The numbers on “bad science”

This infographic from www.clinicalpsychology.net is interesting. It speaks to President Eisenhower’s second warning in his famous farewell speech. More below.

Here’s the references as actual links:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/health/research/noted-dutch-psychologist-stapel-accused-of-research-fraud.html
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005738
http://techyum.com/2011/03/omg-aliens1-or-is-it-just-more-fake-science-news/
http://www.badscience.net/2011/04/i-foresee-that-nobody-will-do-anything-about-this-problem/#more-2024
http://www.citypages.com/2011-03-23/news/women-s-funding-network-sex-trafficking-study-is-junk-science/
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/naturally-selected/201109/what-do-about-scientific-fraud-in-psychology
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=researchers-failing-to-make-data-public
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/aug/22/riot-control-newspapers-distorting-science
http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/92prom.html

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This WUWT post: Ike’s second warning, hint: it is not the “military-industrial complex” is well worth a read for the prescient context it provides to this infographic.

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85 thoughts on “The numbers on “bad science”

  1. No amount of time and money can be compared to medical……

    …immediately followed by an ad from a lawyer saying

    “If you took this medicine and you leg fell off…..call us”

    And we should think a group of glorified weathermen are somehow more advanced than that?

  2. I find it hard to believe that any scientist would admit to “falsifying or fabricating data outright,” even in a purportedly anonymous survey. Or are standards now so low that such behavior is no longer an automatic disqualification for the profession?

    /Mr Lynn

  3. The caption below the first picture in red is a testament to just how little even this study understands the problem… the fact they’ve never heard of this thing called eugenics and need “new studies” to point out a well known fact is just sad.

  4. I love the “take home”:
    Three easy ways to make the science more honest:
    1) make all raw data available to other scientists.
    2) hold journalists accountable (for just publishing the press release w/o critical thought)
    3) introduce anonymous publication – not completely sure about that one, but “encourage anonymous review and anonymous criticism of perceived misconduct” would be better.

    Kurt in Switzerland

  5. Sadly most of this comes down to the desire for a specific result. People want to be right about something, some preconcieved notion–investigator bias. Consequently, they can be duped by their desire to be correct to do all the things listed in that infographics.

    It all begins and ends with investigator bias.

  6. Methinks that another survey is needed, one of climate “scientists” affiliated with the team and taken while they are under the influence of sodium pentathol.

  7. Its quite plain that the word “scientist” will be treated as a dirty word before too long.
    A field of endeavour to be avoided for fear of being tarnished by the implications of being in that field.
    Whats also plain is that standards have dropped markedly as have the calibre of people being granted the title of “scientist”.
    Pity, because its mankind that will utlimately suffer the consequences of the delusions of these so called “scientists” who skew data, falsify their findings and play hockey games within the field they supposedly are excelling in.
    Its a shame for them and an even bigger shame for all the branches of science and research that they disrespect them so deeply by acting in such a dishonest manner.
    It really is all about the money for these particular types.
    Theyre no better than criminals to my mind.

  8. Richard Feynman’s cargo cult science is also a good and relevant read in this regard. I know some folks here are already aware of Feynman and all of his contributions to science, but for those who aren’t:

    http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

    This kind of report of fraud and is unfortunately par for the course the way science is taught in so many places today. I was fortunate to have engineers for parents and some excellent teachers and a good brain to go along with it. When I ask people in a discussion about science, how they define science and how it should be practiced they usually aren’t sure how to address it- but the experts are of course on top of it and whatever they say is probably right. Sad.

  9. These people are racist , every caricature is of a minority type person. I am calling the Whitehouse.

    REPLY:I don’t see it that way. It seems more to do with the graphical color scheme than anything. – Anthony

  10. No one is to blame: We are living in “interesting times”, and according to the most vilified and rejected by the most honorable “new age” scientists, Astrology, this happens once in a while, following the rhythms of the Sun, planets and stars: It is just a new “turn of the screw”, following the unending spiral of evolution, which, by the way and contrary to the most holy law of Saint Newton, gravity, it goes up as all life on earth does (including the famous apple tree of the above mentioned famous Saint). Thus, history will repeat itself but at a higher pitch, on a higher octave, but now the other way around, because the Sun, as Jose, Shirley and others observed, changed direction on its path around its invisible barycenter.
    In the former “interesting times” the world witnessed several world “revolutions”, now we have already experienced the fall of a big wall, which divided east and west, but….the best is yet to come, so, though hardly accepted the New science paradigm will flourish while the old one passes away, and not precisely graciously, as “Climate Gate” showed it.
    Remember that lyrics:
    When the Moon is in the seventh house
    and Jupiter is aligned with Mars…..
    ?
    Just wait and see…

  11. And this is in the normal scientific discipline (or semi-scientific discipline) of psychology. The present day field of climate science was built almost entirely from the funding apparatus that Al Gore put in place when he served as Bill Clinton’s “climate czar,” allocating the first $10b of climate funding. NO ONE who was not on board with Gore’s anti-CO2 alarmism ever got a penny of that funding. Climate science is BY DESIGN built to arrive at a particular conclusion, no matter how at odds with reason and evidence, so the situation is far far worse than the bad-enough practices in other disciplines.

