Newsbytes: Big Science Is Broken

Also: Poll: Just 6 Percent Of Americans Say They Trust News Media

johann-wolfgang-von-goethe

From the Lewpaper department:

Science is broken. That’s the thesis of a must-read article in First Things magazine, in which William A. Wilson accumulates evidence that a lot of published research is false. But that’s not even the worst part. Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has “self-correcting mechanisms” that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.

Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has “self-correcting mechanisms” that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.

For starters, there’s a “replication crisis” in science. This is particularly true in the field of experimental psychology, where far too many prestigious psychology studies simply can’t be reliably replicated. But it’s not just psychology. In 2011, the pharmaceutical company Bayer looked at 67 blockbuster drug discovery research findings published in prestigious journals, and found that three-fourths of them weren’t right. Another study of cancer research found that only 11 percent of preclinical cancer research could be reproduced. Even in physics, supposedly the hardest and most reliable of all sciences, Wilson points out that “two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — the announced discovery of both cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published.”

What explains this? In some cases, human error. Much of the research world exploded in rage and mockery when it was found out that a highly popularized finding by the economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt linking higher public debt to lower growth was due to an Excel error. Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, largely built his career on a paper arguing that abortion led to lower crime rates 20 years later because the aborted babies were disproportionately future criminals. Two economists went through the painstaking work of recoding Levitt’s statistical analysis — and found a basic arithmetic error.

Then there is outright fraud. In a 2011 survey of 2,000 research psychologists, over half admitted to selectively reporting those experiments that gave the result they were after. The survey also concluded that around 10 percent of research psychologists have engaged in outright falsification of data, and more than half have engaged in “less brazen but still fraudulent behavior such as reporting that a result was statistically significant when it was not, or deciding between two different data analysis techniques after looking at the results of each and choosing the more favorable.”

Then there’s everything in between human error and outright fraud: rounding out numbers the way that looks better, checking a result less thoroughly when it comes out the way you like, and so forth.

Still, shouldn’t the mechanism of independent checking and peer review mean the wheat, eventually, will be sorted from the chaff?

Well, maybe not. There’s actually good reason to believe the exact opposite is happening.

The peer review process doesn’t work. Most observers of science guffaw at the so-called “Sokal affair,” where a physicist named Alan Sokal submitted a gibberish paper to an obscure social studies journal, which accepted it. Less famous is a similar hoodwinking of the very prestigious British Medical Journal, to which a paper with eight major errors was submitted. Not a single one of the 221 scientists who reviewed the paper caught all the errors in it, and only 30 percent of reviewers recommended that the paper be rejected. Amazingly, the reviewers who were warned that they were in a study and that the paper might have problems with it found no more flaws than the ones who were in the dark.

This is serious. In the preclinical cancer study mentioned above, the authors note that “some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis.”

This gets into the question of the sociology of science. It’s a familiar bromide that “science advances one funeral at a time.” The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. Older scientists are more likely to be invested, both emotionally and from a career and prestige perspective, in the regnant paradigm, even though the spirit of science is the challenge of regnant paradigms.

Why, then, is our scientific process so structured as to reward the old and the prestigious? Government funding bodies and peer review bodies are inevitably staffed by the most hallowed (read: out of touch) practitioners in the field. The tenure process ensures that in order to further their careers, the youngest scientists in a given department must kowtow to their elders’ theories or run a significant professional risk. Peer review isn’t any good at keeping flawed studies out of major papers, but it can be deadly efficient at silencing heretical views.

All of this suggests that the current system isn’t just showing cracks, but is actually broken, and in need of major reform.

–Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week, 18 April 2016

 

At its best, science is a human enterprise with a superhuman aim: the discovery of regularities in the order of nature, and the discerning of the consequences of those regularities. We’ve seen example after example of how the human element of this enterprise harms and damages its progress, through incompetence, fraud, selfishness, prejudice, or the simple combination of an honest oversight or slip with plain bad luck. When cultural trends attempt to render science a sort of religion-less clericalism, scientists are apt to forget that they are made of the same crooked timber as the rest of humanity and will necessarily imperil the work that they do. The greatest friends of the Cult of Science are the worst enemies of science’s actual practice. –William A. Wilson, First Things, May 2016

Trust in the news media is being eroded by perceptions of inaccuracy and bias, fueled in part by Americans’ skepticism about what they read on social media. Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions. The poll shows that accuracy clearly is the most important component of trust. Nearly 90 percent of Americans say it’s extremely or very important that the media get their facts correct, according to the study. Readers also are looking for balance: Are there enough sources so they can get a rounded picture of what they are reading. –Carole Feldman and Emily Swanson, Associated Press, 18 April 2016

h/t to Benny Peiser of The GWPF

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167 thoughts on “Newsbytes: Big Science Is Broken

  1. I think the inclusion of the superluminal particles team is a bit of a cheap shot. The researchers put all their techniques and data out there a practically begged other teams to please find their error. Then when someone did, they thanked them and pulled down the whole thing. That was a case of researchers mistrusting their own results, being skeptical and asking for help.
    For the most part physics seems to work about as well as it always has. (there is still resistance to change, but we are human and that is part of our nature)

    • I think the inclusion of the superluminal particles team is a bit of a cheap shot.

      Absolutely! The team did advertise their results, but explicitly asked for help figuring out if they were making a mistake or actually observing what they thought they were. And when they accepted they had made a mistake, they published their retraction with equal fanfare. It’s not their fault that other people decided to promote the first announcement more dramatically than the second one.

    • The Bicep2 retraction came rather quickly as well. There were already teams extemely skeptical when the result was first published. Questions on solar system related noise quickly came up.
      Hard physics is not broken.
      Climate scince though is beyond repair.
      Or as was said above, “science advances one funeral at a time..” Too many reputations of entrenched, (politically favored) well-funded climastrologists need to first be buried before the fever from the CAGW sickness abates.

      • Not so with BICEP2, they said “just because we over interpreted the data doesn’t mean we were wrong”, they said, after being shown to be wrong.
        For the love of…. I knew they were wrong before they made the claim they were right. You cant detect a signal that is an order or two of magnitude smaller than the noise in between the observer and the signal unless you have a priory knowledge of that signal or you control the signal, those are the standards, if you cant meet either of those criteria, you cant claim to have a signal.

    • I would agree with this comment. As I former member of the Inst of physics I thought it did it’s best but I remember several ,instances of arse protection and their latest declaration on global warming is verging on the inept.

    • I don’t read that part as calling the physicists involved in those two events liars or bad. His entire sentence reads that they were retracted with “less fanfare” than they were announced. Meaning most average readers have no idea they were retracted.
      His point is that science is broken. Discoveries like those two, should have been validated and verified BEFORE they were announced to the world as “accomplished”. He even speaks of physics as the science one would think has NOT been infected, but it too has become “media” fodder and abused for headlines and drama.

    • I think the context is the most important issue here:
      “two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — … and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published.”
      The criticism is of the relative degrees of “vaunting” by the news media. Much cheering, wailing and gnashing of teeth in the race to headline that “Einstein was all wrong!” Hardly a whimper on the back pages that the whole scare was a false alarm. I fear that the eventual revelation/demise that AGW was all a scam will also fade into an inconspicuous fine print fizzle. Nobody will learn from history … again.

  2. “In 2011, the pharmaceutical company Bayer looked at 67 blockbuster drug discovery research findings published in prestigious journals, and found that three-fourths of them weren’t right.”
    No possible conflict of interest there, right? I would be interested to see their reasonings. Sounds to me like the other side of the same coin; nobody else’s work is “right”…except ours.

