Mod+ 261. WHY SCIENCE IS WRONG...ABOUT ALMOST EVERYTHING

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by John Maguire, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I think that one defence of Alex's choice of his book title, is to use President Clinton's argument - it depends on the definition of the word 'is'!

    Nobody argues that science was right about a hell of a lot of stuff in the past, but then it bloated out and became insanely arrogant so that right now it is wrong about a hell of a lot!

    What all those fake papers really tell us, is that peer review is badly broken by now. If the reviewers could be fooled by computer generated gibberish, how much easier would it have been to fool them with papers that used fake data, or performed unreasonable adjustments to data to obtain the desired result?

    To me, this reveals a deeper level of pretence in science - for just how long does it take to read a paper well enough to be able to say whether it is suitable for publication? Some papers might need months of work to unravel, or would really require some attempt at replication to validate them - yet reviewers simply can't afford to spend that amount of effort when the system offers them no reward for exploring other's work.

    As has been revealed in Climate Science, often the actual data on which a paper is based, is not available for a variety of reasons - so that reproduction is impossible. Like many other areas of modern science, many published results are based on huge computer models. Anyone who believes these are a useful tool should read this:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/confessions-of-a-computer-modeler-1404861351

    How is any potential reviewer of such work supposed to operate? Is he supposed to obtain the program in source form, check that it produces the specified result, then analyse the whole thing for bugs and valid assumptions, and to determine what range of alternative conclusions were possible by tweaking the code - as the above article discusses?

    Given that we all depend on it for so much, I find the state of modern science quite scary.

    David
     
  2. Science is wrong about almost everything because ...

    http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default...ntegrity/how-corporations-corrupt-science.pdf
     
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  3. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1512330

    The New England Journal of Medicine

    Peer-Review Fraud — Hacking the Scientific Publication Process

    Charlotte J. Haug, M.D., Ph.D.

    October 21, 2015 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1512330

    In August 2015, the publisher Springer retracted 64 articles from 10 different subscription journals “after editorial checks spotted fake email addresses, and subsequent internal investigations uncovered fabricated peer review reports,” according to a statement on their website.1 The retractions came only months after BioMed Central, an open-access publisher also owned by Springer, retracted 43 articles for the same reason.
    ...
    How is it possible to fake peer review? Moon, who studies medicinal plants, had set up a simple procedure. He gave journals recommendations for peer reviewers for his manuscripts, providing them with names and e-mail addresses. But these addresses were ones he created, so the requests to review went directly to him or his colleagues.

    People don't trust scientists and they are right not to.

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=peer+review+fraud&btnG=Google+Search&gbv=1
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
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  4. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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  5. Remember peak oil?

     
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  6. http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2015-11-17-half-worlds-natural-history-specimens-may-have-wrong-name
    Half the world's natural history specimens may have the wrong name
    ...
    'Many areas in the biological sciences, including academic studies of evolution and applied conservation, as well as achieving the 2020 targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, are underpinned by accurate naming,' explains Dr Robert Scotland of the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford. 'Without accurate names on specimens, the records held in collections around the world would make no sense, as they don't correspond to the reality outside.' Dr Scotland also points out that the negative effects of this are increasingly multiplied as large databases are aggregated online, gathering together vast amounts of specimen data, many of which have incorrect species names.​

    http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(15)01228-2?_returnURL=http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0960982215012282?showall=true

    Widespread mistaken identity in tropical plant collections
    ...
    Specimens of plants and animals preserved in museums are the primary source of verifiable data on the geographical and temporal distribution of organisms. Museum datasets are increasingly being uploaded to aggregated regional and global databases (e.g. the Global Biodiversity Information Facility; GBIF) for use in a wide range of analyses [1] . Thus, digitisation of natural history collections is providing unprecedented information to facilitate the study of the natural world on a global scale. The digitisation of this information utilises information provided on specimen labels, and assumes they are correctly identified. Here we evaluate the accuracy of names associated with 4,500 specimens of African gingers from 40 herbaria in 21 countries. Our data show that at least 58% of the specimens had the wrong name prior to a recent taxonomic study. A similar pattern of wrongly named specimens is also shown for Dipterocarps and Ipomoea (morning glory). We also examine the number of available plant specimens worldwide. Our data demonstrate that, while the world’s collections have more than doubled since 1970, more than 50% of tropical specimens, on average, are likely to be incorrectly named. This finding has serious implications for the uncritical use of specimen data from natural history collections.​
     
