Defaming the dead: History and statistics

Deconstructing the work of famous scientists, many years after their passing, is a task that has been undertaken by many historians of science and writers of great distinction. A recent editorial in Nature (2011, 474, 419) notes that ‘it is impossible to libel the dead, but equally impossible for them to defend themselves’. There is a certain
excitement in following the trail of research published decades or even a century ago and discussing evidence for misinterpretation. (Editorial)