    • Not having read whatever report Bayer generated, I reserve comment on your claim. Consider, however, that the “not invented here” syndrome can easily make you a competitive also-ran. Is it unreasonable to believe that Bayer looks outside itself to consider promising lines of investigation? In that light, knowing that 75% of the disclosures out there are, well, crap, potential JV’s aimed at developing any of these wonder-drugs suddenly look a lot riskier.

      • It would seem to me that the first step in deciding to acquire rights to a chemical or process would be to try to fully replicate the experiment to see if it was worth the monetary risk. The company would likely have to invest billions in the development and clinical testing to get the item to market. Checking if the basic concept makes sense seems like a good investment.

      • @Owen
        Replication sounds all well and good, but remember we’re not dealing with patent applications where the disclosure is supposed to provide enough information for replication by anyone “skilled in the art”. So now you have to negotiate non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) to get enough info to figure out how to replicate the compound, do your own study and THEN find out it’s junk. And you’ve probably paid the original investigators some kind of fee because while you’re doing your thing they can’t shop it around to other potential partners. Double-plus ungood.

    • That reminds me more than a little bit of the following article that discusses this subject as well…
      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/12/13/the-truth-wears-off
      Which begins…
      “On September 18, 2007, a few dozen neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and drug-company executives gathered in a hotel conference room in Brussels to hear some startling news. It had to do with a class of drugs known as atypical or second-generation antipsychotics, which came on the market in the early nineties. The drugs, sold under brand names such as Abilify, Seroquel, and Zyprexa, had been tested on schizophrenics in several large clinical trials, all of which had demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the subjects’ psychiatric symptoms. As a result, second-generation antipsychotics had become one of the fastest-growing and most profitable pharmaceutical classes. By 2001, Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa was generating more revenue than Prozac. It remains the company’s top-selling drug.
      But the data presented at the Brussels meeting made it clear that something strange was happening: the therapeutic power of the drugs appeared to be steadily waning. A recent study showed an effect that was less than half of that documented in the first trials, in the early nineteen-nineties. Many researchers began to argue that the expensive pharmaceuticals weren’t any better than first-generation antipsychotics, which have been in use since the fifties. “In fact, sometimes they now look even worse,” John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told me.
      Before the effectiveness of a drug can be confirmed, it must be tested and tested again. Different scientists in different labs need to repeat the protocols and publish their results. The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. Replicability is how the community enforces itself. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. Most of the time, scientists know what results they want, and that can influence the results they get. The premise of replicability is that the scientific community can correct for these flaws.
      But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants: Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades.”

      • I submit this hypothesis – that it a gross characterization to say that the efficacy of this class of drugs has “gone down”‘; rather, I submit that their true efficacy is finally being revealed, now that the sample size has gotten too large for all the overhyping and generous patient selection to cover up reality.
        In this case, the motive was simple to understand – everyone involved officially made a huge profit off of making sure that everyone was told that these drugs were wonderful. Anybody in the system who tried to rock the boat would have found themselves out of a job very quickly, on the basis that “you’re trying to oppose the consensus”.

      • This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology.
        ________________
        It’s called ‘Verlust des Neuigkeitswerts’; some kind’a placebo effect.
        Same with dietary products.
        Cheers – Hans

      • thallstd stated:

        Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades.”

        Well SURPRISE, SURPRISE, …… given the fact that antidepressants are only good for “masking” the emotional effects one suffers from during their “bouts” of depression. Antidepressants do nothing to aid or help in the “curing” of the person’s depression causing problem.

        • Samuel C Cogar
          “Well SURPRISE, SURPRISE, …… given the fact that antidepressants are only good for “masking” the emotional effects one suffers from during their “bouts” of depression. Antidepressants do nothing to aid or help in the “curing” of the person’s depression causing problem.”
          Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the World’s Authority on Antidepressants and Depression-Samuel C. Cogar!!!
          Blanket statements of any kind deserve ridicule. Sorry. MANY people who struggle with depression have a chemical imbalance in their neurotransmitters just like people who have diabetes have an insulin imbalance or the inability to regulate hormones, vitamins levels or sodium. It can be a hereditary condition, or one brought on by physical trauma to the brain, or an actual emotional event. But people like you who speak without thinking are the reason that many people refuse to seek help from ANYONE in the first place.
          Of COURSE antidepressants don’t “cure” anything you idiot, depression isn’t a disease! It’s a chemical reaction that is part of the survival instinct. But medications often DO help those with imbalances they cannot control, or did not cause, to regulate brain chemistry. Not all people who suffer from depression have some kind of life horror story going on that needs to be dealt with in order to restore them to health and peace. And many of those that do, have literally altered their brain chemistry to the point of no return trying to deal with those emotional issues, and need to be stabilized in order to deal with them properly.

      • Aphan said:

        Of COURSE antidepressants don’t “cure” anything you idiot, depression isn’t a disease! It’s a chemical reaction that is part of the survival instinct.

        Survival instinct, HUH?
        After making that statement you really should refrain from calling other people “idiots”.
        So tell us, Oh Wise One, just how in hell does “depression” aid us humans in “survival of the species”? Other than, of course, providing of a “Cash Cow” for the opulent survival of the Psychiatrists and Psychologists.
        Depression has been studied and treated since the 1800’s …… and the “psycho-babblers” of today are still faithfully following the written verbiage of a late-19th Century “cocaine addicted” author, …. Sigmund Freud, … and the only things they have accomplished in respect to the “treatment of depression” during the past 130 years is: 1) new types of prescription drugs every few years to “mask” the effect; ….. and 2) they now have dozens of “names” for depression and they keep changing the “names” and/or keep thinking up “new names” ….. but they have never figured out the cause of depression or how to cure it.
        They are trying to “treat” the conscious mind of a person suffering from “depression” ….. without realizing that the conscious mind is subservient to the subconscious mind.
        Ya can’t teach the conscious mind much of anything ….. because it will go to sleep when ya least expect it. Cheers

        • “the conscious mind is subservient to the subconscious mind” which begs the question…
          What is the subconscious mind subservient to if not he biochemistry of the organism in which it resides?

      • Samuel C Cigar,
        I said “part of” because the BRAIN controls all survival instinct. I’m talking basic biology, not psychology. Learn something.
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotransmission
        Neurotransmitters are KEY to every physical function. The chemicals in the brain regulate our fight or flight responses, our sensitivity to sound, light, threat, safety, taste, touch, etc. When those chemicals are not balanced, whether it be due to genetics, physical trauma, or repeated emotional stressors that exhaust specific neurotransmitters, the body physically responds. If the body cannot produce them fast enough, or steadily enough, to cope with demand, depression of normal mood, energy levels, functions results.
        Being physically wounded causes the brain to release certain chemicals in a survival response. Not just to thicken and clot our blood, or rush pain relieving endorphins to the location, but also to increase adrenaline…sharpen our thinking and saving skills. Then, once the “danger” is gone, it releases calming, normalizing chemicals. Studies have shown that being emotionally wounded can cause some of the exact same chemical responses. If the brain’s ability to control key neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine is reduced, stress induced chemical imbalance dominates and over time, the body/mind simply cannot handle it.
        “They are trying to “treat” the conscious mind of a person suffering from “depression” ….. without realizing that the conscious mind is subservient to the subconscious mind.”
        Oh. My. Word. You just contradicted yourself so blatantly. It was the “cocaine addicted” “psycho babbler” Sigmund Freud that developed the idea that the conscious mind is subservient to the subconscious mind! Lol!
        http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychoanalysis.html

      • Aphan said:

        Oh. My. Word. You just contradicted yourself so blatantly. It was the “cocaine addicted” “psycho babbler” Sigmund Freud that developed the idea that the conscious mind is subservient to the subconscious mind!