  12. @renowebb – I hope that was with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I really get tired of the race card, even in jest. (Ok, so I don’t have a sense of humor on this, but once racism is claimed all discussion usually stops!)

  13. How is Climategate like the Enron scandal? It is not so surprising what is illegal or unethical, but what was legal or acceptable practice.
    It has been stated ad nauseam that there was nothing unacceptable in what the Climategate principals did because they were cleared by several investigative panels, even the inspector general of the National Science Foundation.
    The problem is the definition of what constitutes scientific misconduct. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45, Chapter 4, National Science Foundation, in section 689 has a definition of Scientific Misconduct.
    Scientific misconduct on government funded research is limited to 1) Fabrication, 2) Falsification and 3) Plagiarism. But any investigation (i.e. whitewash) is performed by the recipient institution, which can be reviewed by the Inspector General.
    “689.2 (c) A finding of research misconduct requires that…
    “There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the relevant research community….” I.E. If everybody does it, then it is ok. Boggles the mind. There are many more requirements addressing discrimination and financial controls than there are addressing research standards.
    It is time to establish ISO style standards for publicly funded scientific research. Mike Mann compared the climate models to those used to design aircraft. If he wants tom make that comparison, then we should look at establish standards for scientific research comparable to what is used in industry.
    The standards do not need to be as complex as the ISO9000 standards, but should include but not be limited to the following:

    1. Requirements to archive and provide public access of data, methods and code so that the research can be replicated and evaluated. Any data collected but excluded from the final analysis should also be available along with reasoning why they were excluded.
    2. Requirements for random audit of research.
    3. Standards for statistical analysis. How about a blind analysis, where a statistician analyses the data, not knowing what he is analyzing or what the underlying theory being advocated is?
    4. Standards for the peer review process which would eliminate advocacy by journals and editors and “pal review”.
    5. And most important, eliminate section 689.2(c) above.
    6. And more??

  14. Love the graphics Anthony, but it is too obvious, too clear too unequivical.

    I have observed, and regretfully finally admitted to myself that most people don’t think, and those that do take *very* small steps to change their mind…unforunately.

    I love your work!

  15. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” – Richard Feynman

  16. @renowebb-

    If you are serious, thanks for missing the forest and the trees and then broadcasting your own freudian slip to share with the rest of us about the racist that you are. Please let the White house also know that we would like our tax dollars back since they are so incredibly efficient at wasting them on fraudulent scams like solyndra, the volt, fisker and God knows what other flavor of the month political handouts they have going on.

    Let us know how that goes.

  17. I don’t believe many scientists cook the books per se, but those that do are clearly driven by some other agenda.
    However, I can well believe that 70% of scientists think others have quenstionable methods – ask two tradesmen what they think of each others work, and you’ll get different responses! Note that, in my opinion, as a scientist and engineer – I always question others work, not in a derogatory fashion (unless it’s rubbish!) – but as in a scientific, need to understand their method and reasoning, type fashion, (if that makes sense?). By the same token, I expect to be questioned for my reasoning and methods – it’s all perfectly acceptable! So, if I were to fill in such a survey, it may well look worse in some respects! but it does NOT mean I actually distrust other scientists/engineers, etc.
    The essence of skepticism is so deeply based within real scientists that you simply cannot get 100% agreement over some things – it does not equate to them being unreliable – indeed, one could argue that, for real scientists (I’m discounting many of the warmist grant seeker types!) it demonstrates how the peer review system and need for ‘proof’ means that it can and should, largely, be trusted as a valid viewpoint/analysis.

  18. Great set of pictures. And the three suggestions are important, though they need the backup of legislation to give them teeth. I notice they don’t mention the fourth suggestion I’d make ie “get a blog going where everyone can comment”. And I think there is a fifth tool which I’m working on.

  19. Mr Lynn says:
    February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I find it hard to believe that any scientist would admit to “falsifying or fabricating data outright,” even in a purportedly anonymous survey.

