1955 Science Paper Retracted to Thwart Creationists

A paper published in 1955 by Homer Jacobson, a chemistry professor at Brooklyn College. The paper, entitled Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life, speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in the Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr Jacobson put it, one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive. Nobody paid much attention to the paper at the time, but today it is winning Dr Jacobson acclaim that he does not want — from creationists who cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention. So after 52 years, he has retracted the paper. Dr Jacobson’s retraction is in the noblest tradition of science, Rosalind Reid, editor of American Scientist, wrote in its November-December issue, which has Dr Jacobson’s letter. His letter shows, Ms Reid wrote, the distinction between a scientist who cannot let error stand, no matter the embarrassment of public correction, and people who cling to dogma — via Slashdot

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