Louis Ignarro: Oh yes. You have to have trust in yourself, and you have to be — what I found that in this profession — now, I’m not saying other professions are not. What I’m saying is that in this research profession you have to be incredibly honest to yourself and to others because you’re after the truth. I think that a lot of people who conduct research, if the experiments don’t work and don’t work and don’t work and their jobs become at risk, they maybe tend to stretch the data. I don’t mean falsify. No, no, no, no. I mean they may interpret things a little differently just to get a publication. I never did that to myself. I mean, there are many times where we had volumes of data which I would not even write up for a publication because it didn’t make sense. And as the years went by, I could fill in those missing gaps. I would take out that manuscript. I’d put in the missing data, publish it, and there it was. So you have to be very careful, and you have to be brutally honest to yourself. Absolutely.
You have to be very honest, otherwise you’re going to wind up getting in trouble. And luckily, I’ve never had a student or a postdoctoral fellow or a visiting scientist who’s gotten himself or herself into trouble. I said, “If things don’t work, and you’re frustrated, it’s better to lose your job than it is to stretch your data.” Because somewhere down the line, when people cannot reproduce what you did, then you’re in trouble, and that happens a lot. You can’t just make up data, publish a good paper. You might feel good about it the first year, but then, when other people try to reproduce your work and say you’re wrong, you are in a lot of trouble.