Can we really treat scientific papers as being ALL true?

So after finding out the details of the researcher from Harvard that essentially falsified data in order to present results and make a name for himself I found myself wondering if there was ever going to be a way to truly judge the reliability of scientific papers. I guess in the back of my mind I knew that various researchers had their own agendas when it came to presenting data and making a name for themselves, but is it really worth it in the end? Do you really sleep comfortably at night? I just don’t understand how researchers think they won’t get caught. Eventually karma catches up to everyone and that name you tried so hard to make for yourself is completely defamed.

I came across another article in the New York Times pertaining to Linda B. Buck, a 2004 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine for deciphering the workings of the sense of smell. She retracted a couple of her papers due to the inability to replicate the results. Though these papers didn’t have to do with the research she received the Nobel Prize for, isn’t there still something a little wrong with this. She apologized for doing this but can it be easily brushed under the rug? I feel like replications and tests need to be done before publications to ease the minds of society. Imagine finding out that bedbugs could actually be lethal without finding enough information to back it up. That could create chaos.. but then be retracted. It’s crazy to think that we all take scientific publications to be true and respected, but then who knows if you can actually believe it at this point.

I wonder what true consequences would come of publishing falsified data? A bad name, is that all? Or can it be as severe as jail time like business owners can get for lying to investors?

The article I came across is:

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