        Aphan, your reading comprehension skills are somewhat lacking and sorely need improvements.
        Excerpted from your cited link, to wit:

        Freud believed that people could be cured by making conscious their unconscious thoughts and motivations,

        You should educate yourself on the difference between ….. conscious, unconscious and subconscious.
        Freud was utterly ignorant of the nurturing and/or functioning of the human brain/mind. The conscious mind is only capable of “making choices”, that is, only if and when the subconscious mind presents it with two (2) or more entities to choose from.
        Aphan also said:

        Neurotransmitters are KEY to every physical function. The chemicals in the brain regulate our fight or flight responses, our sensitivity to sound, light, threat, safety, taste, touch, etc.

        And Sam says, …. “So what?” The heart regulates the blood flow, …. does it not?
        Aphan, please address the root cause of the “triggered” release of the aforesaid neurotransmitters.
        “DUH”, if the subconscious mind detects environmentally sensed “info” that triggers a reaction of an Inherited Survival Instinct then said neurotransmitters are released and the person reacts accordingly ……. and the conscious mind won’t know what happened until “after the fact”.
        Aphan, you should familiarize yourself with some basic fundamentals associated with your brain/mind ….. and you can do so by reading this commrntary, to wit:
        A View of How the Human Mind Works
        You need to embrace the “new” neuroscience of the 21st Century and relegate Sigmund Freud et ell and their wacky ideas to the dustbin of historically bad ideas.

        • Samuel C,
          I’m not the one with a comprehension problem. I stated clearly that I was talking about biology, NOT psychiatry or psychology. I am not a Freud fan, nor am I talking about therapy outside of balancing brain chemistry. I specifically spoke only about the brain, and have zero interest in discussing the “mind” with you here.
          Your OPINION that antidepressants are ineffective and only benefit psychiatrists is yours and mine that they do benefit millions of people is mine.

      • I seem to recall reading how those 2nd generation drugs were basically nothing more than Prozac modified in order to garner new patent rights, as the patent on Prozac was about to expire. I remember the tv commercials at the time – how they basically targeted select audiences and relabeled their medical issues in order to say they now had a new drug specifically designed to treat these conditions.

      • I stated clearly that I was talking about biology,
        Aphan, I know what you were “talking about”, …… my Degree “major” was Biological Science.
        The functioning of the brain, brain stem, spinal cord, etc., is all biological … and they all function via an electro-chemical “messaging” architecture.
        I posted that hyper-link to commentary that I authored …… in hopes that you would read it and thus gain a better understanding, as well as improve your BIOLOGICAL knowledge of the human brain.
        Being “bedazzled” with the currently recognized “neurotransmitters” only makes for an interesting conversation of unimportance.
        But it would be a “game-changer” that would make for a truly interesting conversation ….. iffen you were to talk about the “data code” that those “neurotransmitters” are transmitting via the Nervous System network of nerve fibers.

        • Nothing in your article was anything I didn’t already know, but thanks for insinuating and assuming otherwise. I find that nothing makes a person’s arguments more questionable that introducing bias and illogical reasoning along with them. Well…that and attempting to back up your arguments using something else you wrote somewhere else. That whole “I support my own arguments” thing is really hilarious.
          But I disagreed with some of your points, as did several commenters. This isn’t a thread on brain chemistry or depression or neurotransmitters, so I’m outtie on this topic.

    • Possibly, possibly. Or you could just replicate the Bayer study and see if it was reproducible.

    • This included a lot of Bayer’s own research projects and the study was originally conceived in an attempt to understand why so many of their “lead” drugs failed to show efficacy in later studies.
      I know the current meme is that all drug companies are baddies, but let’s not let that get in the way of understanding the issue: You can’t get a government grant to confirm a study already published by someone else. Consequently there is almost never even an attempt to replicate findings and to do so is seen as lower level science, not worthy of top quality researchers.

      • I can sympathize in part with that sentiment, but to me, core research needs to be readdressed occasionally just to make sure we are all still understanding it in the same way. Language and research trends drift over time and understandings can sometimes move a long ways off course to the point where the early papers we cite don’t really mean what we think they mean. The only way to clear that up is to take a fresh look at the raw data down to the sample selection methodology and piece the whole thing back together. We might find some surprising insights in this activity, but we would probably be prevented from publishing them until many funerals later…

    • But at least Ioannidis’ colleagues acknowledge that he has a point. They do not call him names and look into the possibility of jailing him.

  3. Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has “self-correcting mechanisms” that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.
    Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has “self-correcting mechanisms” that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.
    For starters, there’s a “replication crisis” in science.
    …as well as this article 🙂

  4. … That’s the thesis of a must-read article in First Things magazine, in which William A. Wilson accumulates evidence that a lot of published research is false. …
    I’m not sure why William Wilson gets any plaudits. John P. A. Ioannidis said exactly the same thing over 10 years ago in his paper ‘Why Most Published Research Findings Are False’ (2005) – see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/
    He also commented that publishing error is built into the system, and is not an unfortunate by-product – in fact he spent some time making the point that research results contrary to what were ‘required’ were automatically suppressed in Medical Research…

  5. Perhaps the most damaging example of all time: Ancel Keys fabricating results in the cholesterol/saturated fat theory.

    • Which has spawned an industry of food marketers and led to many deaths. But still blindly supported by many ‘nutritionists’.

      • It also destroyed the credibility of nearly everything related to the Government regulation of food and nutrition. So many FDA recommendations/requirements have now been shown to be not based on sound science that people are unwilling to believe ANY pronouncement the Government now makes.

      • If I believed in hell, I would like to think there is a special place there for the suffering and death caused by that one man

      • Tony,
        If we become one with God when we die, and God is the all knowing entity claimed, it is possible that as part of him we too become all knowing. Under that hypothesis, it is entirely possible we create our own hell. Imagine knowing everyone you ever affected by your thoughts and actions, with them knowing everything about you.

  6. They forgot to include willful exaggeration and discounting of data to advance an ideology unrelated to science. Misusing science as a means to an end.

  7. Another problem is funding bias. When your benefactor wants a certain outcome and your livelihood depends on it, bias is built into the research from the start. When the government is the source of funds (supposedly in the service of the taxpayers) then their desired outcome is usually for more power. Climate research is the prime example of this funding bias. Why would they pay for research that says “its all natural”? How can you implement more laws and regulations if their is nobody to blame?
    It is high time that we abolish all government funding for scientific research.

  8. LIke the “consensus paradox” , while increasing numbers of scientists are found fudging the data, well groomed media outlets portray climate scientists as beyond fault that are being harassed by evil skeptics. Despite climategate emails, or blatant deceptive sins of omissions that should have a paper retracted http://landscapesandcycles.net/American_Meterological_Society_half-truth.html
    climate science does not “officially” acknowledge the problems with the expected frequency of retractions and bad science seen in other disciplines. Have climate scientists simply circled the wagons to protect their funding or is it due to the inability to test climate projections 100 years into the future

    • That Science mag has fefused to acknowledge the M&M desembly of Mann’s tree ring paper tells you all you need to know about climate corruption for cash in our academies and science societies.

      • Agree, it is a disgrace that so many are unwilling or afraid to expose the errors associated with the tree ring paper. Even those who reluctantly admit it will not speak out for fear of reprisal.
        Yet we are wasting billions of dollars and putting coal workers out on the streets. Have they no shame?

    • In my book “The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia”, I explain how academia is behaving like a closed shop union that is trying “demark” areas of knowledge as “belonging” to them. As such when we sceptics take an interest in the subject and start writing about “their” subject, we get a hostile reaction very much akin to that of the territorial reaction of great apes.
      Hence, whilst those like Lewandowsky are clueless on the climate science, they and a host of other academics will gang together to “repel invaders” whenever they feel their “territory” is being invaded.
      As such, whilst those like Mann try to rationalise their response by arguing that we are in some way to blame for their aggression, it seems most likely that much of the appalling behaviour we see is the purely instinctive and (for us in a modern society) irrational behaviour of the primitive ape.

