Is a lot of scientific research just… crap?

posted at 2:01 pm on January 19, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

To be fair, I suppose the use of “crap” in the title might be a bit strong, but if you’re interested in seeing society get the most it can out of scientific research it’s an important question. What set me off on this particular jag this weekend was a very long and well assembled piece by Dr. James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. In it, he analyzes some of the findings in a recent Economist article which looked into the number of published scientific papers which apparently weren’t worth the virtual paper they weren’t printed on.

Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.

A few years ago scientists at Amgen, an American drug company, tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer, often co-operating closely with the original researchers to ensure that their experimental technique matched the one used first time round. According to a piece they wrote last year in Nature, a leading scientific journal, they were able to reproduce the original results in just six. Months earlier Florian Prinz and his colleagues at Bayer HealthCare, a German pharmaceutical giant, reported in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, a sister journal, that they had successfully reproduced the published results in just a quarter of 67 seminal studies.

I suppose the question here isn’t so much one of how so many respected scientists can get something wrong, (who doesn’t make mistakes from time to time?) but how the errors make it into mainstream publication and acceptance, lasting for ages. Dr. Joyner has some experience in the area of analytical statistics and offers some sensible answers.

The use of statistics to make academic research, even in “soft” fields like psychology and political science, more “scientific” has become the norm over the last half century. Unfortunately, most of us in those fields—and for that matter, most chemists, physicists, and physicians—don’t truly understand the increasingly complicated statistics we’re employing. That is, we roughly understand what they’re supposed to do but not the math behind them. And that makes us oblivious to errors.

Joyner identifies a few major items where these problems could be alleviated to some degree if the will existed to do it. Three of them break down as follows:

- The pressure to publish something … anything with your name on it is incredibly intense if you want to advance in your field. This problem has been a known issue for a long time, leading to the Publish or Perish dynamic in academia, and it opens the door to all sorts of errors.

- The perceived need to employ statistical mathematics to support research, particularly in the “soft sciences” leads to problems when attempting to force fit rather hazy measurements into the hard discipline of mathematics.

- Too many of the people involved in a variety of areas of research don’t have a full – or in some cases, even a fundamental – grasp of the difficult mathematics required to truly prove a hypothesis. And there is little incentive for those who do understand it to go through the strenuous, time consuming work of reproducing experiments or thoroughly dissecting their math just to further the career work of somebody else.

The second two of these problems are highlighted in a story which Ed pointed out to me this morning. It deals with Nick Brown, a man who embarked on what was basically an amateur exploration of psychology in his retirement years. He wound up not only challenging some accepted, published information in that field, but essentially overturning the opinions of the entire scientific community.

The majority of the cases that Joyner is discussing deal with fields of hard science which are at least terrestrial in nature and lend themselves to solid testing in the laboratory. None of this gets into the massive bodies of work which are regularly published in less measurable fields, particularly astrophysics and it’s related, nearly science fictional relatives. One of the hot topics there is the entire question of so called dark matter and dark energy, just for one example, which has led some scientists to already begin asking if these things are real at all. A lot of this may rise from the question of whether or not we really even understand what gravity is and how it is propagated. (We still have scientists being featured on Science Channel shows who think that gravity may be so weak in comparison to the other three primal forces because it’s leaking through to or from other dimensions we can’t perceive.)

The chief argument in favor of the current way of doing things is basically that it will all come out in the wash. Presumably, a significant experimental error, once published, will be exposed as later work attempts to verify or build upon it. But as Joyner notes, there is very little effort being put into challenging these sorts of things once they are published, become embedded in the “common knowledge” and start generating money for people. All of this should give us pause, and prompt more people to be willing to stand up and speak out when we’re told something that just doesn’t seem to pass the smell test. It may turn out to be valid after all, but it’s always worth asking the question.


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To be fair, I suppose the use of “crap” in the title might be a bit strong accurate

FIFY.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:03 PM

The use of statistics to make academic research, even in “soft” fields like psychology and political science, more “scientific” has become the norm over the last half century. Unfortunately, most of us in those fields—and for that matter, most chemists, physicists, and physicians—don’t truly understand the increasingly complicated statistics we’re employing. That is, we roughly understand what they’re supposed to do but not the math behind them. And that makes us oblivious to errors.

