Week 3 STAP stem cell polling reflects quick plunge

How are people feeling about STAP stem cells?

Lately, not great.

With a whopping 790 votes in, the most ever recorded on this blog other than for our annual Stem Cell Person of the Year Award Internet polling, I’ve closed our week 3 STAP stem cell polling.

The question in the polls each week have asked respondents to indicate their relative level of belief in STAP stem cells. I’ve tried to give people a good number of possible choices to reflect subtleties in their perceptions of STAP. Keep in mind this polling is NOT scientific.

I’ve been doing this polling on a tracking basis week-to-week to see if there are any notable changes in opinion.

STAP stem cell polling

Week 3 reflects a big change in the form of a precipitous drop in confidence in STAP stem cells. The curve is almost a complete inverse of week 1.

The possible poll answers are explained as follows: “100% No” means 100% convinced STAP is NOT real, while “100% Yes” means 100% convinced STAP is real; “Close No” and “Close Yes” mean close to convinced that STAP are not real or are real, respectively; and finally the leans and on the fence are self-explanatory. The Y axis is %.

You can see all 3 weeks’ of numbers graphed above. In week 1, people were pretty confident (green). In week 2, sentiment was divided (orange). In week 3, the pendulum swung to be quite negative (red). The flattening out in week 2 may have already reflected an erosion in confidence.

I believe the week 3 big drop in confidence was largely due to the recent Nature News article that was pretty much all bad news. Combine that news piece with alleged irregularities in images in the STAP papers as well as in a related 2011 paper being discussed on PubPeer, and the reports indicating that no one has been able, so far, to get STAP to work–not even the stem cell big wigs in Nature‘s own survey who went 0/10 so far–and people are feeling relatively glum on STAP stem cells at the moment.

It’s still early days though on the replication efforts.

This blog’s STAP stem cell polling could also just as easily quickly bounce back to positive if reports start coming in that people are getting STAP to work. The conclusions of Nature‘s and RIKEN’s investigations into the matter could have strong influence, in principle possibly positive, as well.

In a bit I’ll start up a week four STAP poll.