These mistakes are indeed unfortunate. They’re also very, very hard to entirely avoid.
In writing of scientific papers, my professor
and I will typically go through 10-20 revisions
and it’s not unusual for a mistake or two to survive until late in that process. Sometimes
we even spot something a few months later,
after the article is returned by the reviewers.
What happens I think is, you know
what something is SUPPOSED to say, so when
you see the thing that is supposed to be saying
that, you “see” that it is saying that. For example,
in one place I wrote “commercially available 3-pivaloyloxymethyl-5-fluorouracil” (which
actually is the PRODUCT of the reaction, not
the starting material you can buy commercially) where I
meant chloromethyl pivalate! This huge error not only
survived at least 10 revisions, but actually
made it into my research proposal, and was
only spotted well after the fact. But the wrong word
was seen and accepted as “correct” by the brain
countless times before the error was recognized.
When I wrote for Meso, I always wound up
bombarding Millard the next day with e-mail
after e-mail requesting small revisions –
usually matters of style, but still, revisions.
Despite having gone through many revisions
before submitting, and really believing at the
time that the allegedly-final submission was
indeed correctly written throughout.
The 10-20 revisions approach takes two people
working weeks on something. On the magazine,
if the author misses it, and TC or Chris,
whoever’s editing it, misses it… it makes
publication. Fortunately that hasn’t been
too often but I also am bothered by it when
I think there is not likely to be any real
problem with your concern over such a mistake
happening with something really critical, like
amount of insulin. Everyone slows down and
gets very careful in proofreading something
like that. Where you let errors slip by is
in those sections that are “no brainers” and
not particularly key points and
gee you already know that they are right! (but
they’re not.) .