Re: Patriarchy: Re: What Matriarchy?

Stephen Barnard (
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 08:08:19 -0800

William Edward Woody wrote:
> In article <4uqla0$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:
> > When you say that science assumes that no one fiddles with the
> > experimental results, I'm not sure if you are referring to supernatural
> > fiddling (a trickster god who messes with the data) or regular old
> > human fiddling. Science does recognize that both error and fraud are
> > part of life, which is one of the reasons for the emphasis on
> > replication. Unless a finding can be replicated, it's treated with
> > caution.
> The history of the Milikan oil-drop experiment is very apropos here.
> It's something they teach every first year student here at Caltech.
> (Mostly because he was a pretty famous 'tech prof for whom the
> library is named.)
> He measured the mass of the electron. The problem was, he threw out
> experimental data which suggested the mass was half of what he thought
> it should be. And he came up with a number about twice the accepted
> mass we believe the electron has today.


The Milikan oil-drop experiment measured the *charge* of the electron,
not the *mass*.

Otherwise, your point is well taken. Data-fudging -- even unconscious
data-fudging -- in not uncommon. However, the career of any scientist
whio is caught intentionally fudging data is over.

Steve Barnard