Mod+ Why you, me, and our neighbors have a distrust of science and New York Times science journalists

Why you, me, and our neighbors have a distrust of science and New York Times science journalists
by Alex Tsakiris | Sep 8 | Skepticism

George Johnson’s recent piece in the New York Times demonstrates what’s wrong with status quo science and lazy science journalism.
Photo by Scott Beale

New York Times science writer George Johnson just published an article bemoaning science’s loss of credibility among folks like you and me. Near the top of George’s laments is that the “hard-won consensus of science” seems to be melting away. Before reminding George science’s purpose is to dissolve consensuses and follow the data wherever it leads, I’d suggest we take a look at some of the issues George worries about:

“On one front after another, the hard-won consensus of science is also expected to accommodate personal beliefs, religious or oth
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I have a distrust of all journalists but especially those who write for the NYT. Science journalism is not more or less accurate than any other subject. At least with science journalism you can often find the original research on-line. The difference between the NYT and the National Enquirer is merely a matter of subtlety.

The article mentions everything except the most important reason people don't trust science ... because the scientists themselves say that science is not reliable:

Most published research findings are false:

Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo: "... inherent biases and the flawed statistical analyses built into most 'hypothesis driven' research, resulting in publications that largely represent 'accurate measures of the prevailing bias.'"

Linus Pauling: "Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud and that the major cancer research organizations are derelict in their duties to the people who support them." -Linus Pauling PhD (Two-time Nobel Prize winner)."

"The Lancet": The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness."

"Nature": "Ridding science of shoddy statistics will require scrutiny of every step, not merely the last one, say Jeffrey T. Leek and Roger D. Peng."

Retraction Watch

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers: "The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense."

"Der Spiegel protested all of this discussion with the statement, that what they hear is that 'journalists want to earn money, whereas scientists are only seeking the truth.' This brought loud guffaws from all three [professors]. 'Scientists,' answered Dr. Fischer, 'want success; they want a wife, a hotel room, an invitation, or perhaps a car!'"

The History of Important Scientific Discoveries Initially Rejected and Ridiculed.
From the article:
I heard from young anthropologists, speaking the language of postmodernism, who consider science to be just another tool with which Western colonialism further extends its “cultural hegemony” by marginalizing the dispossessed and privileging its own worldview.
I agree with those sentiments. The arrogance of scientists leads them to ignore the practical knowledge that ordinary people have and use in daily life.

And it is good to continually challenge rigid categories and entrenched beliefs. But that comes at a sacrifice when the subjective is elevated over the assumption that lurking out there is some kind of real world.
This is just rhetoric intended to obscure the fact that there can be legitimate differences about what the truth really is. Every scientific controversy shows that even scientists themselves don't agree on what the best interpretation of the evidence is.

For example, Nobel Prize winners Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Brian Josephson, Sir John Eccles, Eugene Wigner, George Wald and other great scientists and philosophers such as John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, Wernher von Braun, Karl Popper, and Carl Jung believed consciousness is non-physical because of the evidence:

Like creationists with their “intelligent design,” the followers of these causes come armed with their own personal science, assembled through Internet searches that inevitably turn up the contortions of special interest groups.
Creationists don't believe in intelligent design. Creationists believe in a young earth and the literal truth of the Bible. Scientists who study intelligent design don't dispute the age of the universe, the age of the earth, the age of the human species, or that the species living on the earth changed over time. Intelligent design is the science of how to identify artifacts of design ... like the difference between a stone arrow head and a chip of stone produced naturally. These artifacts include irreducible complexity, specified complexity, fine tuning of the universe to support life, etc. Intelligent design also involves theoretical work in information theory such as the no free lunch theorm and the law of conservation of information. Confusing creationism and intelligent design is a rhetorical tactic used by materialists to hide the failures of Darwinism and materialism by equating criticism with religious faith.
Nagel goes on to say something that likely will really rile some defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy:
I believe the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude...
Nagel was immediately set on and (symbolically) beaten to death by all the leading punks, bullies, and hangers-on of the philosophical underworld. Attacking Darwin is the sin against the Holy Ghost that pious scientists are taught never to forgive.
Many scientists believed the evidence that the universe was designed. These scientists include Nobel prize winners such as Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Guglielmo Marconi, Brian Josephson, William Phillips, Richard Smalley, Arno Penzias, Charles Townes Arthur Compton, Antony Hewish, Christian Anfinsen, Walter Kohn, Arthur Schawlow, and other scientists, Charles Darwin, Sir Fred Hoyle, John von Neumann, Wernher von Braun, and Louis Pasteur.
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The difference between the NYT and the National Enquirer is merely a matter of subtlety.
It only took me 30 minutes before I found an illustration just by chance:
De-sensationalizing China's reserve losses

Here's how the NY Times today described what is going on with China's currency and foreign exchange reserves (emphasis mine):

HONG KONG — China is burning through its huge stockpile of foreign exchange reserves at the fastest pace yet as it seeks to prop up its currency and stem a rising tide of money flowing out of the country.