      • …rationalise their response by arguing that we are in some way to blame for their aggression…
        “See what you made me do?”

  9. Oh for the likes of Sir Isaac Newton Warden and Master of the Royal Mint and scourge of coiners and clippers (capital crimes in the good old days).

  10. I don’t think all science is broken. University based grant seeking science probably is. Most corporate sponsored research isn’t. Saw this up close and personal concerning energy storage materials for LiIon and supercaps. There are, IMO, several reasons for this university/grant nexus. Grant theme ‘fads’ susceptible to policy/political angles. Publish or perish academia resulting in too much quantity and too little quality. Consequent failure of peer review.
    This nexus is particularly strong in policy relevant areas like climate, energy, healthcare (NIH, NSF). It is weaker in areas that are more ‘pure science’ like physics, chemistry, paleontology. It is also relatively weak were there is a strong interplay between private/corporate and public/university research since the former is to some degree an honesty check on the latter. For example, pharma companies trying replication because they are looking to invest in new therapies. Or VCs demanding replication before funding a biopharm spinout or a new battery concept. That is what has exposed the poor quality of much university basic medical/biochem/genetic research lamented by Ioannidis and the editor of Lancet.
    The strongest nexus between grant policy fads and University/gov ‘public’ research, with the weakest ‘private’ reality checks and balances, is ‘climate science’. Hence it is the most massively failing ‘science’. The IPCC wont be able to hide that fact by AR6. In WG1, Pause will be over two decades. Models still producing a nonexistant tropical troposphere hotspot. SLR not accelerating. Arctic ice cyclically recovering. Observational ECS ~ 1.5-1.8. In WG2, greening, increased crop yields, no extinctions. In WG3, visible failure of mitigation strategies like renewables on cost and intermittency grounds. No climate refugees.

    • Universities is where these kids LEARN how to “do science”. Then they move on and infect the next stage of it. Not all scientists are broken, and the actual Scientific Method is still breathing, but this has to be stopped now, or it won’t be for long.

      • It’s my contention that the “scientific method” is just a fancy name for what engineers do by instinct (check it works). Engineers don’t need a fancy name, because “testing it works” is just part of the way engineers work. But academics … many particularly in climate detest the whole idea of having to prove their ideas actually work in practice and will do anything to avoid subjecting their work to the ordinary scrutiny engineers just naturally assume needs doing.

      • Scottish Sceptic
        It seems to me that so called “Peer Review” is considered by many to be the equivalent to testing or replication of results. It isn’t!
        “The duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and … attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.”
        al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham

      • Scottish Sceptic….”just a fancy name for what engineers do by instinct (check it works)”
        As an Engineer (slash Project Manager) I will be pinning your whole post on my ‘wall’ for a while as inspiration. When in the “dirt” the best solutions are always the most practical once tested.
        My hat off to you Sir.

      • No True Scottish Skeptic: Science without engineering is just Philosophy. Science without philosophy is just engineering. Between philosophy and engineering, obviously it is Philosophers that sent men to ride around the moon in a dune buggy.
        /Obligatory

      • “But academics … many particularly in climate detest the whole idea of having to prove their ideas actually work in practice”
        If that’s true in climate science it’s true in spades in renewable energy.

    • ristvan,
      You wrote: “I don’t think all science is broken. University based grant seeking science probably is. Most corporate sponsored research isn’t.”
      Although most of what you say in your analysis is spot on, I think the summary above is overstated. Although much is broken with university based research, there is also still a lot of good work being done. And corporate research is completely directed towards the short term needs of the sponsor; that is hardly a good model for science as a whole. And while publicly funded policy-relevant research can certainly be warped by the sponsor, that is far more certain with privately funded policy-relevant research.

  11. It’s all about money. A lot of science is now a big business, universities are a huge business, free-standing (almost invariably government supported) research institutions are a big business. Money corrupts. And the more money that’s involved, the more it corrupts. There’s little doubt that pharmaceutical research, even in universities where it’s funded by pharmaceutical companies) is the worst. Here’s one case where it came to light and they failed to bribe the whistle blower so they dismissed him:
    https://ethicalnag.org/2009/09/08/sheffield/
    And that is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg.
    Need to publish: It is virtually a law that researchers must publish, leading to a lot of hastily prepared, often ambiguous material getting into print. Continued funding more or less requires publication of prior research so it goes on and on.
    Too many scientists, too many journals. They can’t all be good at what they do, even with the best of intentions.
    Yes, it’s broken. What do do about it? Don’t ask me, but perhaps reducing the number of the (reported) 100,000 academic journals (OK only half are scientific) would be a good start.

    • Here are some ideas.
      1. No independent replication, no further grants on the subject matter.
      2. Tenure based on quality, not quantity.
      3. Severe consequences for academic misconduct. Science would not address or retract Marcott 2013 even when presented with indelible written evidence comparing thesis to paper. Nature Geoscience did not require a correction to OLeary 2013 Figure 3 even when presented with indelible written evidence from the SI.
      4. Some percentage of grant budgets (NSF, NIH) mandated to be spent outside the mainstream or on ‘counter research’ seeking to poke holes in theme fads.
      5. Any paper using complex statistics, or claiming p values, must also be peer reviewed by a statistician.

      • I’d suggest that all papers are peer reviewed by someone who is not part of the subject area – ideally someone who is not even part of academia (there’s plenty of retired engineers and scientists who’d love to get involved) more importantly all grant bodies should not only include non-academics, but ideally non-academics should be a majority of those taking the decisions as to who gets funding.
        Finally, I’d introduce something akin to “ISO9000” – a requirement of an audit trail for all work so there was an onus to be able to prove the results were obtained rather than an assumption that “so long as nothing looks wrong – we won’t ask questions”.

      • It seems to me that there are peers and there are peers. The review work should itself be reviewed and the peers given ratings that indicate the quality of work. If 4 papers are reviewed by an individual and he passes them intact and they are subsequently found to be faulty, his rating goes down. The papers would come to be rated according to the quality of the reviewers on a cumulative basis. Peer review without accountability assumes that all reviewers are equal, disinterested in the result and qualified. We all know this is not the case. At a minimum this would greatly reduce duplication and speed discovery. Is Michael Mann or James Hansen reviewing papers, credible or laughable

      • Michael Crighton proposed a solution in “Aliens Caused Global Warming” or one of his other lectures (all available on line last time I looked). His idea (simplifying a bit) is that the originator of the experiment should not be involved in performing the experiment other than to plan it out. It should be planned to insure there are multiple stages or steps and each should be delegated to a different individual or team. No participant knows the overall objective, just what he needs to do to complete his portion. No participant knows how many steps there are or who is performing the other steps. The final results are put together by yet another individual or team and delivered to the originator.
        This may be difficult to accomplish in many cases but it would go a long way in removing subconscious bias from the results.

      • rstivan: Alternately you could just consider every result bollocks until you find the fruit of that research for sale in a product at Walmart. After that, you can amend your notions to consider that the idea has promise.

      • I love Scottish Sceptics suggestion to your suggestion a tribunal of idiots to decide the fate of science research … hey lets make it a vote in parliament.

      • “Severe consequences for academic misconduct. ”
        They already exist. Look at the treatment of Pons and Fleischmann, who were principally correct about their findings. The misconduct revealed by Climategate was infinitely worse than the trivial issue of publishing without peer review. The climate scientists seem to have an exemption, that is the problem.