  7. "Dr. Prasad and Dr. Cifu extrapolate from past reversals to conclude that about 40 percent of what we consider state-of-the-art health care is likely to turn out to be unhelpful or actually harmful."
    ...
    "Recent official flip-flops include habits of treating everything from lead poisoning to blood clots, from kidney stones to heart attacks. One reversal concerned an extremely common orthopedic procedure, the surgical repair of the meniscus in the knee, which turns out to be no more effective than physical therapy alone. The interested reader can plow through almost 150 disproved treatments in the book’s appendix."
    ...
    "Often it is the treatments that make the most theoretical sense that fail."
    ...
    "As Dr. Prasad and Dr. Cifu point out, it all forces a careful, critical look at the scientific paradigm that rules medicine these days."


    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/when-medicine-reverses-itself/?ref=health&_r=0

    The consequences of medical reversal are complicated. For starters, reversal challenges the notion that medicine is scientific — the premise that a century ago helped doctors to exorcise images of snake oil and hucksterism. But despite impressive progress, faith in medical leadership is currently at its lowest point in 50 years, a decline likely accelerated by a widespread sense that medical dogma often flip-flops.

    Famous past examples include hormone replacement therapy, for years recommended and routinely prescribed to prevent heart attacks in women. When finally tested in trials, the pills were found to increase heart attacks and breast cancer. Huge trials demonstrate that prostate-specific antigen as a cancer screen failed to reduce deaths while increasing surgeries and complications, findings that led even the inventor to renounce the test. And yet its use is still routine. Cardiac stenting, an invasive and potentially risky heart procedure, can save lives during a heart attack, but large studies show that stents placed in most other circumstances — the great majority of stents — had no beneficial effects.
    ...
    In one timely section of the book, Dr. Prasad discusses screening mammography, a practice intertwined with the treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ, two widespread practices teetering on the edge of reversal. In mega-trials analyzed more than a decade ago, mammograms failed to save lives (findings reconfirmed yet again this year), while last month the largest ever study of D.C.I.S. found the condition confers no increased risk of dying from breast cancer and may not benefit from treatment at all.

    The pattern repeats: A promising new therapy or technology is introduced based on weak data and later, more rigorous studies discredit the practice. When I spoke with Dr. Prasad, he suggested a more staid, scientific approach. “The adoption of practices based on little or no good evidence is our biggest problem,” he said.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/s...g-medical-reversal-laments-flip-flopping.html

    “Ending Medical Reversal” is a subtly subversive book in need of a considerably snappier title. “OOPS!” perhaps, or “Are You Kidding Me?”

    This last was the reaction of a diabetic patient described by the authors who, after years spent dutifully following the most spartan of diets in order to keep his blood sugar in check, just learned he needn’t have bothered.

    ...
    An old saw has long held that 50 percent of everything a student learns in medical school is wrong. Actual calculations suggest that number is not too far off base — Dr. Prasad and Dr. Cifu extrapolate from past reversals to conclude that about 40 percent of what we consider state-of-the-art health care is likely to turn out to be unhelpful or actually harmful.

    Recent official flip-flops include habits of treating everything from lead poisoning to blood clots, from kidney stones to heart attacks. One reversal concerned an extremely common orthopedic procedure, the surgical repair of the meniscus in the knee, which turns out to be no more effective than physical therapy alone. The interested reader can plow through almost 150 disproved treatments in the book’s appendix.


    ...
    Often it is the treatments that make the most theoretical sense that fail.
    ...
    What could make more sense, after all, than finding some cancers early, fixing a piece of torn cartilage, closing a hole in the heart, and propping open blood vessels that have become perilously narrow? And yet not one of these helpful interventions has been shown to make a difference in the health or survival of patients who obediently line up to have them done.

    ...
    As Dr. Prasad and Dr. Cifu point out, it all forces a careful, critical look at the scientific paradigm that rules medicine these days.
    ...
    To fix this constant backtracking would require nothing less than a revolution in how doctors are trained, with an emphasis on the proven and practical rather than the theoretical.
    Science didn't elimintate superstition. It just provided a new, more credible, framework upon which superstition could be erected...
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  8. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    Just a thank you for the lots of of info you post. ;;/?
     
