fraudulently published retraction continues to have influence through the chain of subsequent citations in the scientific and popular literature. All I can say is "wow".

The story is apparently told in detail in an article in the news pages of the Wall Street Journal, which remain more or less distinct from the clown show on the editorial pages.

Update: "Chromium-6" changed to "chromium(VI)" in the headline for chemical correctness. It's not an isotope; it's an oxidation number.
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