      • It’s all Greek to me – am I an idiot?
        Of course not! And by the way the Greeks say: ‘It’s all Chinese to me’ when they don’t get it. In Ancient Greek the word ιδιώτης (idiotis) meant a private person who remained silent and therefore could not handle public affairs because of their low intelligence. In general in Ancient Greece, anyone who didn’t present themselves in public or wasn’t eloquent enough to express themselves and take part in the current affairs was automatically considered anidiotis; a weakly presented society member, and therefore uneducated, untalented, and stupid. (Jungian Introversion perhaps wasn’t yet a concept in Ancient Athens!)
        Interestingly enough, in Modern Greek the word has dropped its negative connotationand it now means just private, in the sense of: private property, private topic, matter etc.;introversion is finally accepted in Greek society! What is more interesting, though, is that in English, the meaning of the word idiotstill carries its Ancient Greek meaning; a stupid person.

  12. Since our chosen task is to create an audit trail from the Sun’s irradiance to our surface temperature , it’s useful to learn of this link . I’ll have to find time to check whether these data confirm the peri- to ap-helion variation one must expect . Are the data really accurate to over 4 decimals ?
    I like to think in terms of temperatures so these numbers induced me to implement the conversion of Power to Temperature in 4th.CoSy :

    : P>Tsb ( P -- T ) 5.6704e-8 _f %f .25 _f ^f ;
    f( 1361.6 1360.4 )f 4. _f %f P>Tsb |>| 278.35 278.29

    It ain’t as clean as a traditional APL yet because it’s working down at the x86 stack level , but it’s getting there .
    So that represents a 06c change in equilibrium temperature .

  13. “Less famous is a similar hoodwinking of the very prestigious British Medical Journal, to which a paper with eight major errors was submitted. Not a single one of the 221 scientists who reviewed the paper caught all the errors in it, and only 30 percent of reviewers recommended that the paper be rejected.”
    That no one found all eight errors is not disconcerting,because..
    1. There is almost always more than on reviewer. Together they might catch all errors.
    2. Even if not all major errors are caught, the 2nd review process (if the paper was not rejected outright after the first review process) might well catch any missed errors.
    3. If I was reviewing such a paper and found four or five serious error, I might quit looking for problems at that point and simply recommend the paper be rejected.

  14. “some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis.”

    This behavior with secondary publications is especially pernicious in climate science, Hundreds of papers are based on the presumption that the speculative and sometimes flimsy conclusions and theories of global warming have been overwhelming established and proven. Talk about a house of cards…

    • Alx wrote: “This behavior with secondary publications is especially pernicious in climate science, Hundreds of papers are based on the presumption that the speculative and sometimes flimsy conclusions and theories of global warming have been overwhelming established and proven.”
      Yes, they are working under false assumptions.

  15. Of course science self-corrects. But it usually takes too long, wastes far to many resources, and sometimes requires total collapse to clear the deck. Rather than lamenting the obvious, let’s figure out a better method than what happens now.

    • Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

  16. Is there a chance that the label science is too easily granted, dare I say, liberally? Might the demarcation between science and technology be falsification and verification?

      • Refreshing how penalties for failure can work to produce ‘truth’ benefits. Engineering and business provide many examples. Theranos blood testing criminal investigation is a present example of both at the same time.
        In academia, once tenured there is no penalty for any failed theory (more properly, speculation) or biased/wrong observation. Michael Mann is offered as exhibit A. Camille Parmesan (Jim Steele’s link above) is offered as exhibit B. And there are many, many more less well known in various Blowing Smoke essays.

  17. Being a scientist is entertaining the notion that your teachers may be wrong, even may be wrong most of the time. (Free after Richard feynman).

  18. This might be slightly off-topic, but I think it fits.
    I was just reading Jeff Hester’s “For Your Consideration” section of the January 2016 issue of Astronomy, and in the article he speaks of falsifiability and the existence of multiverses. He says, “The whole science of cosmology rests on the untestable claim that our observable universe lies buried within a vastly larger universe filled with stars and galaxies that we can never see. We know those galaxies are there because well-tested theories rely on them.”
    I’m not a scientist, but saying we “know” something exists only because if it didn’t the theory wouldn’t work seems dangerous to me. Maybe I’m hung up on semantics, but wouldn’t it be more accurate to say, “We assume those galaxies are there because well-tested theories rely on them”?

    • “I’m not a scientist, but saying we “know” something exists only because if it didn’t the theory wouldn’t work seems dangerous to me.”
      Christopher you aren’t alone in that observation, most especially as it applies to developments in astrophysics over the past 20 years. Multi-verse theories are, by definition, unfalsifiable; if it were possible to detect the presence of a physical reality outside current perception, it would immediately become a member of the known universe. This isn’t particularly difficult.
      Like “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, the “Mulitverse” is ontological beetle-tracking and has no place among the sciences. As with “climate science”, cosmologies based on unprovable speculation simply provide a comfortable place to park the asses of perpetual grant seekers. It’s become formulary in some of the “sciences” these days; first propose a completely fictitious hypothetical that can never be demonstrated false, then happily spend your life researching it at public expense. All it requires is a large enough group of co-conspirators and a gullible public.

    • Like “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, the “Mulitverse” is ontological beetle-tracking and has no place among the sciences.
      Xcuse, dark matter / energy are just nicknames of fundamentals that can’t be searched for- they have to be found.

      • stop reading here.

        Stop reading where Johann? At the criticism of “Dark Matter”? “Dark Energy”? Why?
        There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support either hypothesis. None at all.So what’s your beef? Where’s the problem Johann?

  19. Hard physics is vulnerable in two areas. In Big Science projects replications are often too costly. In some theoretical areas, such as parts of astrophysics there are gatekeepers that exclude alternatives that should be considered. Peer review needs to made double blind insofar as that is possible. It would be hard to hide the origins of work done at Fermilab, but saving a budding Einstein from the gatekeepers would certainly be possible.

    • One of my favorite examples of this effect goes along with my comment above about astrophysics. The current “consensus” in that discipline surrounds “dark” stuff as an explanation for Newtonian models to explain observations of galactic rotation. Back in the 60’s a fellow named Milgrom noticed the problem and proposed what he called a Modified Newtonian model (MOND I think it was) but was dismissed as a heretic. Over the course of years the kaffee klatch of astrophysics circled their wagons around “dark” theory and no one wants to play with Milgrom at all, save a few die hards mostly not living off grant money.
      So we have an example of a once reputable science literally discarding observed evidence in favor of preserving a revered mathematical model. Where I come from, when a hypothesis is falsified by observation, you toss the hypothesis, not the observation. Which is more likely, that Newton’s theories of gravitation and motion were incomplete, or that an entirely new class of matter and energy never before observed exists somewhere beyond the experience of science? How many billions must we spend to find the little man who wasn’t there before we go back to the drawing boards and re-write Newton’s “laws”?

  20. Science is fatally compromised. The rot set in in the 90s when many agencies decided that the literature was no longer a repository for human knowledge, it was a metric. A yardstick by which to judge scientists for promotion, tenure, job retention and job selection. Since that time, numeralogical mumbo jumbo such as impact factors, h indices etc has encouraged scientists to game the system for personal gain. The literature, for all scientific disciplines, has been slaughtered on the altar of human mendacity. Vale science.

  21. “two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — the announced discovery of both cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published.”. Please can we have links to these, so that (as good scientists) we can check them out!

