Examples of wrongly attributed discoveries?

One striking one I discovered recently is about CRISPR:

According to V.Šikšnys, his article was not even considered as serious by the editor board of the academic journal and was not sent to the reviewers, therefore the time needed to be recognized as first was lost.[7] Martin Schlak reported that Šikšnys submitted his article describing DNA cleavage by Cas9 to Cell Reports on April 18, 2012 (56). After its rejection without peer review, he sent it to PNAS one month later, and it took several months for review and publication. In the meantime, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier had published their findings in Science where their findings were reviewed and accepted within two weeks.[8]

We are so fortunate to have biorxiv now…


I guess I can think of a few examples of this in the invention realm. There’s the famous ones like the lightbulb– where it was popularized by Edison but he was not strictly the ‘inventor’. There were actually a long string of people working on similar things before him but no exact ‘starting’ inventor. There’s the Leibniz / Newton controversy also. It seems like creation is really messy, and I might even guess that a lot of attributions are specifically wrong. Though in academia it may be different because there’s a paper trail of references.

Not exactly wrongly, but first example that jumps to mind is Rosalind Franklin getting very little credit (at least tin popular culture) for her work on DNA

@KyleSchiller according to Google Trends, in the last 5 years, Rosalind Franklin was typically searched for slightly more often than James Watson, and several times more often than Francis Crick.

Google trends that the average search activity for in the last 5 years was:

  • 17 for Rosalind Franklin
  • 14 for James Watson
  • 4 for Francis Crick

“Fifteen years after the fact, the first clear recitation of Franklin’s contribution appeared”

Right, this would mean that your statement was true up to 1968 and potentially for some years beyond. It still does not appear to be true for the last 5 years and potentially for some years beyond. It’s possible for things that were underappreciated to become correctly appreciated or overappreciated.