Even after a record monthly decrease of nearly $100 billion, China still has the world’s biggest cache of foreign reserves, standing at $3.56 trillion at the end of last month, government data showed on Monday.

The total has declined steadily from a peak of nearly $4 trillion in June of last year, as slowing economic growth caused investors to move money out of the country in search of better returns elsewhere. As a result, the Chinese central bank has had to sell huge amounts from its foreign reserves to maintain the strength of the nation’s currency, the renminbi.
In reality, the news out of China is not nearly as breathless.

In August, China sold about $100 billion of its foreign exchange reserves, for a decline of 2.6%. China's reserves have now fallen by 11% from their all-time high just over a year ago. Since its all-time high early last year, the yuan has declined by about 5% vis a vis the dollar. The Chinese central bank is not seeking to "prop up" its currency; it is responding to what to date have been modest outflows of capital by lowering the yuan's peg to the dollar.

This marks a reversal of the yuan's trend over the previous 20 years, to be sure, but it does not represent a radical policy departure.
Even after its recent declines, the yuan's value is still almost double, in real terms, what it was against a large basket of currencies 20 years ago (the chart above reflects data through July '15). Remember how China's critics for many years have charged that China was artificially depressing the value of its currency in order to boost its exports? Now those same critics say the sky is falling because China is trying to keep its currency from weakening. In reality, the yuan has been and continues to be one of the world's strongest currencies, and China's foreign exchange reserves still tower over those of the world's developed economies.

UPDATE: more illustrations...
I have a distrust of all journalists
The Timothy Hunt affair represents more than the gratuitous eye-blink ruination of a great man’s reputation and career. It demonstrates the danger of the extraordinary, almost worshipful deference that academia, government institutions, and above all the mainstream media now accord to social media.
The BBC played an especially important role in turning Hunt into a hated figure. Anyone who still thinks that the BBC’s reportorial standards have not precipitately declined should read Mensch’s detailed accounting of the various misquotes and falsehoods about Hunt that the network came out with in various radio and television broadcasts across the world. This was especially true and especially damaging in the case of the flagship Radio 4 Today program, the All Things Considered of Great Britain.
It is telling that none of these mainstream organizations reported or seem to have known that, on the day after Hunt’s talk, the president of the European Research Commission (the delightfully named Jean-Pierre Bourguignon) had issued a statement in defense of Hunt and his record as a supporter of gender balance. He would have been an obvious person to ask for a comment.
St. Louis also went on the offensive. This included an article for the Guardian entitled “Stop Defending Tim Hunt.”
The coup de grâce came in July with Mensch’s release of a short recording from the luncheon. One can clearly hear applause and laughter in the room as Hunt ends his speech. Apparently out of a hundred guests from around the world, most of them women, the only people who were offended by Hunt’s remarks were a handful of British and American science writers, all of whom happen to be diversity obsessives.
Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy
On June 26, the Paris Court of Appeals found me guilty of defamation against television station France 2 and broadcaster Charles Enderlin.

After waiting one long week following the verdict, I was finally able to get the written arguments of the judges. The arguments state that — despite the hoax eventually becoming obvious to all who looked at the case — I was found guilty for having said that the al-Dura news report was a hoax … too early, in November 2004.
The most problematic issue is that the verdict grants French journalists the privilege of being free from criticism regardless of their work’s authenticity. Indeed, the French authorities which should have forced France 2 to correct their fake report refused to act. The high authority which controls TV broadcasts — along with most of the French media outlets, French politicians, and the French judges — circled the wagons to protect a hoax which looks more and more like a state lie.
New York Magazine Apologizes for Article That Was a Hoax
Jayson Thomas Blair (born March 23, 1976) is an American journalist formerly with The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of plagiarism and fabrication in his stories.
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great stuff... it's overwhelming... of course, in a way, that works in their favor... it's hard for most to really come to gripes with extent of the shell game.
I think this misses the point. Science has become so involved with money and politics that it can't respond to mistakes, and it discourages those who want to rock the boat be exposing mistakes - the very opposite of what science should be about.

