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Monday, April 09, 2012

The intrinsic unreliability of science

Further evidence that science can only be trusted at the point it becomes engineering:
A former researcher at Amgen Inc has found that many basic studies on cancer -- a high proportion of them from university labs -- are unreliable, with grim consequences for producing new medicines in the future.

During a decade as head of global cancer research at Amgen, C. Glenn Begley identified 53 "landmark" publications -- papers in top journals, from reputable labs -- for his team to reproduce. Begley sought to double-check the findings before trying to build on them for drug development.

Result: 47 of the 53 could not be replicated. He described his findings in a commentary piece published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Fascinating. That's an 88.6 percent unreliability rate for landmark, gold-standard science. Imagine how bad it is in the stuff that is only peer-reviewed and isn't even theoretically replicable, like evolutionary biology. Keep that figure in mind the next time some secularist is claiming that we should structure society around scientific technocracy; they are arguing for the foundation of society upon something that has a reliability rate of 11 percent.

Now, I've noted previously that atheists often attempt to compare ideal science with real theology and noted that in a fair comparison, ideal theology trumps ideal science. But as we gather more evidence about the true reliability of science, it is becoming increasingly obvious that real theology also trumps real science. The selling point of science is supposed to be its replicability... so what is the value of science that cannot be repeated?

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74 Comments:

Anonymous dh April 09, 2012 3:54 PM  

> That's a 93 percent unreliability rate for landmark, gold-standard science.

So scary. What scientists self-select as the gold-standard is what is so scary.

There probably are much better works out there, by obscure scientists without the prestige or big names associated, and they get no follow-up.

Anonymous vryedenker April 09, 2012 3:57 PM  

This is hilarious.

Blogger RobertT April 09, 2012 3:57 PM  

This is a stat I will never forget and will use over and over again.

Blogger Spacebunny April 09, 2012 4:02 PM  

It SELF CORRECTING!!!!!!



Had to be said, thought I might as well get it out of the way

Anonymous Wendy April 09, 2012 4:04 PM  

So can all those pink ribbon people get their donations back?

Worst part is it doesn't get any better as the article progresses.

Anonymous Gen. Kong April 09, 2012 4:16 PM  

This sort of reminds me of a remark made by the General's brother when discussing the medical establishment recently. He asked: Notice how there aren't actual cures for anything anymore? Now it's all about managing the disease, with unending series of payments for drugs, doctors, hospitals, etc.? I remarked that the stench had a certain familiar "bouquet" to it. Banksta-run medicine! It works just like Banksta-run government.

Anonymous jSinSaTx April 09, 2012 4:17 PM  

You have some in the comments for that article saying that this shows the need for more funding. Others saying you can't expect to be able to replicate these results. Amusing.

Blogger Eric Mueller April 09, 2012 4:17 PM  

As soon as I saw that failure rate connected to the words "science" and "cancer", I thought of the millions of miles and billions of dollars gone through looking for a "cure".

I'm amazed at how much "science" that affects our lives today are based on nothing more than untested theories.

Blogger Zimri April 09, 2012 4:18 PM  

Theology is at base a branch of mathematics, so yes, when done right it will beat science ALL THE TIME.

Anonymous RedJack April 09, 2012 4:21 PM  

That is because of a few reasons.
1. To expense to replicate the experiments.
2. No one really wants to prove the results wrong. Big risk in getting excommunicated out of the field.
3. The results don't really matter to the narrative.

Anonymous Daniel April 09, 2012 4:21 PM  

Science that "self" corrects itself, after a decade, to such pathetic repeatability (and even less success) indicates that the science's Seven Per Cent Solution is an even greater bastardization than the novel of the same name.

Anonymous Anonymous April 09, 2012 4:26 PM  

[quote]Theology is at base a branch of mathematics, so yes, when done right it will beat science ALL THE TIME.[/quote]

Can you please explain this to me Zimri?

-Sweet sweet Victory

Anonymous rho April 09, 2012 4:49 PM  

Science is a process. A process is not philosophy. Confusing the two is a mistake.

Worse, science-as-a-process has become a business. This isn't astonishing, as science is pattern-matching, and the pattern that scientists match is to latch on to the available funding.

(Insert rant on public financing of science here, with all caveats associated with public financing.)

The joy here is that the scientific process has attempted self-correction; the tragedy here is that it will be largely ignored. For scientific reasons.

Blogger JartStar April 09, 2012 4:50 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger JartStar April 09, 2012 4:52 PM  

Some authors required the Amgen scientists sign a confidentiality agreement barring them from disclosing data at odds with the original findings. "The world will never know" which 47 studies -- many of them highly cited -- are apparently wrong, Begley said.

Apparently scientists are waging a war on truth.

Blogger JartStar April 09, 2012 4:58 PM  

"We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure," said Begley. "I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they'd done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It's very disillusioning."

