The integrity of data

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 05/18/04-05:43:08 AM Z
Message-id: <>

> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Ryuji Suzuki" <>
> > To: <>
> > Sent: Friday, May 14, 2004 8:57 PM
> > Subject: Re: Tanning theory of dichromated colloids (was gelatin
> >
> > > From: Katharine Thayer <>
> > > Subject: Re: Tanning theory of dichromated colloids (was gelatin
> > > Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 07:05:50 +0000
> > >
> > >
> > > Anyway, you have been negating complexing of chromium with gum (and
> > > PVA) for a while. I read over old emails just now and it's very clear
> > > that your argument was towards that direction.

I've read back through our correspondence to see if there is any truth
to that characterization. I see that when I first wrote you, I stated a
counter-hypothesis to the conventional wisdom, which was stated more
strongly than anything I would ordinarily say, certainly more strongly
than the website essay which was already written, which simply gives the
conventional wisdom and considers the data that support or don't support
that, and asks the question, "Is this a useful model?" without drawing
any conclusion. The strong statement I wrote to you was simply
intended to be a counter-hypothesis to the conventional wisdom, to give
you something to aim at. I wanted to know if there was any reason why
the counter-hypothesis, that chromium doesn't coordinate with the
matrix, was impossible. But I didn't make that entirely clear, assuming
that between scientists it would go without saying that I was simply
proposing a hypothesis. Certainly in the absence of data that's all a
person can do.

When you wrote back and said that the conventional wisdom was right,
that it was a well-established fact that the chromium complexes with
gum, or at least with PVA, that you were sending me some articles; the
Mannivannan article especially would convince me of the PVA-chromium
complex, and that the form of chromium that participates in the
crosslinking is clear, I took your word for everything. Even the
invisible chromium I accepted without argument; I wrote back cheerfully,
"The part I was missing was that the chromium could be clear." But the
fact that I conceded the point completely on your sayso (of course I
would still read the original sources, but for the time being I was
quite willing to take your word for it) sort of shoots down the idea
that I was only arguing in one direction only through our

It was only after I discovered that Mannivannan et al doesn't say
anything of the sort, and that there's no such thing as clear chromium,
that I went back to my earlier position, that I'm still waiting for some
conclusive proof that chromium complexes with colloid.

But see, here's the deal. There is almost nothing in the world that
offends me more than the misrepresentation of data or the
misinterpretation of data. If someone tells me a source says x, and I go
to the source and x isn't there, that offends me in a visceral way, and
if someone tells me that chromium is clear when it's not, that offends
me equally, and I'm not likely to ever give that person the benefit of
the doubt again.

I was going to say more about the integrity of data, but I've just got
an e-mail from my sister saying that they've been trying to call me, my
father is back in the hospital, so I've got to go now.

Katharine Thayer
Received on Tue May 18 12:39:27 2004

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