    On the other hand I have known some who told me right to my face… I even worked with some who told me same…

    Experiences do differ don’t they?

    Course I do other things now…

  20. @renoweb
    I hope that was a joke post?
    I despise racism – but I openly admit to not liking the French much, or the Arabs (I worked for a French company in the Middle East), etc, etc – but I am not racist, or at least certainly not in a traditional sense, because I know that I can meet and get on with some Frenchies and some Arabs, etc!.
    If you look at an image (of anything or anybody) and see ‘racism’ – that is really quite sad, IMHO – what you ‘see’ is surely an indication of what you may feel? just sayin…..

  21. bkindseth says:
    February 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm
    I agree with your sentiment, all public funded research should be accountable too – though, IMO, ISO 9000 is not that difficult because it is based mostly on record keeping and ‘saying what you do and actually doing what you say you do’ – which in the end, is the nuts and bolts of any ‘standard’.

  22. I lived in akademia for over 30 years, and the amount of fraud was impressive. I’m not saying error. I don’t think that more than 10% of current published research can be relevant for 10 years. Most depends on what’s fashionable and akademic politics. It doesn’t matter how right you are. (I will not produce a single more comment on this.)

  23. There is a 2009 study called, “How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data” here-

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005738

    “…while surveys asking about colleagues are hard to interpret conclusively, self-reports systematically underestimate the real frequency of scientific misconduct. Therefore, it can be safely concluded that data fabrication and falsification –let alone other questionable research practices- are more prevalent than most previous estimates have suggested.”

    “…scientists were less likely to reply affirmatively to questions using the words “fabrication” and “falsification” rather than “alteration” or “modification”. Moreover, three surveys found that scientists admitted more frequently to have “modified” or “altered” research to “improve the outcome” than to have reported results they “knew to be untrue”. In other words, many did not think that the data they “improved” were falsified. To some extent, they were arguably right. But the fuzzy boundary between removing noise from results and biasing them towards a desired outcome might be unknowingly crossed by many researchers.”

    The research includes some interesting diagrams such as, ” Admission rates of Questionable Research Practices (QRP) in self- and non-self-reports.”

    http://www.plosone.org/article/slideshow.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738&imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738.g002#

  24. renowebb says:
    February 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    > These people are racist , every caricature is of a minority type person. I am calling the Whitehouse.

    Yes, it’s shameful, all the scientists are balding (even the redhead), only the monster has a full head of hair. Clearly we need more diversity among caricature scientists. People will think the caricature is settled. :-)

    Umm, /sarc seems to be important here.

  25. Heh, another timely post! Clearly this isn’t confined to psychology. Nothing can be more clear that bad science is prevalent throughout than the circular and contradictory blatherings about our corals.

    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/new-information-demonstrates-why-alarmist-scientists-can-not-be-trusted

    We simply cannot trust scientists to give us the whole unabridged truth. They won’t do it even when their own recent blatherings contradict their already accepting ravings.

  26. WillR says: February 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm On the other hand I have known some who told me right to my face… I even worked with some who told me same…

    I’ve seen two picking cherries in their data right in front of me (Not this one… , this one is ok…) and a third bragging of plagiarizing. I’ve seen published papers entirely made up. I’ve seen averages of a population of ONE, and fabricated data. I was asked to hammer statistics (of course I didn’t). Etc.

  27. Anonymous publication is especially important because there you can report unlikely, surprising observations and theories, which are exactly the ones that have the highest value.

    Think just about cold fusion. Devastating change if proven true, but also high risk of being wrong.

    Peer-review is anonymous in principle, but not in reality. Scientific publications are nowadays like newspapers and report things that we already “know”. Confirmation bias is palpable.

  28. Perhaps Climate Science needs an Office of Climate Science Research Integrity, similar to this

    http://ori.hhs.gov/case_summary

    In a case involving a scientist at the University of Michigan Medical School, the Office of Research Integrity “found that the Respondent knowingly and intentionally tampered with research materials related to five (5) immunoprecipitation/Western blot experiments and switched the labels on four (4) cell culture dishes for cells used in the same type of experiments to cause false results to be reported in the research record. ORI also found that the Respondent tampered with laboratory research materials by adding ethanol to his colleague’s cell culture media, with the deliberate intent to effectuate the death of growing cells, which caused false results to be reported in the research record. ORI has concluded that these acts seriously deviated from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, and/or reporting research.”