  22. The final source of rot in science is not being given enough credit in the decay process-the media. CAGW is a perfect example and the daily march of doom from the weather (obviously caused by man) with x million at risk from a little storm is nauseatingly pervasive. The worst thing that ever happened to science is PR, in all its hyperbolic flatulence. Even the most credible of scientists is subject to the ignorance, exaggeration and spin of the university morons assigned the task of making mountains out of mole hills or plain academic manure. I don’t know how many times Anthony has complained about the lack of a citation in a PR describing another bilious breakthrough in climate science before ripping into the asinine contents. Until we get a handle on how to create honest media (leaving governmental distortion out of the picture), we’ll never return ( if there ever really was) to honorable science as the greatest tool for advancing human knowledge.

    • I recently saw a program on CBC in Canada on non-criminal psychopaths. I believe CEOs were highest representation at about 3.9%, next were lawyers (no surprise, surely), third was media personnel. Explains a lot I think. Come to think of it, those three professions encapsulate about half the AGW opportunists who are building great careers on B.S.

  23. Government is corruption incarnate so of course government funded science is going to end up as a late stage roman empire style bureaucratic mess. I say let the professors feel the coldly utilitarian hand of the market where if your discovery is wrong or is utterly pointless, you go broke.

  24. The other thing the previous commenters have not hit yet is Pournelle’s Law, that persons who are good at the internal politics of an organization tend to dominate the organization, to the detriment of the purported purpose of the organization. I believe that without real external demands to stay on the purported goals, most organizations will become nastily self-referential, with the problem being how to supply that external check.

    • You mean other than the LHC? I’m not holding my breath. You think some other consortium of nations will build a copy of it? Not bloody likely.

  25. “It’s a familiar bromide that “science advances one funeral at a time.” The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. ”
    In the scientific community, the youngsters agree AGW is real and happening now. Most disagreers are old.

    • “In the scientific community, the youngsters agree AGW is real and happening now. Most disagreers are old.”
      Which youngsters? I know a few in physics and another in marine biology among other fields, none of them believe AGW is a problem or catastrophic. Then again, none of them are feeding off of the climate gravy train either, so there is your correlation

        • Wagen,
          The young postdocs aren’t stupid. They know the trigger words they have to parrot, if they want to have a carreer.
          It’s the older folks who either know what a scam CAGW is. And sometimes the older ones, who have been life-long nincompoops find it impossible to change their ways.
          It’s the old fools who still believe in “dangerous AGW” that make me laugh. There’s no credible evidence to support their belief. But they still believe…
          …sound familiar?

      • “In the scientific community, the youngsters agree AGW is real and happening now. Most disagreers are old.”
        Wagen, clearly you know as much about the “scientific” community as you do about youngsters and skeptics.
        🙂

      • Wagen says,
        ======================================================
        “Fine, Give me your list of youngster scientists disagreeing with AGW ,)
        ======================================================
        David says, Fine, give me your list of youngsters agreeing with CAGW. (Do not forget the C)
        Beyond that, more even more cogent, give me your list of non government funded youngsters supporting CAGW.
        And finally, give me your evidence that youngsters know more then their older more experienced fellow scientists.

  26. I would say that private research is somewhat better, but not perfect. In the private sector, your results get tested in the rwal world. If your goods do not deliver, then your customers will certainly find out soon enough.
    Roger

    • “If your goods do not deliver, then your customers will certainly find out soon enough.”
      That depends on the area involved and how easy it is to tell if the original results are still valid.
      See my post above at April 19, 2016 at 5:29 pm

  27. “the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted”
    That’s an example of a finding most scientists found doubtful, even those who published it. And it was checked and retracted, so that’s a proof science is self correcting (just sometimes).
    So this example has no place here. Of course some surprising findings are checked and retracted, but mostly because they go against the mainstream.
    You could has well put anti-GMO findings here! (like that very strange “cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA” finding)
    One huge issue in science soundbytes is the massive role of closet Bayesians, pretend frequentists in vaccine risk analysis and in risk analysis in general. They reinterpret meaningless null not rejected results as positive results, and reject positive results based on a prior of almost zero or even zero probability of risk. Of course, they refuse to change the null because it would destroy their pathetic fraudulent risk d*nial enterprise. It’s overwhelming and repugnant.
    If you don’t like the frequentist framework, you shouldn’t be forced to use it. If you choose to use it, you can’t interpret a null not rejected as ultimate proof of safety. You don’t get to negate your null in your conclusion. It’s sick!
    This inversion of the null also happens in “low dose” radiation studies which are “compatible” with the linear excess cancer risk dogma (and just are “compatible” with a finding of no cancer risk whatsoever with low radiation dose rates).

  28. I don’t think the self correcting mechanisms are broken. They are just not going to self correct fast enough before great damage is created for everyone when it comes to climate because natural climate change happens so slow. Eventually the truth will prevail but not in my generation.

    • “I don’t think the self correcting mechanisms are broken. They are just not going to self correct fast
      enough” is a lot like saying “in the long term we are all dead”.

      • And the economic nostrums advocated by the man who said “in the long term we are all dead” are still being followed despite repeated failures.

      • I thought the same thing simple-touriste- If the “self correcting” mechanisms are supposed to correct things quickly, and they are not doing that….they are “BROKEN.” Right? LOL. My daughter “broke” her arm. We didn’t cut it off because it was “broken”. There’s a difference between broken and irreparable Ryan. 🙂

  29. What about the UAH V6 temp record?
    Ken Stewart’s latest UAH March update still shows a pause in all the regions except the Nth extra tropics.
    Here are the Globe and regions.
    Globe a pause for 18 yrs 10 months, over half the record.
    NH a pause for 18 yrs 4 months.
    SH a pause for 20 years 9mths, over half the record.
    Tropics a pause for 21 yrs 6 mths , well over half the record.
    Trop oceans a pause for 22 yrs 4 mths ‘ as above.
    Nth ex tropics no pause, but trend of just 0.13 C per century, so no Stat significant warming at all.
    Sth ex tropics a pause for 20 yrs 7 mths. Over half record.
    Nth polar a pause for 14 yrs 1 month.
    S polar a pause or slight cooling since Dec 1978.
    USA a pause for 18 yrs 10 months.
    OZ a pause for 21 yrs 1 mth , over half the record.
    Of course there is a longer lag time with Sat temps, so the pause could disappear in the coming months. But if a la nina returns later this year the pause may come back after that date.
    So far not much to show in all the globe’s regions since 1997.
    https://kenskingdom.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-pause-update-march-2016-complete/

  30. Watching this whole debate and most comments are amusing. So whats the fix we let you guys vote on what is right, because you know, you really know (Come back Doug) …. I love it science by layman democracy and voting by the mindless mob.
    Okay lets give you the cold hard fact, what you, me or anybody else thinks doesn’t make one bit of difference to science never has, never will. Sure politicians and media may say things and even pass laws based on some wrong understanding of science but none of that really affects science other than possibly slow its progress. The key driver of science is that knowledge gives advantage both economic and military.
    The church in 1616 declared the Earth was the center of the universe and it placed bans on anyone writing about or teaching it. The truth was just as obvious to them as it is to many of those making comments here. You may care to read why they had to change their stance.
    Perhaps you guys should go down the same line go for full science censorship, that is what many seem to be advocating.
    Why I just laugh is, lets imagine the stupids in the mob mentality ruled and say somewhere like USA voted that the congress decides science by a vote in the house (or maybe you appoint a committee). The problem is your science then isn’t progress driven it is decided by an unrelated thing. It would not take very long at all before the USA would fall behind the rest of the world just based on the process.
    The reality is hard sciences and engineering don’t give a rats what you think. All you can do is control the purse strings and funding. Fine cut funding, the scientists will move to another country and work there is always some country wanting an edge.
    Yeah science is bad, evil, corrupt and broken if that is what you want to believe … but it’s worse it doesn’t care what you think. Have a nice day 🙂

    • LDB, clearly you neither read the article, or the comments by numerous scientists who frequent WUWT, and numerous well informed laymen who have a deep respect for the scientific method.. Your blind loyalty to the label “scientist” and “science” is more akin to blind faith, then science.
      Nobody said “science is bad, evil, corrupt and broken”. This was a post about how much the peer review process is broken, with numerous informative comments. Think more, emote less.

