November 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM
The sad state of modern science
Two stories today illustrate the levels of corruption that now percolate
through many fields of science, helped by a willing and sometimes ignorant
First, a final report has been issued in the investigation into the fraudulent
research of social psychologist Diederik Stapel. Sadly, it appears the report
condemns the entire field:
[The investigators] paint an image of a “sloppy” research culture in which some
scientists don’t understand the essentials of statistics, journal-selected
article reviewers encourage researchers to leave unwelcome data out of their
papers, and even the most prestigious journals print results that are obviously
too good to be true.
Worse, three different universities participated in Stapel’s fraud, and never
noticed. At least 25 of Stapel’s papers have now been retracted.
Then there is this article about an investigation into the lack of scientific
merit of a paper that claimed that genetically modified maize caused tumors in
rats. Apparently, according to European scientific authorities, the paper had
no merit and did not meet the basics of scientific research. Nor was this
investigation the first to come to this conclusion.
First, that the paper got published in a peer reviewed journal in the first
place says a great deal about that journal’s standards. Second, when first
published the paper had been condemned immediately but a number of scientists.
yet it apparently received tons of adoring press coverage, probably because it
provided evidence for the politically correct position that genetically
modified agriculture is bad. Both facts suggest that this is another case,
similar to that of the climate field, where scientists allowed politics to
badly influence their judgement.
All in all, not a good day for science and its reputation.
[Roger Clough], [rclo...@verizon.net]
"Forever is a long time, especially near the end." -Woody Allen
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