Professor Aardvark has a theory. His theory predicts X. So he does some experiments and presents a tentative scientific result, suggesting that X might be true.

Dr Bloggs decides to investigate it. Here's Bloggs's research diary:

  • First preliminary results (finally!): disagreement with Aardvark's results, but it's probably something I've done wrong.
  • New method of analysing the data. Now my results (finally!) agree with Aardvark's. Still a few issues that need addressing though...
  • No progress with the outstanding issues. Getting really bored of this project!
  • Paper written:

Aardvark found X. Our results, although tentative, appear to agree with their findings.

Dr Clot-Head investigates the same question and publishes the following:

Aardvark and Bloggs have shown that X is true. Our results agree with their analysis, although we haven't taken Y and Z into account, so our findings are only tentative.

Dr Dummy joins the bandwagon:

Various authors have found X (Aardvark, Bloggs, Clot-Head). Our findings, although tentative, agree with the general consensus.

Actually, X is not true and Professor Aardvark's theory is wrong. However, due to the complexity of the issue, the lack of any credible alternative theory and constraints on the researchers' time, X soon becomes part of common knowledge. Everyone knows X is true!

Confirmation bias.

My question: does this actually happen in astronomy?