      • The claim of the article and headline is that Science is broken, it discusses peer review but it certainly claims far more than that is broken. Then read the comments and tell me that I got it wrong.
        Perhaps ask the Author to change his title to Peer Review is Broken if that is what you think he means and see what his response is.
        The entire article is a beat up about an article by a Software Engineer who I have to say doesn’t give me any conclusive evidence that he actually has a clue what he is talking about. The truth is his rubbish just resonates with a certain audience that have merged around climate change debate in what becomes meaningless babble that every scientist just laughs at and ignores.
        I guess William A. Wilson credentials are having cleanup up Software Companies and there claims he has moved over to cleanup Science because of his good track record 🙂

      • Actually thinking about it I am sure DC claims he is a software engineer among other things … hmm wonder.

      • He cant speak if he doesn’t emote. It’s all he’s got David A. 🙂
        Insinuations, assumptions, opinions, declarations….and magical thinking (he can obviously read minds and knows exactly what “every scientist” does as well as what every skeptic here thinks and believes). Of course, in science we call what such things logical fallacies and cognitive biases, which surely someone as knowledgeable as LdB is, …should know better than to engage in. 🙂

    • Sorry but I don’t recognise the strawman you think you are demolishing here.
      And if you think science isn’t decided by votes in Congress, you haven’t been paying attention – acid rain, diets, CFCs, CO2 – the science of all of these has been decided by votes. The same happens in the EU.
      Yes, science is bad, evil corrupt and broken because like everything else it is human.Science can however be self-correcting if we harness the “bad” (e.g. ego, desire for fame, desire to deny fame to your rivals) in the same way markets harness greed to produce good outcomes.To do that requires governments to step back and refuse to decide what is “right” and what is not worthy of funding however.

  31. DB, did you miss this post…
    http://ristvan.wordpress.com/
    Here are some ideas.
    1. No independent replication, no further grants on the subject matter.
    2. Tenure based on quality, not quantity.
    3. Severe consequences for academic misconduct. Science would not address or retract Marcott 2013 even when presented with indelible written evidence comparing thesis to paper. Nature Geoscience did not require a correction to OLeary 2013 Figure 3 even when presented with indelible written evidence from the SI.
    4. Some percentage of grant budgets (NSF, NIH) mandated to be spent outside the mainstream or on ‘counter research’ seeking to poke holes in theme fads.
    5. Any paper using complex statistics, or claiming p values, must also be peer reviewed by a statistician.

  32. What is interesting is NOT ONE commentator actually worked out that “First Things” is a sham front for a Religious Organization to mascarade as something scientific because nothing really has changed since the 1600’s.
    For a group of skeptics you all got played hook line and sinker because you didn’t bother to look beyond what seemed to be an appealing story. A simple click on the about screen on the provided links would have told you all what was going on here.

    • Or perhaps many “worked out” the nature of the blog and recognized that it was irrelevant to the post’s message.
      Those of us who have observed science and technology up close and personal for an extended period recognize how great the chasm is between science and what scientists may say–and how little one may in any given situation rely on science’s having been self-correcting.
      And those conclusions follow independently of whether the observer thinks that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

    • Joe,
      I was aware of the publication but did not comment on it because I did not think it was relevant. I don’t think attacking the publication or the writer impugns his thesis. His work stand or falls on the merits of the arguments presented.
      In the “religious” publication the article assumes there is a reality that we can know, however imperfectly, and it is possible to advance our deposit of knowledge through the scientific method. He bemoans what he sees as a regress in our current situation.
      In the link that thallstd posted to a similar article from a “secular” publication, they author implies that truth is changeable. The title is, ‘The Truth Wears Off”. While the details of the article give empirical reasons for the troubles in science, the conclusion flatly states: “Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.”
      So, what I find interesting is the religious publication is defending empiricism and the validity of finding at least some truth of reality through the scientific method and the secular publication is proposing that the truth and reality is whatever we choose to believe.
      MikeToo

    • LdB,
      Every single time you post here, you demonstrate that you either lack logical skill, or you have zero disregard for it. You also seem to be unable to discern facts from the opinions/thoughts in your own head.
      First, “For a group of skeptics you all got played hook line and sinker because you didn’t bother to look beyond what seemed to be an appealing story. A simple click on the about screen on the provided links would have told you all what was going on here.”
      For someone who has the ability to read minds, determine motives, and do simple “screen clicking”, you sure got a lot wrong today skippy. The article “BIG (why do you keep ignoring that word?) Science is Broken” was NOT written by William A. Wilson, it was written by Pascal- Emanuel Gobry, and appeared in “The Week”. Anthony is quoting Gobry’s article, not Wilson’s. Pascal-Gobry MENTIONS “the thesis of a must-read article in First Things magazine” written by William A. Wilson. Wilson’s article is titled “Scientific Regress”.
      Second- The idea that science and religion are somehow incompatible opponents isn’t even believed by the National Academy of Sciences, so why do you hurl yourself on swords that no one here has brandished?
      “Compatibility of Science and Religion”- http://www.nas.edu/evolution/Compatibility.html
      Science is not the only way of knowing and understanding. But science is a way of knowing that differs from other ways in its dependence on empirical evidence and testable explanations. Because biological evolution accounts for events that are also central concerns of religion — including the origins of biological diversity and especially the origins of humans — evolution has been a contentious idea within society since it was first articulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in 1858.
      Acceptance of the evidence for evolution can be compatible with religious faith. Today, many religious denominations accept that biological evolution has produced the diversity of living things over billions of years of Earth’s history. Many have issued statements observing that evolution and the tenets of their faiths are compatible. Scientists and theologians have written eloquently about their awe and wonder at the history of the universe and of life on this planet, explaining that they see no conflict between their faith in God and the evidence for evolution. Religious denominations that do not accept the occurrence of evolution tend to be those that believe in strictly literal interpretations of religious texts.
      Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world. Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an explanation eventually must lead to modification or even abandonment of that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend only on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities. Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to pit science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.
      Third- “What is interesting is NOT ONE commentator actually worked out that “First Things” is a sham front for a religious organization…”
      I think it’s AMAZING that NOT ONE commentator here thought they had to, because EVERY skeptical person here automatically KNOWS that would be a stupid and extremely low information voter/ irrelevant thing to do. You took the easy cheap shot and attacked “the man” instead of doing the hard work of actually responding to or refuting his arguments.
      Fourth -First Things states right on their about page how they feel about religion so even your weasel reference to a “sham” is just one more indication that you have a problem with facts.

    • LdB, what sham front? The web site calls itself a journal of religion and the public life, not a science journal. No sham here. And surely scientific regress is a concern in public life, especially insofar as science depends on public funds. Do you have any criticism that does not commit an ad-hominem fallacy?