There’s waaaaaayyyy too many people who impose assumptions of normally distributed data and think that the central limit theorem will save them.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM

But as Joyner notes, there is very little effort being put into challenging these sorts of things once they are published, become embedded in the “common knowledge” and start generating money for people. All of this should give us pause, and prompt more people to be willing to stand up and speak out when we’re told something that just doesn’t seem to pass the smell test. It may turn out to be valid after all, but it’s always worth asking the question.

Michael Mann hardest hit.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:07 PM

You missed one source of errors – money and the need to justify your grant or other source of income. If the gov’t thinks too many people are fat and you have a grant to study how meat consumption results in obesity, what do you think the chances are that you WON’T find that conclusion ?

Slim to none.

Same thing that has prevented dissenting opinion and fact from being accepted by “global warming scientists”.

Most scientific studies are dubious at best. More often than not low level statistical information is used to draw correlations that are then reported as causation when most of the time, self-selection is the real cause.

People that eat breakfast are smarter, so… eat breakfast and get smart. When, in truth, smart people know enough not to skip breakfast. Eating breakfast won’t make you smart.

deadrody on January 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I’ll answer your question with another question: does a bear cr@p in the woods?

platypus on January 19, 2014 at 2:10 PM

But climate science is so settled that we have to upend our entire society.

rbj on January 19, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Politically propagandized rocket surgery is hard. Shadow puppets were just the caveman’s early version of a power point presentation.
Uhm, but at present that’s just a theory.

onomo on January 19, 2014 at 2:11 PM

If you really want to give a statistician nightmares, ask him to explain what a confidence interval is — not the formulas that generate them, but the final, actual values, and how to deal with that given that population parameters aren’t actually stochastic.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:12 PM

It’s confirmation bias, plain and simple. It’s been going on at least as long as Semmelweis.

gryphon202 on January 19, 2014 at 2:13 PM

…the crap depends…on who is financing…the shit!

KOOLAID2 on January 19, 2014 at 2:14 PM

It’s not about advancing scientific research or even the pressure to publish. It’s all about reaping the grant money which bankrolls the next round of “research” which is used to generate more grant money…… see the pattern here?

Global warming will go down in history as the biggest fraud committed against society with the exception of the vetting of Obama. Never have so many made so much money off of bogus science.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:17 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Too many of the people involved in a variety of areas of research don’t have a full – or in some cases, even a fundamental – grasp of the difficult mathematics required to truly prove a hypothesis.

Actually, statistics don’t prove hypotheses. When you do hypothesis testing, everything is phrased as “reject” or “fail to reject” the null hypothesis. It’s all about disproving, not proving.

While it’s becoming more common to talk about “accepting” a hypothesis, that’s really a garbage notion. If you have a hypothesis that the average mileage of an American car is 80,000 miles, and your data doesn’t allow you to reject your null hypothesis that it’s 80,000 because there isn’t a statistically significant difference, that doesn’t mean you should accept the hypothesis that it is actually 80,000. After all, 79,999.928 as an average may not be rejected either. But 79,999.928 isn’t the same thing as 80,000.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:21 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

It’s all about the grant money numbnuts

“Dr. James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. In it, he analyzes some of the findings in a recent Economist article which looked into the number of published scientific papers which apparently weren’t worth the virtual paper they weren’t printed on.”

VegasRick on January 19, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Most of the science news article I read just seem to be a rehash of the press releases issued by the researchers and scientists. There is not a lot of questioning of the conclusions.

Mark1971 on January 19, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Math is hard.

Wethal on January 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

From the New Yorker:

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama said in the article by David Remnick, appearing in the magazine’s Jan. 27 edition.

I’d like the stupid rat-eared wonder to name just one white person whose sole dislike of a lazy shiftless fraud is due to the color of his mixed-race skin. Just one.

Be it funding global warming’s junk science, “investing” in solar and wind power, or Obamacare. All Americans have legitimate cause to dislike the shucking and jiving Obama without race ever entering into it!

Again, name just one white person whose only complaint about Obama is that he’s not more white.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Most scientific findings these days hit the post hoc fallacy really hard.

They obviously begin with a conclusion and attempt to prove it.

lorien1973 on January 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

- The perceived need to employ statistical mathematics to support research, particularly in the “soft sciences” leads to problems when attempting to force fit rather hazy measurements into the hard discipline of mathematics.

Aristotle, the philosopher, logician, biologist, physicist, political philosopher, drama critic, etc. understood this.

In his Nicomachean Ethics he states that you only get the precision that the subject matter allows. And in the area of human behavior, there was much less precision than the sciences, and always would be. Too many contingencies.

