Scientists That Are Proving Themselves Wrong, Are Doing the Right Thing- Ellie L

In chapter two of Rigor Mortis, the subject is about the actual process and the experiments that the scientists have to go through to really know if there evidence works, and if publishing a paper on that subject would help and not hurt people. The easiest people to fool are ourselves. That’s why when scientists find evidence of something that solves their problem or helps it, the first thing that they should try to do is disprove their hypothesis. If all they do is try to disprove themselves, then they aren’t fooling themselves into believing something that might not be true. Scientific research is mostly self checking. Carol Greider explains this process with her findings about how organisms replenishing their chromosome tips after replication, and how she found a new enzyme in a tetrahymena that was doing that job.  “Rather than say, ‘Look, let’s find every piece of evidence we can to show that this is a new enzyme,’ we said, ‘How can we disprove our own hypothesis?” She and her mentor, Elizabeth Blackburn, who helped in the discovery, ended up looking for flaws in their work for a whole year before publishing a paper about their findings. They waited until they were completely positive about their results. Their conclusion hasn’t been disproved, and they share the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or medicine. Because of their diligence, Greider and Blackburn published something that hasn’t been disproved and actually helps people. By self checking their findings they were able to avoid putting wrong information out in the world. Greider has also devoted time and money to disproving other scientists theories. The most notable was about a telomerase enzyme called TERT that a scientist had published a inconsistent paper about. A group of Stanford scientists had proposed that the TERT enzyme, while causing mice to grow more hair, could switch certain chromosome tips on and off in the cell. By running an experiment that tested that theory, Grieder was able to disprove that TERT didn’t play a role in gene regulation. According to Steven Artandi; “It’s not an issue of reproducibility; it’s an issue of interpretation and understanding the mechanism.” Mice that produce too much TERT aren’t very ideal, but neither are mice that are missing a gene. For Greider, the case is closed unless Artandi can come up with new data that proves what TERT can do. This case shows how scientists need to not be able to disprove their hypothesis, rather than just be able to prove it.

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One thought on “Scientists That Are Proving Themselves Wrong, Are Doing the Right Thing- Ellie L

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  1. The author of this article goes into depth and gives examples of two different situations of two groups of scientist and what they went through during one of their expirements. As the author stated her opinion, by the information she read of Rigor Mortis “This case shows how scientists need to not be able to disprove their hypothesis, rather than just be able to prove it.” Its time for scientist look over their work. But i wonder will scientist continue to find short cuts that are unaffective but eventually help their reaserch? After knowing the short cuts scientist make during reserch, how do we know when the scientist didnt follow one of the short cuts? How can we trust sceintist after this?
    -Elizabeth M.

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