2 Comments on but, But, BUT SCIENCE SAYS….


A pooled weighted average of 1.97% N = 7, 95%CI: 0.86-4.45 of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once -a serious form of misconduct by any standard- and up to 33.7% admitted other questionable research practices. In surveys asking about the behaviour of colleagues, admission rates were 14.12% N = 12, 95% CI: 9.91-19.72 for falsification, and up to 72% for other questionable research practices. Meta-regression showed that self reports surveys, surveys using the words “falsification” or “fabrication”, and mailed surveys yielded lower percentages of misconduct. When these factors were controlled for, misconduct was reported more frequently by medical/pharmacological researchers than others.

Considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct.

Much of the world has a set of illusionary pictures:

(1). The religious nut job: This guy has little ability to think for himself, he follows what he is told by some establishment, he is unwilling to look at contradictory data and he lives only to win the approval of his superiors — who are controlling him. For many, if you believe in God at all, you fit here…

(2). The scientist: This man is deeply driven by a pursuit of truth. He is open minded, unswayed by superiors, profoundly rational (And non-religious) and can never be corrupted by the finances that fund his pure research. He is widely believed to possess a halo as well — but God (who of course, doesn’t exist) had nothing to do with it…

It seems definition #1 VERY often applies to both images…

What is really happening is a fundamentalist extremeification of much of the world. (Yes, that’s probably an invented word…) More and more we are seeing vast numbers of people who hold positions that are untenable and easily confronted. Yet, those people now so commonly refuse to address contrary data and, when forcibly presented with such, refuse to modify their positions. This is the definition of fundamentalism.

Often, those people, when presented with contrary data, will resort to attacking the persons presenting that data rather then even assaulting the data — to say nothing of being willing to actually address the possibility of modifying the positions they hold. Mostly, when they address the data at all, it’s addressed for purposes of vilification — not for understanding.

The myth of a pure scientist is just that — a myth. No scientist can exist without money. Piss off the grant giver = no money. Contradict the widely held scientific consensus = no money. Issue results that upset the ideologues at the university for which you work = no tenure and no money. Say something that just isn’t politically correct and infuriates some special interest group the powers that be support = political pressure from the school donors to give you no money. A successful scientist is one that usually says what he is told — sometimes he slips in truth too — when he can get away with it…

This isn’t some push to cancel science — it has so much to teach us. It’s a push to recognize science as just another religion. A belief system within which people seek truth, perform study, draw conclusions and try to impose such on others.

Like every religion, it demands a rather careful sifting — not bowing down before it…

Simple rule of thumb: If people created it, then STOP worshiping it.

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