Geoscience Honesty — Avoiding the Misuse of Models

Data sets

David M Abbott writes in Mining Geology HQ that honesty is the principal geoscience ethical principle (Abbott, 2000). “The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time. If we do not penalize the false statements made in error, we open up the way, don’t you see, for false statements by intention. And of course, a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.” (C.P. Snow, TheSearch, 1959). Snow’s statement concisely summarizes the importance of honesty in science. The Search is a novel in which the protagonist, a young physicist, publishes results that are based on an assistant’s work that was not checked. When others attempt to repeat the results, errors in the original work are discovered. The young physicist’s previously promising career is ended because he has violated the honesty rule as quoted above. Verification of geoscience data and recognition that geoscience models, while very useful, have inherent limitations that should be described in papers and reports are, or should be, a fundamental part of any geoscience study or project.