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Keywords:

  • Herausgebertätigkeit;
  • Homöopathie;
  • Informationsauftrag;
  • Laienpresse;
  • Nature;
  • Objektivität;
  • Reputation;
  • Reviewverfahren;
  • (Selbst)Täuschung;
  • Verdünnungsexperimente;
  • Wissenschaftszeitschriften;
  • Jacques Benveniste;
  • Sir John Royden Maddox;
  • James Randi;
  • Walter Steward;
  • XX Jh.

Abstract

Scientific disputes on the objectivity of research results are an integral part of the collective production of knowledge. One motivation to study cases of scientific controversy is the attempt to discover general patterns in the behaviour of participants and institutions involved in such controversies. Yet, for there to be a controversy, one must assume an important amount of social interaction, so much so that it renders it an essentially social phenomenon, which is accessible to historical study. Cases of obvious scientific fraud, in addition, are neither clear-cut nor rare and the mere accusation of scientists by their peers frequently constitutes considerable examples of scientific debate. Together with this, it is often assumed that publication organs play a dominant role in directing the lines of scientific controversy, but their institutional significance and the task of individual editors remain widely unexplored. The present article studies the prominent Nature affair of the Parisian biomedical scientist Jacques Benveniste, both, from a perspective on scientific fraud and on the beginning and closure of scientific disputes. One of the most remarkable features of Benveniste's antibody dilution experiments was that they stroke at the foundations of modern physical and biomedical sciences. Could recent history of science actually resolve the case of the so-called ‘memory of water’ phenomenon?