Let's take one example - the knee jerk dismissal of the idea that nuclear fusion could be produced by electrochemical processes - so called "Cold Fusion".

Go to this site, and choose any of the talks by people in reputable research posts. Some are given by an MIT professor, who prefixes his talk by a statement that taking an interest in "Cold Fusion" can seriously damage your career!

Alternatively you can read about what is happening in medical research:

(The author is a practising GP in the UK).

One example of people losing faith in medical science, is in relation to statins (the drugs that lower cholesterol). For years people have been told that these drugs only have rare side effects, and yet after I had nasty problems with Simvastatin I discovered that numbers of my friends of about the same age, had had similar experiences! The above book goes further and challenges the very idea that moderately raised cholesterol is even bad for you.

There are many more examples of science gone bad, some of which have been discussed at length on this site.

I think modern science has become frighteningly divorced from its roots based on a fearless enquiry into the truth about nature.

Gradually institutionalised science has found a way to silence its critics. They are kept from speaking at conferences, and often described as "science deniers", even when they were formerly senior scientists.

Gradually institutionalised science has found a way to silence its critics. They are kept from speaking at conferences, and often described as "science deniers", even when they were formerly senior scientists.

The first example is from an interview in which near-death experience researcher, Raymond Moody, tells how his own family committed him to a psychiatric hospital when he began to study the afterlife. He later went on to become one of best known pioneers of near-death experience research and is the author of the classic work on near-death experiences Life after Life as well as several other books.

The second example shows how Nobel prize winner Brian Josephson was ostracized by his colleagues and excluded from a scientific conference because of his interest paranormal research.

In the third example, Richard Sternberg explains how he was persecuted for authorizing the publication an article on Intelligent Design that had passed peer-review in a journal he edited.


Certain invitees to a workshop on the Foundations of Physics received from the organisers letters withdrawing their invitations. The letter to Brian Josephson asserted:
"It has come to my attention that one of your principal research interests is the paranormal ... in my view, it would not be appropriate for someone with such research interests to attend a scientific conference."


In 2004, in my capacity as editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, I authorized The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories by Dr. Stephen Meyer to be published in the journal after passing peer-review. Because Dr. Meyer's article presented scientific evidence for intelligent design in biology, I faced retaliation, defamation, harassment, and a hostile work environment at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History that was designed to force me out as a Research Associate there. These actions were taken by federal government employees acting in concert with an outside advocacy group, the National Center for Science Education. Efforts were also made to get me fired from my job as a staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Subsequently, there were two federal investigations of my mistreatment, one by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in 2005 , and the other by subcommittee staff of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform in 2006. Both investigations unearthed clear evidence that my rights had been repeatedly violated. Because there has been so much misinformation spread about what actually happened to me, I have decided to make available the relevant documents here for those who would like to know the truth.
"It has come to my attention that one of your principal research interests is the paranormal ... in my view, it would not be appropriate for someone with such research interests to attend a scientific conference."
I have some hopeful news about the possibility of "mainstreaming" the data about the dangerous side-effects of some vaccines (and systemic corruption in medical industry and medical regulation which stand in the way of any honest attempts to inform the population about them): a congressman asked for hearings of autism-vaccine link (VAL) whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson from the CDC.

Maybe this is the genuine chance for Thompson to be heard, to present the CDC documents which he revealed - because until now, his message was supressed by the mainstream media:

And "skeptical" (read: mainstreamist) movement, of course, are trying their worst to malign and vilify Thompson, and stop his work of exposure.

The ugliest fact here is blatant censorship of evidence pointing to VAL by Google. If you start a search on this topic (for example, try putting "vaccine autism" in the search bar), you won't get any links to VAL proponent websites. I mean exactly that - no links at all, not even on some obscure n-th page which won't be looked at by most searchers anyway. Only the mainsteam sources and a plently of skeptical slander-sites attacking the issue.

To be precise, one can find VAL proponent sites like VaxTruth via Google if one directly puts their name in the search bar. So, one should know about these sites in advance; otherwise, Google will be of no help in your inquiry. Such concealment of vital data from the general public is inexcusable.
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I have a distrust of all journalists ...