  9. Science is wrong about almost everything ... because many controversies are skewed to one side by moneyed interests who use media and internet savvy to create a false reality that fools most people including doctors and scientists who then spread the misinformation.

    TEDx:


    The talk includes a discussion of how wikipedia (3:57) has been complicit in the problem. Wikipedia contradicted medical research 90% of the time (5:31). She mentions the immunisation / autism controversy without giving details but implies the mainstream view is astroturfed.

    The speaker suggests how to recognize propaganda and astroturf 8:55:

    • "Use of inflammatory language such as crank, quack, nutty, lies, paranoid, pseudo, and conspiracy."
    • "Astroturfers often claim to debunk myths that aren't myths at all. Use of the charged language tests well, pepole hear that something's a myth maybe they find it on snopes... and they instantly declare themselves too smart to fall for it. But what if the whole notion of the myth is itself a myth and you and snopes fell for that."
    • "Beware when interests attack an issue by controversializing or attacking the people, personalities and organizations surrounding it rather than addressing the facts."
    • "Astroturfers tend to reserve all of their public skepticism for those exposing wrong doing rather than the wrong doers. In other words, instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority."
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  10. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... government scientists know which side their bread is buttered on...

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/17/e...-thermometers-that-inflate-u-s-warming-trend/
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
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  11. SkepticRecruiterRecruiter

    SkepticRecruiterRecruiter New

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    Jim didn't even give you a like for this generous comment! I suppose it might throw off his chi equilibrium or something.
     
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  12. SkepticRecruiterRecruiter

    SkepticRecruiterRecruiter New

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  13. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    @Alex, I just got the latest issue of the Journal of Near-Death Studies (33 (3)), in case you're not subscribed already, and your book is reviewed (positively). :) The reviewer is Bryan Stare, a counselor and doctoral student at the University of North Texas.
     
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  14. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... established scientists block new ideas:


    http://www.nber.org/papers/w21788


    Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?

    Pierre Azoulay, Christian Fons-Rosen, Joshua S. Graff Zivin

    NBER Working Paper No. 21788
    Issued in December 2015
    NBER Program(s): PR


    We study the extent to which eminent scientists shape the vitality of their fields by examining entry rates into the fields of 452 academic life scientists who pass away while at the peak of their scientific abilities. Key to our analyses is a novel way to delineate boundaries around scientific fields by appealing solely to intellectual linkages between scientists and their publications, rather than collaboration or co-citation patterns. Consistent with previous research, the flow of articles by collaborators into affected fields decreases precipitously after the death of a star scientist (relative to control fields). In contrast, we find that the flow of articles by non-collaborators increases by 8% on average. These additional contributions are disproportionately likely to be highly cited. They are also more likely to be authored by scientists who were not previously active in the deceased superstar’s field. Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of “foreign” ideas.

     
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  15. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    Yes. Planck said as much:
    "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."​
     
  16. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... it is almost impossible to eradicate scientific misinformation.

    Nature: The science myths that will not die... Once a myth is here, it is often here to stay. Psychological studies suggest that the very act of attempting to dispel a myth leads to stronger attachment to it. In one experiment, exposure to pro-vaccination messages reduced parents' intention to vaccinate their children in the United States. In another, correcting misleading claims from politicians increased false beliefs among those who already held them. “Myths are almost impossible to eradicate,” says Kirschner. “The more you disprove it, often the more hard core it becomes.”


    http://www.nature.com/news/the-science-myths-that-will-not-die-1.19022

    Nature | News Feature

    The science myths that will not die

    False beliefs and wishful thinking about the human experience are common. They are hurting people — and holding back science.
    Megan Scudellari

    16 December 2015

    Megan Scudellari

    ...
    Once a myth is here, it is often here to stay. Psychological studies suggest that the very act of attempting to dispel a myth leads to stronger attachment to it. In one experiment, exposure to pro-vaccination messages reduced parents' intention to vaccinate their children in the United States. In another, correcting misleading claims from politicians increased false beliefs among those who already held them. “Myths are almost impossible to eradicate,” says Kirschner. “The more you disprove it, often the more hard core it becomes.”​
     