  29. At first I had a really hard time accepting what they said about medical research, then I remembered all the crap that passes for “medical research.” A really good example are the last studies that “proved” second-hand smoke presents a health risk. There were three very large, well designed studies that explored this question. Problem was they kept getting “the wrong answer”. Eventually the anti-tobacco zealots cobbled together a much smaller study with ridiculous confidence limits. At last! They got the desired answer. It was politically correct but scientifically meaningless. I’m not defending smoking, but I strongly oppose fraudulent science. A lot of the stuff that comes out of the CDC under the guise of “medical research” is actually crap. I’m sure a lot of grad students in academia cheat and fudge data and results of their projects which could be called “medical research”.

    Most of what I consider “medical research” is funded by the private sector and is conducted with strict scientific rigor and intensive review.

  30. Latitude says:
    February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm
    No amount of time and money can be compared to medical……

    …immediately followed by an ad from a lawyer saying

    “If you took this medicine and you leg fell off…..call us”

    And we should think a group of glorified weathermen are somehow more advanced than that?

    “glorified weathermen”? I would suggest that a more accurate characterization of the climate community would be “degenerated weathermen”. After all, in order to maintain themselves in their positions, weathermen must eventually demonstrate at least some level of predictive skill. From what I’ve seen, no such restriction applies in the field of climate mythology.

  31. Dr. Dave says:
    February 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    At first I had a really hard time accepting what they said about medical research, then I remembered all the crap that passes for “medical research.” A really good example are the last studies that “proved” second-hand smoke presents a health risk.
    ======================================================
    I remember it well. It was for the greater good….. I believe that was the rationalization. It was then that caused me not to believe a damned thing spewed from the govt/scientific community. I recall the EPA changing their standards so SHS could be labeled as a carcinogen. Alas, poor Liberty, we barely knew ye.

  32. Matt in Houston

    Spot on post. If that post was serious about racism, how come no-one else saw it? Says more about the observer as in too many real life cases of racism

    DaveE.

  33. This is not off topic I think its obvious that the AGW scam is about over. I don’t think we should hound the people responsible. I think they honestly believed in it (I did certainly did when I saw the Hadcrut Graphs 4 years ago!).. To their credit, they have provide graphs showing flat temps since 1998 (Hadcrut)/. I say leave them alone… They will retire or change their research subject.

  34. Good post, Anthony. Thank you.

    I think that some scientists are willing to make such admissions in a survey, despite the conceivable risk to themselves, because of a feeling of guilt over not having admitted them publicly. Of course, the one does not remit the other, but it is better than nothing, and deserves our praise.

    Thank you, scientists who answered these survey questions truthfully — especially those scientists whose truthful answer was in the affirmative. May your honesty be rewarded.

    RTF

  35. Basic problem , in the name of ‘the cause’ anything is justified so bad practice becomes good practice in the same way poor research becomes good if it supports ‘the cause ‘ Therefore, its simple not possible for bad science to be done when its result are useful to ‘the cause ‘ The final part of this idea is that is of course that any practice or research that does not support ‘the cause’ is automatically bad becasue clearly no good research could ever do this .
    Look up Orwells 1984 and will understand how this works.

  36. I can see how scientists can subconsciously cherry pick data, but I cannot for the life of me understand why 1 in 50 would admit to falsifying data or that 81% of biomedical research trainees would admit that they would modify or fabricate data to get a grant or get published. Those actions should be beyond the pale!

  37. How much research science is actually done by students under supervision for their doctoral thesis ?

    When you see how the “team” behave there is no reason to doubt their students would do anything to keep the “research” true to the holy grail.

  38. You know, I think it used to be standard practice in a thesis defense for one of the interrogators (ok they aren’t really interrogators, it just feels that way) to take a contrarian view in line of questions to force the candidate to defend his position against the pall of authoritative adverse opinion just to test the candidates integrity. Do they not do this anymore? It seems we could weed out a bunch of bad actors by making sure they understand they have to go where the data leads and not lead the data to popular opinion.

  39. renowebb says: “These people are racist , every caricature is of a minority type person. I am calling the Whitehouse.”

    Wal… I laughed along with you, renowebb. Nice!

  40. Matt in Houston says:
    February 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    @renowebb-

    If you are serious,

    Of course he’s not serious! But it’s so hard to spoof PCism by saying something totally stupid and exaggeratedly self-righteous that’s it’s clear or at least inferrable without labels. Which is why WUWT and other sites insist on tags like /sarc or /send-up. Renowebb forgot to use one, that’s all!

