Felix E. Schweizer on scientific theories

”[F]inding exceptions and modifications to scientific theories does not invalidate the theories or make them worthless. Rather, this is the very fabric of the scientific process. To instil a sense of scandal into this process degrades science and misleads the public about the scientific process.”

- Felix E. Schweizer, writing in Nature

A controversy has been rekindled surrounding a neurobiological theory called the ‘One-Vesicle Hypothesis’, first posed by the Institute Pasteur’s Henri Korn and colleagues back in the 1980s. The hypothesis, which states that each nerve impulse is discharged as a single packet of neurotransmitters, has important implications for how the brain works, and has always been controversial. But fellow Frenchman bioinformatician Jacques Ninio thinks he has proof that the numbers in Korn’s original paper don’t add up, and has published his findings this week in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Predictably, a flurry of counter-claims has erupted, both from Korn himself as well as UCLA neurobiologist Schweizer, quoted above. Whether the details of the original experiments were accidentally or purposefully wrong remains a mystery, but what is certain is that the peer review process, along with correspondence in learned journals, continues to demonstrate itself as a robust platform for airing collegial concerns about the scientific record.

You can read the original Nature news story here, and Schweizer’s response, with a subscription to Nature.