Wethal on January 19, 2014 at 2:29 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

The issue is scientific research, not science. Big difference between the two, snowflake. Your mom know that you’re using her computer again?

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM

A lot of what is published (at least popularly) as “science” is nothing of the sort. A huge amount of it fails on one of two counts: it isn’t reproducible or it isn’t falsifiable. A lot of astrophysics falls into this category, as does a lot of science that relies on knowing what happened way in the past (or huge megasystems like the global climate system).

I don’t mind folks speculating and building systems of theories. What I mind is them (or others who don’t understand science) standing up and telling us they know these things to be true.

GWB on January 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM

This problem has been a known issue for a long time, leading to the Publish or Perish dynamic in academia, and it opens the door to all sorts of errors.

This phenomena isn’t limited to the sciences. The performing arts and creative writing are rife with published fiction, poetry, screenplays, teleplays, and plays of the most egregious quality. These authors, playwrights and screenwriters are routinely lauded and applauded by their fellow academicians for publishing material that wouldn’t make it through the most basic workshop, and in most instances the colleagues heaping praise and congratulations on these writers haven’t even read the drivel they’ve praised.

The humanities are filled with publications that are tripe, and the tax payer is footing the bill for an inordinate share of the ‘work’ that is being published, too, through grants and subsidies.

thatsafactjack on January 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Guess you didn’t bother to read the post. Did you just look at the title and start foaming at the mouth?

You missed one source of errors – money and the need to justify your grant or other source of income. If the gov’t thinks too many people are fat and you have a grant to study how meat consumption results in obesity, what do you think the chances are that you WON’T find that conclusion ?

Slim to none.

deadrody on January 19, 2014 at 2:09 PM

This. The bottom line is too many dollars, like everything else, seems to corrupt and ruin otherwise normal fields.

There’s also the bad habit of treating scientists like priests these days, and assuming whatever they say must be unquestionable received wisdom. Given the data provided by Jazz above, it seems likely many of these “scientists” are not having their work properly reviewed and checked, something I’ve had suspicions of for years. Scientists OUGHT to be questioned and reviewed, and unfortunately due to the left’s politicization of science, that’s becoming harder and harder for members of the general public to do.

Ace of Spades also had a great post on the limits of “expertise” that ties into the topics raised by Jazz here: http://ace.mu.nu/archives/346533.php

Doomberg on January 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Lysenkoism (Russian: Лысе́нковщина), or Lysenko-Michurinism was the centralized political control exercised over genetics and agriculture by Trofim Lysenko and his followers. Lysenko was the director of the Soviet Union’s Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Lysenkoism began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

Lysenkoism is used metaphorically to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives

Wikipedia.

Someday one hopes Goreball Worming will be fully exposed as Lysenkoism.

Wethal on January 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premise. (Oh, and your premise is crap, too.)

GWB on January 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Most scientific findings these days hit the post hoc fallacy really hard.

They obviously begin with a conclusion and attempt to prove it.

lorien1973 on January 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

More specifically, most scientific research involves starting with a politically viable conclusion and then seeking out the grant money to prove it. The funding, of course, comes from those whose agenda most benefits from the “findings.”

And I’m not even specifically talking about global warming. How many of the less popular diseases are not being researched at the same time billions pour into the cool class of disease- the ones with wrist bands, fun runs, specific colors, and vocal advocacy groups.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Dr. James Joyner

Didn’t he write a poem about a tree or something?

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Is Barack Obama Gay?

OmahaConservative on January 19, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Not 100% sure he is gay but I am 100% sure that he sucks.

VegasRick on January 19, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Is a lot of scientific research just… crap?

Two words: evolution.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

yeah lets join the reality based community in its astounding take on fracking, gmo, vaccines, gun violence, nuclear energy, etc……

rob verdi on January 19, 2014 at 2:38 PM

The problem here is making the government the arbiter of what constitutes valid scientific research.

Consider this:

The Maryland website for ObamaCare mistakenly listed an 800 number that sent some Maryland residents attempting to pick a health insurance provider to Seattle Pottery Supply, instead of the state’s call center.

Organizations who can’t even get a stinking phone number correctly is supposed to be the gatekeeper of funding for scientific research? Give me a break!

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

life would be all peachy

noforeskin on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

…then…why is the pit…blocking your anus?

KOOLAID2 on January 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Organizations who can’t even get a stinking phone number correctly is supposed to be the gatekeeper of funding for scientific research? Give me a break!