    /maybe

  41. Alan D McIntire says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I can see how scientists can subconsciously cherry pick data, but I cannot for the life of me understand why 1 in 50 would admit to falsifying data
    =========================================
    That’s because the other 49 don’t know their source was a crock………….

  42. The stats are much worse than reported above. See ‘Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Research’, available from Amazon. Pharmaceutical research (which constitute most of medical studies) and climate science are nothing more than Money Pits at heart.

  43. Wait – the “bad apple” scientist is the only one who actually managed to construct a monster! Is that nothing?

  44. Too many of us have become complacent and just accept that scientists and engineers know what they are doing, and that published data is reliable. As anyone paying attention to this website has observed, a lot of published data is garbage.
    We have also come to rely on software that we just automatically assume is carefully designed and properly used.
    I found one Russian language software which called up the wrong library files and gave the German words instead of Russian.
    I have found errors in software packages for electrical engineering. I have found:
    *Using the AC resistance for wires in plastic conduit for aluminum conduit (ignores eddy currents in the aluminum, a 20% error on large size wires).
    *Data libraries using generic ground impedance data instead of specifying the actual ground impedance (grounding conductors, trays, conduits and earth return paths.)
    *Claims to make proper calculations for the effects of parallel power lines, but in fact ignoring parallel power lines in fault calculations.)
    *On two-circuit towers, ignoring the static wire for the opposite circuit.
    *Concentric neutrals (smaller wires wound around a power cable) which are either ignored in thermal calculations or treated like layers of copper.
    Most engineers seem to be blissfully unaware that their software is giving them wrong answers.
    I have found engineers treating wind turbine generators like they were regular generators such as diesels or steam turbines when in fact they are double-fed induction motors whose output decay in 8 cycles after they short circuit their field to protect the electronics.
    I checked one engineer’s work after he had spent months modeling a massive industrial power system and discovered he had incorrectly entered ALL of the impedance data.
    It is a sad situation, with lives at risk not to mention the property damage, and it is getting worse every day.

  45. I cannot agree with the anonymous author, suggestion. There needs to be some ultimate responsibility.

    A Pseudonym Author, that the journal will expose in a specified timeframe, say 3,4,5 years might be a useful compromise. 5 year of protection would give cover to responnsible authors that properly call a halt to fraud, but short enought that malicious falsehoods would be actionable and have significant blow-back on a reckless or pseudonymed author.

  46. I’m disappointed that they list “mining data” as a questionable research practice. Are they confusing data mining with so called data dredging? Then again what can you expect from psychologists :) I recalling reading somewhere that half their papers are in error.

  47. Many if not most of clinical, pharmacological, and medical researchers are not scientists in the sense that biologists, chemists, and physicists are scientists. The former three categories are more in the way of technical workers or medical engineers, in that they doing epidemiological studies (dose-response) or methods development rather than testing a general theory or making empirical explorations in a theory-driven context.

    The more engineer-like the medical/pharmacological researcher becomes, the less likely it is that falsehood can be successful, because engineers must produce working devices. For example, a medical worker or pharmacologist developing an analytical test kit will not be able to falsify that work. The kit must perform. Engineering attracts people who are generally dedicated to getting it right.

    Where results are testable and/or important, falsehoods are readily detected. It would not take a questionnaire-type study to reveal an engineering-level falsified device or result.

    The on-going AGW scandal is a fine case in point. Published errors have been found because the work is testable and the results are analytic. Anthony’s entire surface stations project detected undeniably wide-spread and large problems. O’Donnell 2010 corrected Steig 2009. I’m not saying those falsified works were actual falsehoods; merely wrong. But falsehoods are analytically indistinguishable from error except where the falsehood is so naively constructed as to rely on obviously fabricated data. Work by actual scientists, therefore, is precise enough and objective enough to permit a verifying test.

    So, those medical workers who agree that they, or others, falsify work must typically be doing mushy research where falsified results are not testable, have considerable subjective content, or are not important enough to be tested by others.

    It appears likely to me that the authors of the head-post study must not have been appropriately discriminating about the kind of work being done by the clinical, pharmacological, and medical researchers they interviewed. The objectively analytical content of the work their researcher cohort does, should have been included as part of the weighting.

    I’d bet those medical/pharmacological workers doing engineering-quality work not only do not falsify their results, but also have a powerful personal ethic and a strong professional integrity about *not* falsifying their results.

    The rest of their cohor, clinical psychologists and psychologists in general, are not scientists in any sense of the word because there is no falsifiable theory of psychology. It’s very easy to falsify results in these fields, even while trying to be honest, because so much of the work is subjective.