Lies of the Daily Mail

By Cory Doctorow at 7:00 am Fri, Jan 3, 2014

Yesterday's New Statesman published a long, nuanced profile of Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the despicable Daily Mail. Dacre's a remarkable and contradictory character, profiled with some sympathy but no white-washing by Peter Wilby, but the most striking moment of the piece comes in the first third, when Wilby lays out all the admitted falsehoods and libels published by the Daily Mail -- a list that is incomplete because it only consists of those where retractions, legal action, or other visible signals of falsehood were raised. There's a much longer list of smears and lies about people who couldn't afford to defend themselves from the paper (or couldn't bear to). Still, it's a hell of a list:

This year, the Mail reported that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax; that asylum-seekers had “targeted” Scotland; that disabled babies were being euthanised under the Liverpool Care Pathway; that a Kenyan asylum-seeker had committed murders in his home country; that 878,000 recipients of Employment Support Allowance had stopped claiming “rather than face a fresh medical”; that a Portsmouth primary school had denied pupils water on the hottest day of the year because it was Ramadan; that wolves would soon return to Britain; that nearly half the electricity produced by windfarms was discarded. All these reports were false.

Mail executives argue that it gets more complaints than its rivals because it reaches more readers (particularly online, where the paper’s stories are repeated and others originate), prints more pages and tackles more serious and politically challenging issues. They point out that only six complaints were upheld after going through all the PCC’s stages and that the Sun and Telegraph, despite fewer complaints, had more upheld. But the PCC list, though it contains some of the Mail’s favourite targets such as asylum-seekers and “scroungers”, merely scratches the surface. Other complainants turned to the law. In the past ten years, the Mail has reported that the dean of RAF College Cranwell showed undue favouritism to Muslim students (false); the film producer Steve Bing hired a private investigator to destroy the reputation of his former lover Liz Hurley (false); the actress Sharon Stone left her four-year-old child alone in a car while she dined at a restaurant (false); the actor Rowan Atkinson needed five weeks’ treatment at a clinic for depression (false); a Tamil refugee, on hunger strike in Parliament Square, was secretly eating McDonald’s burgers (false); the actor Kate Winslet lied over her exercise regime (false); the singer Elton John ordered guests at his Aids charity ball to speak to him only if spoken to (false); Amama Mbabazi, the prime minister of Uganda, benefited personally from the theft of £10m in foreign aid (false). In all these cases, the Mail paid damages.

Then there are the subjects that the Mail and other right-wing papers will never drop. One is the EU, which, the Mail reported last year, proposed to ban books such as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series that portray “traditional” families. Another is local authorities, forever plotting to expel Christmas from public life and replace it with the secular festival of Winterval. It does not matter how often these reports are denied and their flimsy provenance exposed; the Mail keeps on running them and its columnists cite them as though they were accepted wisdom.

The paper gets away with publishing libels and falsehoods and with invasions of privacy because the penalties are insignificant.​
The difference between the NYT and the National Enquirer is merely a matter of subtlety.

The New York Times’ Nail Salons Series Was Filled with Misquotes and Factual Errors. Here’s Why That Matters.

Reporter Sarah Maslin Nir's investigative series violated the standards of responsible journalism.

Jim Epstein|Oct. 27, 2015 12:01 am

A two-part series in The New York Times on nail salons has brought sweeping changes to an industry dominated by Korean and Chinese immigrants.
Not only did Nir's coverage broadly mischaracterize the nail salon industry, several of the men and women she spoke with say she misquoted or misrepresented them. In some cases, she interviewed sources without translators despite their poor English skills. When her sources' testimonies ran counter to her narrative, she omitted them altogether.
The second article lent the Times' imprimatur to unproven theories, while committing science journalism's cardinal sin of highlighting alarmist anecdotes that aren't representative of systematic research.
The rush to legislate based solely on the Times' shoddy reporting has hurt the industry.
Bernstein charged that Nir's story focused on a small segment of the industry while ignoring the vast majority of nail salons, which pay above the minimum wage and hire only licensed manicurists.

Cool. Thanks for this.
I know this is a reply to an older post but it caught my eye. I looked at the current google results, the goodgopher and bing results. Indeed, with my setup google shows mainly pro vaccine results, goodgopher is very diverse but surprisingly bing brought up an interesting article about a study I had not seen yet:

All mainstream stuff imho

I do not say whether I am pro or con vaccines or anything, just relaying the information :)
I know this is a reply to an older post but it caught my eye. I looked at the current google results, the goodgopher and bing results. Indeed, with my setup google shows mainly pro vaccine results, goodgopher is very diverse but surprisingly bing brought up an interesting article about a study I had not seen yet:

All mainstream stuff imho

I do not say whether I am pro or con vaccines or anything, just relaying the information :)
thx. nice to know this managed to slip thru the machine. now back to the talking points -- "vaccines are really really safe and the best protection for the heard."