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

They got this one right!

http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/phone.asp

VegasRick on January 19, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Two words: evolution.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

LOL – did you mean to do that?

VegasRick on January 19, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premise. (Oh, and your premise is crap, too.)

GWB on January 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

It’s getting tedious to see people reply to ‘nonpartisan.’ He’s not a honest leftie commenter; he’s a froll. He doesn’t believe for a second the things he drops here. It’s a game to get your dander up and watch all the replies that revolve around him.

The gainsaying and spastic sarcasm is his poor attempt at imitating a Leftie troll. I understand a bit why trolls troll, but I can’t begin to explain the desperate need for attention frolls exhibit.

Again, he doesn’t believe for a second anything that he writes. It’s a joke for him, and if you reply, you are the punchline.

chimney sweep on January 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM

That may be true for science but it’s not true for settled science.

Viator on January 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Years ago, the prominent science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon proposed what has come to be known as Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. Everything–movies, books, ideas, cars, Internet web sites, houses, institutions…everything (the percentage is higher for politicians). Ninety percent of everything is shoddy, poorly planned, poorly thought out, or simply absurd (the percentage is higher for the comments of Internet trolls such as nonpartisan).

So, yeah, I have no doubt that 90% of all scientific research is essentially worthless.

Athanasius on January 19, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Scientists aren’t prideful, depraved, greedy, deceivers, murderous, adulterous, sinful men.

They’re like scientists.

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Someday one hopes Goreball Worming will be fully exposed as Lysenkoism.

Wethal on January 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Al Gore sued by 30,000 scientists for global warming fraud

http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/science/201309/112457.php?storyid=112457

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Too many of the people involved in a variety of areas of research don’t have a full – or in some cases, even a fundamental – grasp of the difficult mathematics required to truly prove a hypothesis.

Can mathematics ever prove a hypothesis Jazz?

DarkCurrent on January 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Most scientific findings these days hit the post hoc fallacy really hard.

They obviously begin with a conclusion and attempt to prove it.

lorien1973 on January 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

You beat me to it. You didn’t mention though the importance of the “peer review” tag (often from the persons in the same cubicle). And I’ll add that it isn’t restricted to the science lab e.g. many business consultants are paid to produce a study confirming what the CEO wants. The old adage “lies, damn lies and statistics” (in declining order of truth) had some basis in how things work.

teejk on January 19, 2014 at 2:55 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

People doing rubbish studies and passing it off as science when it’s incorrect actually do more damage to the science than religion, which works on faith rather than making up false evidence as facts.

Math is hard.

Wethal on January 19, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Yes, it is. Take the Monty Hall problem for starters – basic statistics, but so many people still don’t understand it.

The simple answer to Jazz’s question? Yes. And it’s a crying shame. Ben Goldacre has literally written books about it, which I recommend (for what that’s worth).

Also, using stuff like dark energy that’s a controversial theory anyway is a poor example of potentially flawed scientific research – you should really be concerned about stuff that is generally considered reliable (more so than global warming, even, which has plenty of dissenters) but that there is really no good evidence for. Lots of medical treatments for starters.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I’ve been doing some reading lately on Zero-point Energy (ZPE) and it seems that the characteristics of this energy pretty much obviate the need for the pursuit of Dark Matter as a theoretical explanation for the inconsistencies that astro-physicists encounter.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Much of modern science, particularly that involving statistical analysis and correlation. called ‘studies’, paid for by grants is pure fraud.

pat on January 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Two words: evolution.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

LOL – did you mean to do that?

VegasRick on January 19, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Jusr following the examples set by our intrepid leaders:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBHPvfAt5ow

http://www.examiner.com/article/obama-pulls-a-biden-three-proud-words-made-the-u-s-a

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 3:04 PM

which works on faith rather than making up false evidence as facts.
Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Faith in the God of the Bible seems less and less counter-factual (or ‘extra-factual’) every day.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Funding for scientific research is a lot like Mooch Obama’s fiftieth birthday party.

Normally when the Obamas entertain the events are official occasions where the taxpayer picks up the tab for all the lobster, caviar, and Dom. No so for Mooch turning 50. Suddenly, the only offering is light snacks and drinks. Which means that when the Obamas have to pay, they open a couple bags of Doritos, nuke some pizza rolls they picked up at Costco, and tap a keg on the Truman Balcony.