    So, I’d aver that the head-post study itself is a kind of scientific falsehood because it claims to be talking about praxis among scientists, even though its subject cohort consists primarily of non-scientists.

    The study authors are being promiscuous, in other words, with the term “scientist;” using that word to give a false importance to their work. In spectacularizing their work this way, they damage the reputation of actual science — the praxis they have not studied.

  48. My understanding is that in the past, one could do pure research under a government grant and hit a dead end, but that was OK, because results from research is not a given. Today things are different and “it didn’t work” is not an acceptable answer to how the grant turned out. They expect results. If this is correct, then we’ve created a system where scientists are under pressure to make up results when there’s a dead end.

    I have no way to verify if this is true or not, but if true, it says a lot about government funding and fake science.

  49. I am so glad to see this. It amounts to restating what a true, honest and decent scientist already knows: Truth matters, and science is different from pseudoscience.

    The honest responses this study gathered are likely due to the fact this study involves psychology, and many psychologists are aware they are involved in a pseudoscience. They can be honest about messing around with the truth, for it is part of their profession. (While an honest man would blush, confessing about times he was dishonest, a con-artist can brag about it.)

    In a more real world, it is hard enough to make things work even when you strive to be honest, and to face facts, and to be pragmatic. If you don’t believe even honest engineers can find honesty is hard and that they made honest mistakes, in spite of all their efforts to be pragmatic, just Google “Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse.” Even engineers don’t know everything, and can be surprised by elements of truth called “Chaos Theory” and “Strange Attractors.” (That is where the grant money should go, rather than to “climate science.”)

    History show us, (as an earlier reply mentioned,) that this delightful thing we all would like to have, called “Power,” is a thing that corrupts. It doesn’t only happen to a fairy-tale hobbit called Frodo, if he puts on Sauron’s ring. It happens over and over in history, and is happening today.

    If you read some of the oldest English we have, you read Chaucer describe how monks, who were suppose to be holy men, sometimes hid in hedge-rows and leapt out to ravish country girls who happened to be walking down lanes. Chaucer might describe this hypocrisy with humor, but the monks were obviously not enacting the Christianity Christ himself urged. Therefore, as is usually the case with humor, Chaucer made many laugh by pointing out human hypocrisy, but also angered others. (Which is likely why he only showed his humor to friends.) Who might he anger? He of course angered the monks he Mocked, but he also likely angered the ravished maidens, who did not feel being attacked by a sexual predator was a laughing matter.

    If you leap forward a mere millennium, you now find us cracking jokes about climate scientists. The jokes anger them, and some want to sue us. However who is the ravished maiden, in our current situation?

    I think the ravished maiden is Europe, which is facing a third cruel winter with dependable sources of energy shut down, and stupid sources of energy being erected. It is no joke, no laughing matter. People are very cold. They are getting very pissed off. The big-shots, in high places of power, are getting nervous.

    It serves them right. They fell prey to stupidity. You see it over and over in history, and it works like this:

    There is a sound moral system which works. However power corrupts, and at some point people in high places discover they can afford to break the rules which poorer people can’t afford to break. (It matters little if the rules are religious rules, or scientific rules.) Somehow privileged people get it into their heads that rules are not wise, and are only for stupid bumpkins. The poor go on obeying rules, or going to jail for breaking rules, even as breaking rules becomes the very fabric of life, for lar-de-dar snobs.

    It is the sophisticated people who are the true dolts and morons. They think being sophisticated is a good thing, without ever understanding what a scum-bag a “sophist” is.

    Therefore they are not like the honest engineer, trying his best to be true but involved in a Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse because they don’t know everything. Instead sophisticated people don’t lift a finger to be true. They believe only Bumpkins obey rules. They think they are above the rules. They are sophists, Oh so smart and rich and clever. They play the sophist game, bribing the right guy, and getting the right payback, and laughing up their sleeves at all the bumpkins who are honest. However sooner or later there is hell to pay. Suddenly….all Europe is freezing.

    Sophists, I fear, must face the music sooner rather than later. The bumpkins of Europe are awaking to the fact that it is thirty below, and rather than a coal stove they have a windmill and a solar panel. That is a hard fact for any politician to deny, and, across the pond, even the most glib sophist is now looking for the exit.

    Now let us skip back a millennium to Chaucer. What was his humor pointing out? It was pointing out the exact same thing which, (when dense sophists didn’t get what Chaucer tried to point out in a friendly way), Martin Luther inked on paper and pounded to a church door with a very loud hammer: “Truth is Truth, damn it all!”

