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With so many retractions of science journal papers, it’s easy to get carried away …


In “Longevity Paper Retracted: A study that identified several genes linked to extremely long life has been retracted due to technical errors in the sequencing chips used,” Tia Ghose reports for The Scientist (July 21, 2011):

For instance, one requirement that Science says the authors didn’t meet was the replication of the original paper findings in a separate sample of 100-year-olds. But the journal didn’t require the original paper to include a replication sample, Barzilai said, so it’s unclear why it’s needed now. In addition, finding a new sample of centenarians to confirm their original results is unrealistic, given that only about 1 in 6,000 of us makes it to 100, Barzilai said.

True, but most centenarians can be found at seniors residences, which focuses the search. The real problem, one suspects, is that their affairs are typically in the hands of a trustee, which complicates getting permission for non-essential procedures.

Some theses are just plain difficult to test.


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