What scientific research gets funded is by much the same measure. When the taxpayers are paying for it, we get studies into the number of erections a male turtle has during mating season or putting shrimp on a tiny treadmill. When there is some sort of financial accountability then turtle erections suddenly will become less important research than, say, funding how to treat cancer.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 3:05 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Now that you’ve managed to demonstrate that you’re too stupid to understand an article written in plain, simple English…why don’t you just tuck your little head firmly back into your butt and go away.
You really are too stupid to be here.

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Social science research is a classic oxymoron and a tool of progressive propaganda.

Nexialist on January 19, 2014 at 3:08 PM

A lot of social science research is crap.

The rest, for the most part, is not.

farsighted on January 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Dennis Rodman has checked into an undisclosed alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his long-time struggle with alcoholism, his agent says.

No need for research here. The time-honored and established fact that the best way for agents to get their clients out of acting like complete and total jackasses is to blame it on the booze and have them hang out at beach clubs claiming to be rehab centers. A couple weeks of treatment (mostly of the spa variety) and Dennis will once again be out and about.

Happy Nomad on January 19, 2014 at 3:22 PM

As stated (correctly) by several readers, scientists are mostly incapable of performing credible research when they are nursing on the spoiled milk of the government grant teat. And while they might not be perfect products of our Socialista higher education co-operatives, their chosen areas of research seemed to be colored by the experience.

The health Care field is rife with studies which represent the latest and greatest “science”, which seem to be little more than poor veneers over contradictions of yesterdays “science”. These “studies” are implemented by management when they increase profit, and ignored when they shoot down their profitable sacred cows.

trl on January 19, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Current theory, nonpartisan is longtime HA commentor Chuck Shick.

Who’s willing to provide a grant for me to research this?

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

If you really want to give a statistician nightmares, ask him to explain what a confidence interval is — not the formulas that generate them, but the final, actual values, and how to deal with that given that population parameters aren’t actually stochastic.

Stoic Patriot on January 19, 2014 at 2:12 PM

What’s funny is that some say that there is no such thing as randomness (which really throws a hard pitch toward both philosophy and the physical sciences); randomness, they say, is our way of describing (essentially) that we don’t know what is going to happen, but we can make good guesses.

Regarding research: I know a physicist that used to cut his name off of papers before publication because there were known errors in it that he didn’t want to be associated with; on the other hand, the lead would publish the errors knowing he would be able to publish a second paper for the correction later on.

I remember working on a study proving that one new medicine that pregnant mothers took was healthier than another existing medicine on the newborns. The cohorts were extraordinarily difficult to maintain, even the controls, because of the nature and legality of the medicines. Ultimately, the lead went on to work for the manufacturer of the new medicine. He was simultaneously a leading researcher in the field and represented the manufacturer. What happens to science when the world’s leading expert is on your payroll?

I don’t know; just asking.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Faith in the God of the Bible seems less and less counter-factual (or ‘extra-factual’) every day.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Hey, whatever works for you. I was really trying to get at the point that religion tends to be fairly transparent as to what it is, and allows people to make their own judgements accordingly – dressing some bullsh1te up as “science”, whetherby ineptitude or deliberate disinformation, and delivering it down as absolute rules, is only going to give people a poor or confused impression of the scientific process. And that leads to awful situations like the MMR vaccine thing, to pick one example. There are many more.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

A lot of social science research is crap.

The rest, for the most part, is not.

farsighted on January 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

While your first point is correct, the second is not. A lot of “scientific” research is also crap. Especially studies of ecology, climate, and food studies of what’s good or bad for us.

iurockhead on January 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

One thing that’s crap is the climate “scientists” hockey stick.

I put scientists above in quotes because the evidence is that these climatologists and others are not primarily interested in the science (except for as a means to an end). They care about the public relations. By and large both the msm and the scientific establishment is liberal. So they agreed with the 1993 proclamation of the leftist senator Tim Wirth: “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing.”

Accepting Wirth’s idea that the warmist policy proposals (economic de-development) are good regardless of whether the science is correct would lay the foundation for what was to fololow: the quick uncritical acceptance of Michael Mann’s bogus hockey stick in 1998, which overturned decades of accepted (even by the ipcc in 1995) thinking on what the previous climate was like.

Interesting thing about the hockey stick is that the warmists didn’t “need” it to make their case. They just wanted to make a more compelling case, as apparently no one was listening until they had the hockey stick as the centerpiece of their scare mongering. Indeed, the first ipcc chairman, Sir Sir John Houghton said “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.”