    To return to the point of this “Reply to a Post,” I delight in the simple demands proposed by this post, for it is not humor like Chaucer’s, but is more like Martin Luther. It demands REFORM, with a loud hammer.

    Reform, a millennium ago, was more or less religious, whereas now it is scientific. However Truth hasn’t changed. Truth never does change. Truth remains true.

    When sophists intellectualize, “The ends justify the means,” what they are in essence saying is, “Truth doesn’t matter now, because someday we intend to get around to facing it.” Unfortunately, they don’t get around to facing it until it is jammed into their face. Sadly, that is what is now happening in Europe, as we speak.

    Here in America the winter has been kindly, but I like to believe we don’t require our butts to be frozen off, before we demand scientists speak the Truth. Why wait? Nail the thesis to the door now, without any more procrastination, this very day!

  50. My colleagues and I have long joked that we can predict with amazing accuracy what any student’s final grade will be after the second week of term. Sometimes a student will surprise us, but most of the time we nail it. However, like scientists, we have to allow the term to progress and collect actual data to support our conclusions, because anything else would be unprofessional and unethical–no matter how much time we would save not having to score papers.

    Right?

  51. I am honored Anthony for your replay , It was tongue deep in to my cheek .I have read you for years , and believe me am grateful for all your hard work..Everyone else take a chill pill.:)

  52. Where is the link to the original infographic?

    We know we can’t trust journos, pollies, businesspeople, and religious teachers.
    But now we can’t trust sciency types either?

    We’re doomed!

  53. Caleb says: (February 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm) “I am so glad to see this. It amounts to restating what a true, honest and decent scientist already knows: …

    Thank you, Caleb, for an enjoyable and instructive comment. I delighted in it.

  54. Nice graphic, but worrying figures, considering the publicly perceived ‘scientific’ nature of psychology. Let’s not forget either that too many of these junk results end up being used in advertising, to make us splash the cash on trash we never wanted, and politics, to make black look white – nor that, in practice, they often work all too well as humans are too, too easy to fool.

    Non-UK readers might also enjoy (Dr.) Ben Goldacre’s site Bad Science, where he regularly lays into … well, bad science, also primarily medical. (It hasn’t escaped my notice that he steers clear of a subject well known to readers of WUWT, though this may be just a result of writing for the Guardian and wanting to continue writing for the Guardian.) Check his Oct 18th post, which links to an excellent (and downloadable, for cheapskates like me) book on ‘Testing Treatments’.

  55. @bkindseth – re ISO standards, I recall when a PCB subcontractor of ours had just managed to achieve ISO 9000 certification without outside help – his first delivery of boards to us were mirror-image to what we wanted. Everything was perfectly documented – just wrong!

    On “truth”:

    Excerpt from “Philosophy of Science” (Okasha, 2002, OUP): “The theory-ladenness of data had two important consequences for Kuhn. Firstly, it meant that the issue between competing paradigms could not be resolved by simply appealing to ‘the data’ or ‘the facts’, for what a scientists counts as data, or facts, will depend on which paradigm she accepts. Perfectly objective choice between two paradigms is therefore impossible: there is no neutral vantage-point from which to assess the claims of each. Secondly, the very idea of objective truth is called into question. For to be objectively true, our theories or beliefs must correspond to the facts, but the idea of such a correspondence makes little sense if the facts themselves are infected by other theories. This is why Kuhn was led to the radical view that truth itself is relative to a paradigm.”

  56. RE: sensorman says:
    February 8, 2012 at 1:12 am
    “….This is why Kuhn was led to the radical view that truth itself is relative to a paradigm.”

    Sorry, but I always smell a fat, when people get all esotaric about the Truth.

    Yes, Scientists don’t know everything.

    Yes, Scientists have much to learn.

    However we do know better than to build windmills and expect them to heat our homes when it is thirty below.

    I fear Europe will wind up in ruins once again, but this time the USA can’t afford to rush over and save them. I sure hope China is feeling kindly.

  57. renowebb says:
    February 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    These people are racist , every caricature is of a minority type person. I am calling the Whitehouse.

    REPLY:I don’t see it that way. It seems more to do with the graphical color scheme than anything. – Anthony=================
    actually it could be said to be more truthful:-)
    as majority of folks on the planet are NOT white:-)

  58. Maybe I missed something, but psychology is not a field/degree of the Sciences so I am not suprised by some of the findings. I have never held much respect for the field of psychology after taking a course and interacting with several professors in the arena because they consider themselves a MD when they have very little if no medical training.

