No one likes getting old either, so, when the idea was published that one could reverse some aspects of aging transgenically, it was great news.
Until. Until it turned out that maybe it wasn't so true after all.
Harvard researchers have retracted a far-reaching claim they made in January that the aging of stem cells might be reversible.A set of papers on this have been retracted, or warning given that the reported findings may not be all that trustworthy. This story was in the news, but there's a site called Retraction Watch, that tries to catalog and report these instances, so other investigators or interested parties will know about the retractions. These are more than the Errata notices at the back of many journal issues (and there are routinely more of these than heretofore because of the haste-to-publish rat-race we're all in).
No matter whether it's complete or not, this is a fine service if people know about it. But while retractions are often reported in the news as splashy scandals, and they may involve miscreant or sloppy scientists or their lab staff, retraction should be encouraged rather than discouraged. And the quicker the better!
Care should be exercised before submitting something for publication, though it is probably regularly undermined by haste. But if mistakes are caught, they need to be made widely know. We build our careers on the backs of others' published work. Cost, time, effort, and even policy or medical advice can be based on what is published.
Haste and other pressures lead to dissembling and mistakes in science, but there is (we think) very little outright fraud. There are cases, however, and the offenders need to be sanctioned by ostracization from the profession. But, again, it's rare and should not pollute attitudes towards science. These mistakes are not as problematic as science going off in poor-payoff directions, which is systematic and can be common and costly.
We're all human and saying we've been wrong is important, and should be encouraged. More is often learned that way, or even by 'negative' results, than by incremental or trivial positive results. We were glad to learn of Retraction Watch. Repeat retractors' operations need to be put under scrutiny. But retraction for honorable reasons should be praised, not turned into scandal.