And, as lead ippc author Stephen Schneider said back in 1989: “We have to offer up scary scenarios… each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.” The hockey stick in itself was the very picture of a disaster unfolding before our eyes, and sure enough, fabricating the bogus hockey stock was totally consistent with Schneider’s call to offer up scary scenarios, and to not be honest about it.

Now, an effective counter to the warmist bs will be to get more of the public to see how the hockey stick was a false fabrication, and that without the hockey stick, there’s just nothing unusual or in any way alarming about the current climate or how we got here. Note the warmists continue to trumpet the hockey stick, and most of the public still believes it. This article, just out, is an EXCELLENT (the best I’ve seen) summary for the layperson on the hockey stick, spread the word:

http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-rise-and-fall-of-hockey-stick-and.html

anotherJoe on January 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Here is what the corruption of science looks like. Outright fraud.

iurockhead on January 19, 2014 at 3:39 PM

iurockhead on January 19, 2014 at 3:39 PM

And by the way, the raw data has been removed from the GISS website. They are covering their tracks. Orwell would be proud, he predicted the Ministry of Truth to a tee.

iurockhead on January 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I’m not really disagreeing with you, I don’t think. Anything that is presented as true should be backable-uppable, whether it’s of a physical or spiritual nature. Otherwise we’d all just be living in an Oregon Obamacare web-site, playing guitars and having four or five! times more positive experiences than negative.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:41 PM

And after 40 years it turns out a low Na diet doesn’t do crap to help lower your blood pressure.

Was “crap” too strong a word for THAT sentence?

WryTrvllr on January 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Current theory, nonpartisan is longtime HA commentor Chuck Shick.

Who’s willing to provide a grant for me to research this?

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Heh. If you take PayPal I’d pay up to 10,000 jiao for proof of that!

DarkCurrent on January 19, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Look at studies of Prilosec vs. Nexium, which are virtually identical. The former’s patent has expired. So one study says Nexium helps heal the throat, so they can cite that, and sell it as something better than Prilosec, even as a kind of miracle drug. It’s all about the money. A billion dollars, maybe. Not about patient care.

/$$$

Paul-Cincy on January 19, 2014 at 3:49 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

nonintelligent on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Old and Busted:

from my understanding, a skeet gun would lack killing power as its not built to kill

nonintelligent on April 7, 2013 at 11:45 AM

New and Improved!

a gun is a killing machine designed to kill and injure

nonintelligent on December 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Del Dolemonte on January 19, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Since we’re looking for grants…

It’s long-settled science that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters in 1,000 years they’ll come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. I hav the money for 1,000 monkeys and a 1,000 typewriters, and the air fresheners and the diapers, but if I had 10,000 or even 20,000 mokeys with typewriters I should be able to come up with several major literary works on our lifetimes. The fame and fortune would be tremendous!

And even in the first year the statistical probability is that we should be able to come up with a number of salable direct-to-DVD scripts.

I am currently looking for investors. (Jiao is accepted.)

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Faith in the God of the Bible seems less and less counter-factual (or ‘extra-factual’) every day.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Hey, whatever works for you. I was really trying to get at the point that religion tends to be fairly transparent as to what it is, and allows people to make their own judgements accordingly – dressing some bullsh1te up as “science”, whetherby ineptitude or deliberate disinformation, and delivering it down as absolute rules, is only going to give people a poor or confused impression of the scientific process. And that leads to awful situations like the MMR vaccine thing, to pick one example. There are many more.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I couldn’t find the words “Christianity, religion, God, Bible, or even, koran or allah” in the article.

Are you just another anti-theist using myth and prejudice to try and to dismiss Christians? (In spite of your condescending “whatever works for you” sideswipe.)

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Current theory, nonpartisan is longtime HA commentor Chuck Shick.

Who’s willing to provide a grant for me to research this?

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Where’s the profit?

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

New studies show Liptor doesn’t lower LDL after all (but has other endothelial benefits). So instead of titrating Liptor to LDL, we are told to give a fixed dose. How did this dose get determined? We do know that Liptor has significant side effects. Are they taken into account?

And in Britain, healthy patients are put on statins prophylactically. But where is the science?

I’ll stick with my Linus Pauling (another subject of scientific neglect and research bias).

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Where’s the profit?

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

It’s science in the public interest.

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Where’s the profit?

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

There’s definite potential for huge ROI here. Send as much as you can.