  59. “If wishes were horses beggars would ride”
    To use one example; the second-hand smoke studies that “proved” the danger of second-hand smoke just had to be true because cigarette smoke is smelly and disgusting and we all wanted the studies to be true. One part of the problem lies with our modern attitudes where the public’s “feelings” are more important than the pertinent facts.

  60. In the early days of science, it was all experimental. Bias and fudging were much less because people could repeat your experiment. Other sciences were observational (psychology, natural history) and thus not taken as seriously. When modern social sciences began they developed and used lots of statistics, but the topic was still very squishy and experiments not clearly relevant to the real world (eg students playing games in a lab) so it became easy for a little massaging of the data (oh, always for good reasons of course) to become common place. The advent of modeling has further worsened this practice because in models one must always make assumptions to get anything to compute, and the assumptions are easily hidden from the reader.

  61. Dr. Dave says:
    A really good example are the last studies that “proved” second-hand smoke presents a health risk. There were three very large, well designed studies that explored this question. Problem was they kept getting “the wrong answer”. Eventually the anti-tobacco zealots cobbled together a much smaller study with ridiculous confidence limits. At last! They got the desired answer.

    Can you share any links to more detail on this?

  62. If you want better quality science, it would help if you could read and check the articles. Thus please support open-access publishing so that everyone can read all scientific papers. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) are trying to stop the growth of open-access publishing to protect the monopoly-style profit margins of scientific publishers. More information:

    https://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2012/01/carolyn_maloney_d-ny_and_darre.php

  63. “Frank says:
    February 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm
    Too many of us have become complacent and just accept that scientists and engineers know what they are doing, and that published data is reliable. As anyone paying attention to this website has observed, a lot of published data is garbage.”

    I think the real problem is not so much the scientist’s paper, its the press release. Far more weight is given to the distribution of the press release, than of the actual paper, its conclusions and data. As a result, the science isn’t actually being disseminated and absorbed by the public, but rather the marketing message. McLuhan would’ve have been proud…

  64. At some point we started paying scientists for their opinions instead of solving problems (ie: Manhattan Project, Apollo Program). That’s when it started…

  65. I personally don’t believe that scientists are significantly different from the general population, so if they appear to be behaving differently then it is because either they operate in and respond to a significantly different environment, or we just haven’t examined everyone else’s behavior rigorously.

    What would a credible survey of journalists reveal? We know some of them make up sources; how common is it really? Perhaps much of what I assume is perpetual sloppiness is really deceit and fabrication?

    Then of course there is the field advertising; no more need be said.

    I think we all know what a credible study of politicians would reveal.

    The real problem with the CAGW panic is not the quality or even the honesty of the science; it’s that certain results provide various political factions what a justification to do what they want to do anyway. Lacking support from scientific research, they would still push the same policies for whatever other reasons appear effective.

    It’s like the old joke about trial lawyers:
    If the facts are on your side, argue the facts.
    If the law is on your side, argue the law.
    If neither facts nor law are on your side, abuse the witness!

    This is of course no reason to give up on trying to get the science right.

  66. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It is so relevant today. I needed Ike’s words for a discussion I am having with a blogger and I hope you do not mind if I borrow from his speech. I will link to your blog.

  67. jlue;
    No one here can give you permission to quote Ike. You’ll have to get in touch direct, probably thru a good spiritualist medium. I don’t know if he’s taking calls, though.

  68. @renowebb

    A day or 2 late I know, but I wanted to make a slight apology- for being a bit harsh.

    However, that was easily avoidable as has been mentioned- /sarc or lol goes a long way. But this subject is and should be particularly sensitive to ALL readers simply because of the magnitude of the problem and the implications therein with the failure of so-called practitioners of science and it’s education.

    So yes in retrospect your comment would have been funny given the right connotation- sorry you left that out and sorry I took it the other way- but c’est la vie.

    The future of mankind is dependent upon the ability of man to apply science properly and while there are amazing advancements being made on a regular basis we must remain vigilant to the principles and correct those that violate them- in the case of the “Team” for example.

  69. Matt, I guess I wasn’t thinking when my hands were in motion, but when I take material from another person’s post I do not want them to feel their ideas have been stolen. I have been out-of-joint for sometime now over what scientists have been doing to further the leftist political agenda. I really liked your post and I congratulate you on it. It isn’t breaking copyright to quote from Ike, I just didn’t want you to think I was stealing your idea when I wrote about “bad science” and used the quote from Eisenhower. I did not know he said that. That was the message that I was trying to convey. Actually, I saw your apology before I saw your sarcasm, so no harm done.

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