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  17. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... graduate students want to change the world rather than discover truths.

    http://quillette.com/2015/12/04/rebellious-scientist-surprising-truth-about-stereotypes/
    ...
    Published on December 4, 2015
    ...
    Graduate students were entering the field in order to change the world rather than discover truths.
    ...
    ... the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results.
    ...
    While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology. The field had become a community in which political values and moral aims were shared,
    ...
    out of 100 psychological studies, only about 30%-50% could be replicated
    ...​
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    This is a great example of degenerate science, and indeed Lewandowsky was attempting to back up another (supposedly physical) science!

    I think the phrase 'degenerate science' is perhaps better than 'corrupt science', because I think very few of the promoters of this nonsense think of themselves as corrupt (their payments flow very indirectly) - they just don't have any idea what real science is like.

    David
     
  19. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... scientists and science journalists collaborate in attracting attention to themselves to advance their careers and promote political agendas through publicity stunts like this:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...la-urges-humanity-stop-destroying-planet.html
    'Man stupid. Protect Earth': New Year message from Koko the gorilla, who urges humanity to stop destroying the planet​
     
  20. Science is wrong about almost everything because ... they have to lie about history, creating a myth that Christianity impeded the development of science, in order to protect methodological naturalism and materialism from philosophical opposition.

    "...the “scientific revolution” was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. ... Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization."

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/10/modern-sciences-christian-sources

    Modern Science’s Christian Sources

    Exploding the persistant myth that Christianity impeded the growth of science.

    by James Hannam

    October 2011
    ...
    Back in 1978, Carl Sagan included a time line of scientific progress in his book Cosmos, showing that nothing at all happened between a.d. 415 and a.d. 1543. This barren period, he implied, was caused by the thousand-year dominance of Christianity. The “conflict thesis” of science and religion was born in the salons of ancien régime France, where philosophes like Voltaire and d’Alembert used it as a weapon against the Catholic Church. It was further developed in Victorian England by T. H. Huxley in his battle to diminish the influence of the clergy in London’s Royal Society. And it was perfected in American universities by the likes of Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, who provided the theory with intellectual ballast in his heavily annotated A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology at the end of the nineteenth century. It has been promoted in countless articles in popular magazines and elementary-school textbooks.
    ...
    ...the “scientific revolution” was a continuation of developments that started deep in the Middle Ages among people whose scientific work expressed their religious belief. The conflict thesis, in other words, is a myth.
    ...
    As it happens, much of the evidence marshaled in favor of the conflict thesis turns out to be bogus.
    ...
    It is remarkable that authors who consider themselves skeptics can swallow some of these stories whole.
    ...
    Historians have been debunking these legends for over a century now, but each new generation of popular writers continues to recycle them.
    ...
    Modern science stands as one of the great achievements of Western civilization—not of Islam, China, or even ancient Greece. Many historians of science are still reluctant to admit this. They praise ancient Greek and Arabic sciences as successful on their own terms but have lost sight of the fact that the theories advanced by early science were largely false.
    ...
    Aristotle started from the passive observation of nature and then built up a system based on rational argument. This had two enormous disadvantages: Compared to controlled experiments, passive observation is usually misleading, and not even Aristotle’s powers of reason could prevent blunders in his arguments.
    ...
    Aristotle’s faulty method was struck down by the Catholic Church, allowing previously forbidden ideas to flourish. The Church also made natural philosophy a compulsory part of the courses it required trainee theologians to follow. So, science held a central place in Christian centers of learning that it did not hold in Islamic madrassas. And Christianity itself provided a worldview especially compatible with experimental science.
    ...
    Christianity made science a theologically justified and even righteous path to pursue. Since God created the world, exploring how it works honors its Creator.
    ...
    Christians realized it was impossible to work out the laws of nature through rational analysis alone. The only way to discover his plan was to go out and look.
    ...
    Given the advantages Christianity provided, it is hardly surprising that modern science developed only in the West, within a Christian civilization. Although other religious traditions could have provided a similarly fertile metaphysical ground for the study of nature, none actually did so. Christianity was a crucial cause of the unique development of Western science, the only science that has consistently produced true theories of nature.​
     

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