DarkCurrent on January 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Liars figure and figures lie. Many times so called scientist will fudge statistics to get government grants.

jaywemm on January 19, 2014 at 4:18 PM

It’s science in the public interest.

Murphy9 on January 19, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Then the grant comes out of obama’s stash.

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 4:21 PM

There’s definite potential for huge ROI here. Send as much as you can.

DarkCurrent on January 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

I guess I *could* sink all of my Powerball winnings into it.

Solaratov on January 19, 2014 at 4:23 PM

If you research the correct agenda items your career prospers.

If you oppose the current theoretical hot topics you lose.

This becomes a self-selecting bias.

Which is unscientific.

So any research bent to push a political or social agenda will always be crapulous.

profitsbeard on January 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM

It’s a shame that the God of the Bible is considered to be irrational or unreasonable, and that the Bible, or those who believe it, have an undeserved reputation for being contra-science. The scientific empirical method was pioneered by Christians who drew inspiration from the Bible; as it says of God: “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?”

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word (Koiné Greek logos: logic, reason), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I was watching some archaeology documentary where their research proved that ancient people who live on the edge of the ocean ate a lot of fish. Really? How many millions for that discovery? lol!

Blake on January 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM

λόγος

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Interesting that DDT didn’t make the story……..

Not sure what the value of pointing out bogus tips to getting a high score on an intelligence test is when compared to the number of people who died as a result of a report on the dangers (faked) of DDT.

BobMbx on January 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

yeah, science is a load of bs

we should all just read fairy tales in the bible, koran, torah, etc everyday and life would be all peachy

nonpartisan on January 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Hey 77, you’re as simplistic as usual and you come again with your logical fallacies. My bet: You never graduated high school. (NO GED either). You’re not smart enough.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

I couldn’t find the words “Christianity, religion, God, Bible, or even, koran or allah” in the article.
Are you just another anti-theist using myth and prejudice to try and to dismiss Christians? (In spite of your condescending “whatever works for you” sideswipe.)

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Hi, if you’ll look back through the conversation, I was responding to flicker, who was responding to my reply to nonpartisan, who was the one who brought up religion in typical flamebait style – my fault for bothering to try to give a sensible reply, I suppose.

I am not an anti-theist, I have no intentions to dismiss Christians, or anyone else, and I’m sorry if my post came across in that way.

I hope that clears things up.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Thankfully the science of climate change is settled and is beyond reasonable dispute. Therefore we are perfectly justified in changing our entire way of life and investing trillions of dollars in “alternative energy” investments championed by Algore. MANBEARPIG MUST DIE!!!

Outlander on January 19, 2014 at 4:58 PM

The biggest problem is that a lot of “scientific” research is really all about propaganda. People respect science, so advocacy groups do studies and claim “science” backing for their opinions.

This is especially true of social sciences. Virtually any study that says something about controversial topics such as homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia, etc. is suspect. The Kinsey research studies drove the sexual revolution and completely reshaped our culture, but it turned out that much of it was blatantly fraudulent.

Science is a great tool, but people keep trying to apply it in cases where it’s not possible to control all the elements of the experiment. For instance, a study trying to prove that the children of homosexual “couples” turn out just as well as the children of normal couples has an impossible task, since children raised by homosexual “couples” are rare, and were by definition not the biological children of the two. Which means that any statistics about such children will reflect the instability — usually including divorce — around their birth and early upbringing.

And psychological “science” studies about how children are raised cannot take into account all the factors about what makes people tick, anyway. We are far too complex creatures to be reduced to a handful of urges and drives.

But even when you turn away from such soft sciences as sociology and psychology to something like diet and nutrition — which presumably should be a much “harder” science — you quickly find out that some of the conclusions from past science are not at all reliable. Salt is the devil — no, wait, it’s not so bad for you after all. Cholesterol causes heart disease — no, wait, the evidence for that is actually pretty slim. Fats are bad for you — no, wait, they’re actually an essential part of your diet.

Bottom line: Science is good. When it’s not crap.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 19, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Science! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10582504/Smoking-increases-chances-of-child-being-gay-in-adulthood.html

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 4:57 PM

No wonder the Libfrees and non-nonpartisan types are called ‘smokers’.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 19, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I think I understood your post. And I pretty much agreed with it, and only added that belief in the Biblical God is a rational position.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Interesting that DDT didn’t make the story……..