      • Ok Aphan you want to do something logical the set up your own science review system. See if most of commentators on here actually knew a dam thing about science they would know they could setup there own Journal or Science paper publishing site.
        It’s been done already Phillip Gibbs who is a bit of a maverick but at least he knows how science works setup his own science paper publishing site.
        http://blogs.nature.com/news/2009/07/whats_arxiv_spelled_backwards.html
        So there you go anybody can publish on his site, no references required.
        See here is the catch every crackpot and nutter under the sun publishes rubbish on it, and real scientists can’t be bothered wading thru the effluent to use it.
        The whole article above is complaint about a system that isn’t actually a system and isn’t set in stone by anyone. It is a process that any new journal, university or even you can change and do your own thing with. That is right you can have your own journal and own university with your own rules so stop complaining.
        Then the real issue comes that no real scientists will really recognize or give a rats about your organization and wont give you standing and recognition. That is the problem vixra has, that the scientists avoid the thing like the plague.
        So in an article complaining about science process perhaps the writer might have actually spent a little bit of effort to actually try and understand how it all works.
        To all the moaning commentators go make your own science structures and if they are so good and wonderful we we all come 🙂

        • LdB
          THAT was your best logical response? You can’t spell, you can’t reason well, you fixated on one very small point of an article citing numerous problems, and you can’t even provide one fact that refutes that one thing. The more you speak, the more you undermine yourself. By all means, continue. 😊
          If you are part of “Big Science”, no wonder it’s broken.

          • It appears to me that LDB is one of those people who believe that you can’t complain about a movie being bad unless you can make a better one.

      • I should also say Anthony and this site are a perfect example of the above. He didn’t like the way the Climate Science sites were moderating so he did something about it. Take a leaf out of his book.

  33. So “Science is Broken”? This implies that at sometime in the past science was whole and functioned well.
    This, of course, is nonsense. There was no “Golden Age of Science” when all experimenters adhered to rigidly precise methodologies and consistently arrived at demonstrably correct conclusions that were easily replicated.
    The real question is whether or not scientists are doing a better job today than they did before. Looking at the rising standard of living and the longer life spans that people can expect today the answer is yes. Things are better now than before. Can they be improved? Again yes. Science isn’t broken, it simply has room for improvement.
    Has anyone replicated the studies that purport to show that so many studies are irreplicable? Will subsequent work show these studies themselves to be irreplicable? This isn’t a joke. It points to the actual problem being one of methodology.
    Methodological problems have plagued science since the time of Thales. Flaws in method leave holes into which both honest and dishonest researchers can fall. More time must be spent on refining methodology and less time bemoaning “broken” science.

    • Bob, the problem is not just methodological. As explained in the article I link to at my April 19, 2016 at 5:16 pm post, it appears to be rooted as much in human nature and the process of science as the methodology of the experiment or study.

      • There are always religious groups that blame “fallen” mankind for every problem. When asked “What is the first thing that must be done in order to seek salvation from sin?” a young man answered “First, you must sin”. People selling salvation always see sinful human nature as the problem. The fact that humans are fallible, however, does not mean that they are inveterately wrong.
        Did you ever notice that these very same groups never, ever attribute something good to human nature? Anything good comes from God, only bad stuff comes from human nature. That’s why people have to be very careful when reading websites like “First Things”. They often present truth but with a theological basis that really isn’t connected to the facts that they present.
        I tend to agree with Lord Acton (oddly, a very religious Catholic) whose maxim about power and corruption applies here. Remove the power of the government to fund science and science will, eventually, correct itself.

  34. Those who dare to discuss the flaws associated with certain theories are often automatically attacked for this by the same people who pretend that everyone who accepts the theory would love to discredit it because of the acclaim that would come from reforming a major paradigm.
    But as everyone knows, those who are merely willing to entertain skeptic’s ideas have been made examples of, so reform never comes.
    This is a cult, people.

  35. With respect to Levitt, his study was published, others published a response about a statistical error, then Levitt fixed and republished. His latest results had a lower magnitude, but they were still statistically significant. — John M Reynolds

  36. psychology is that even a science? I really am disappointed about this statement and I think it to be really wrong to consider a science what is just literature, philosophy and all other branches of humanism (with all due respect).

  37. Janice Moore, when you apostrophed me with ‘Herr Wundersamer’ I was’nt quit-witted enough answering ‘Gnädige Frau Moore’.
    Be assured You’re a relevant Herausforderung.
    Best Regards – no answere awaiting. Hans

  38. Twenty years ago, First Things published a symposium called “The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics.” At the time, they received such a blowback even from many friends that, to my recollection, it was another decade before they did something like that again. But they were spot on, exactly right. Here is the link: http://www.firstthings.com/article/1996/11/001-the-end-of-democracy-the-judicial-usurpation-of-politics.
    Now the rot in Big Science has been put under the same klieg lights as was the Constitution-trashing and corrupt U.S. judicial system, but many, many more people are aware of the corruption of Big Science. Why? The new media.
    I suppose both instances of corruption are somewhat like the weather…Everyone complains about it, and now many more people know about it, but hardly anyone one does anything about it that introduces a fundamental change. The publication of research directly to the internet may be the first steps in a new paradigm. If that’s the case, count on the establishment to try to throttle it in its cradle.
    What would produce change in the judicial oligarchy? I personally believe it will not change without either a spiritual awakening (preferred) or mass bloodshed (God save us!). Is that also true of the corrupt tyranny of Big Science?

  39. All in all, I find that this First Things article has too much of a journalistic, canned goods off the supermarket shelf quality to be a really cogent critique of “science”. It doesn’t sound like it’s written by someone who really knows how empirical science actually works.
    In the first place, one cannot talk about “science” as such except in the most abstract terms. This is because every area of science has its own accumulation of facts and its own methodologies. In particular, any really sound area of science is built upon a bedrock of observations, that sometimes take centuries to accumulate. Take practically any area of biology – let’s say feeding and metabolism. The basic observations are legion – all animals engage in foraging through much or all of their lives. Investigating this, people discovered the digestive process and later the various facets of metabolism until they got down to chemical systems like the Krebs Cycle, etc. Or take the study of electricity: there were about 200 years between Gilbert’s discovery that a half dozen different kinds of material could be “electrified” and the realization that this property of electrification was something fundamental to the material world. Only then – and with the development of standardized conductors – could one work in a more modern mode of quantitative experimentation. But all of the latter was built upon the observational foundation created in those two centuries.
    So what do statistical arguments such as the one about whether an experiment is likely to be right mean in these contexts? I would say, almost nothing. The problem is that research in fields such as the ones just cited (and I could give many similar examples) doesn’t resemble taking balls at random from a urn or searching at random to find a diamond inside a stone. There’s an interlocking network of observation and experimental evidence that determines which studies are done next and how they are evaluated. And I don’t see this reflected in this paper in any way, shape or form.
    Another facet of research that this author doesn’t seem cognisant of is measurement and assessment. Advances in this department are often more important that the specific studies that flow from them. I’m thinking for example of things like electrophoresis or radioimmunoassay, which gave rise to a torrent of important studies and discoveries that would have been impossible without the development of such methods.
    It’s only in weaker areas of science, such as some areas of psychology, where this bedrock of observation is missing (and the ‘measurements’ are often pretty iffy) that one gets the kinds of situation that the author describes. There there are real problems all right – and in addition such fields seem to be more vulnerable to political influence. (In fact, there’s an epidemiological side to the present corruption in the sciences that would be worth exploring.)

    • RW,
      The article was published in “This Week”. It REFERENCES another article published in “First Things”. The facts are facts whether you find the context they are used in to your satisfaction or not. Why not refute/ discuss the actual problems demonstrated by the factual events he spoke of instead of complaining about how learned or informed you think he is? You know, discuss empirical things rather than abstract things like opinion, assumption, and cognitive biases?

  40. First Things is a public commentary magazine.
    http://www.firstthings.com/about/
    Yes, it is primarily religious. It is also primarily Catholic, but I’m not Catholic, and I have yet to be even slightly offended by it. The greatest minds of history have been religious. Sound morals are a benefit to sound science, and thorough religion is why we have both morals and science.
    Here is the article mentioned above.
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/05/scientific-regress

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