Not sure what the value of pointing out bogus tips to getting a high score on an intelligence test is when compared to the number of people who died as a result of a report on the dangers (faked) of DDT.

BobMbx on January 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Scientists also told us, at varying times in history, the following:

1. The Earth is flat.

2. The Sun revolves around the Earth, not vice-versa.

3. Brain cells cannot regenerate.

4. Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

5. There is no gravity in space.

Del Dolemonte on January 19, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Most of it is, CRAP.

Every 10 years they change “facts” and call it ” NEW RESEARCH “.

TX-96 on January 19, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Hi, if you’ll look back through the conversation, I was responding to flicker, who was responding to my reply to nonpartisan, who was the one who brought up religion in typical flamebait style – my fault for bothering to try to give a sensible reply, I suppose.

I am not an anti-theist, I have no intentions to dismiss Christians, or anyone else, and I’m sorry if my post came across in that way.

I hope that clears things up.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Hey, whatever works for you. I was really trying to get at the point that religion tends to be fairly transparent as to what it is, and allows people to make their own judgements accordingly – dressing some bullsh1te up as “science”, whetherby ineptitude or deliberate disinformation, and delivering it down as absolute rules, is only going to give people a poor or confused impression of the scientific process. And that leads to awful situations like the MMR vaccine thing, to pick one example. There are many more.

Ramadahl on January 19, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Yeah, I totally misread your intent.

Maybe it was just the article you referenced which didn’t mention anything about how religion was transparently dressing up some “bullsh1te” as science.

Maybe in one of the “many more” situations?

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Anyone else notice that after months and months of being destroyed non-nonpartisan has stolen the anti-religion shtick of some of our other bigoted trolls? Kind of funny in way. So “not much there” with that one.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 19, 2014 at 5:19 PM

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Yes, psychoactive drugs (sleep agents, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety, and ADD/ADHD drugs) are probably on balance the kind of things that alter your thinking enough in the short term to cause harm, or in the long term, to keep you from getting better by more conservative means. Even blood pressure meds have a strong psychoactive component.

I can’t get over the sales strategy that ends every drug commercial with: “May cause drowsiness, sleepwalking, hallucinations or violent rage, gastric upset, nausea, sudden unexpected explosive diarrhea, heart attack stroke, depression, suicide and death by any other cause. Consult your physician before using.”

But I guess they work.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Interesting that DDT didn’t make the story……..

Not sure what the value of pointing out bogus tips to getting a high score on an intelligence test is when compared to the number of people who died as a result of a report on the dangers (faked) of DDT.

BobMbx on January 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Alar is in the same category.

While Alar has been verified as a human carcinogen, the amount necessary for it to be dangerous may well be extremely high. The lab tests that prompted the scare required an amount of Alar equal to over 5,000 gallons (20,000 L) of apple juice per day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alar

Renowned scientist Myrel Streep was instrumental in getting ALAR banned costing growers and consumers millions of dollars:

As Neil Hrab, CEI’s 2003-04 Warren T. Brookes journalism fellow, recounted in the American Spectator: “Within weeks of Streep testifying before Congress, Uniroyal, the company that manufactured Alar, began the triage to save its reputation, withdrawing the chemical from the U.S. market. In November of 1989, the EPA ordered a ban on the sale, distribution and use.”

But major scientific bodies would conclude that the Alar scare had been nothing but a bunch of hype. The American Medical Association stated in 1992: “The Alar scare of three years ago shows what can happen when science is taken out of context or the risks of a product are blown out of proportion. When used in the approved, regulated fashion, as it was, Alar does not pose a risk to the public’s health.” Others who condemned the scare included the World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

http://cei.org/op-eds-and-articles/meryl-streeps-attack-julia-child-ironic-ungrateful

It is still banned by the EPA.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 5:36 PM

But I guess they work.

flicker on January 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

What amazes me is how medicines do wildly different things to people. Few drugs that I take perform as advertised.

I have (self-diagnosed) chronic fatigue syndrome. I take Ad derall for ADD. I’ve taken high doses of it and could sleep within a couple hours of taking them.

I’ve taken Provigil with the same results. I’ve taken high doses of Synthroid and have not experienced the increased metabolism one would expect. Caffeine calms me down.

My wife has fibromyalgia. Anyone familiar with fibro knows how frustrating it is to find that drug or combination of drugs that will control the pain.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Add er all is banned by the mod.

davidk on January 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Bmore…ending

KOOLAID2 on January 19, 2014 at 6:15 PM

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