Such selective publication is just one reason the scientific literature is peppered with incorrect results.


It's not lying, it's selective truth.

Blogger Rich Hughes April 09, 2012 5:03 PM  

"real theology"?

Anonymous WinstonWebb April 09, 2012 5:13 PM  

Rich Hughes April 09, 2012 5:03 PM

"real theology"?


I assume "real" in this sense means "as it is actually practiced".

Anonymous VD April 09, 2012 5:14 PM  

"real theology"?

Theology as it is observed in the real world. As opposed to theology operating perfectly as it is ideally conceived.

Blogger Rich Hughes April 09, 2012 5:18 PM  

Forgive me, I'm still a bit confused. Do you mean how religious people act, predictions made by religious texts, doctrines held by religious institutions, something else?

Thanks in advance for clarifying.

Anonymous Noah B. April 09, 2012 5:25 PM  

I've lost several loved ones to cancer, but on the bright side, it did take out Ted Kennedy.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) April 09, 2012 5:29 PM  

The reason this happened is because of dark science.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 5:29 PM  

what is the value of science that cannot be repeated?

If it is not replicated then is it science?

Blogger Berend de Boer April 09, 2012 5:33 PM  

Even more from this article: "On Tuesday, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences heard testimony that the number of scientific papers that had to be retracted increased more than tenfold over the last decade; the number of journal articles published rose only 44 percent."

Anonymous DrTorch April 09, 2012 5:34 PM  

White collar welfare. The gov't has to provide jobs to all the people it promised would be "creating the future"...otherwise it couldn't lure more people into the profession. Besides, these people have student loans to pay.

Blogger Nikis-Knight April 09, 2012 5:36 PM  

"What is the value of science that cannot be repeated?

If it is not replicated then is it science?"

Will that be the defense? When we do it right, that's science, and when we do it wrong, that isn't? Sounds like a science of the gaps argument.

Anonymous Noah B. April 09, 2012 5:37 PM  

You've nailed it, Torch.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 5:44 PM  

What is the value of science that cannot be repeated?

If it is not replicated then is it science?

Will that be the defense?


More an observation. Furthermore Mr. Begley attempting to replicate these studies and announcing that he cannot is science yes?

Anonymous Stickwick April 09, 2012 5:48 PM  

Nikis-Knight: Will that be the defense? When we do it right, that's science, and when we do it wrong, that isn't? Sounds like a science of the gaps argument.

No, it sounds like a No True Scotsman argument.

I prefer to think of it this way. When it's done right, it's science. When it's done wrong, it's Science™.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 5:51 PM  

No, it sounds like a No True Scotsman argument.

If it is not replicated then is it science?

Anonymous Noah B. April 09, 2012 5:58 PM  

"If it is not replicated then is it science?"

It's a valid point. Presumably, most of the studies that could not be repeated were performed sloppily or fraudulently. This is not so much a failure of the scientific method (which I fully realize that Vox is not criticizing) as it is a failure to ascertain the motives of those proclaiming to perform science, therefore, a failure of the institution of Science.

We can only hope to trust that the scientific method has been diligently carried out in those instances in which a scientist has no motive other than arriving at a correct conclusion. Such trust can far more frequently be found in private settings rather than public ones.

Anonymous dh April 09, 2012 6:04 PM  

General Kong:
He asked: Notice how there aren't actual cures for anything anymore?

Two family members who are medical doctors are both convinced that medicine has not actually progressed very much in the last 60 years. Statistically, it appears that things like cancer treatments are better, but largely because things like the "5-year survival" rate statistic, and other sort of gimmicky statistics. The other gains are largely the product of prevention, selective abortions, and other non-treatment related gains.

Both are convinced that if we practices medicine the same relatively cheap way we did 60 years ago, and put the resulting 8-9% of GDP back into the economy as improved income, we'd all be better off.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 6:06 PM  

We can only hope to trust that the scientific method has been diligently carried out in those instances in which a scientist has no motive other than arriving at a correct conclusion. Such trust can far more frequently be found in private settings rather than public ones.

I must profoundly disagree. In the article we read ...

The academic reward system discourages efforts to ensure a finding was not a fluke. Nor is there an incentive to verify someone else's discovery. As recently as the late 1990s, most potential cancer-drug targets were backed by 100 to 200 publications. Now each may have fewer than half a dozen.

"If you can write it up and get it published you're not even thinking of reproducibility," said Ken Kaitin, director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. "You make an observation and move on. There is no incentive to find out it was wrong."


Changing the reward system from academic to private profit would not seem to add any incentive to determine incorrect conclusions. In fact it would seem to add extra incentives against any such determination.

Hope in another man's diligent integrity seems the only option.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 6:17 PM  

So. Should the title of this blog post be "The intrinsic unreliability of science" or "The intrinsic unreliability of people"?

Anonymous Noah B. April 09, 2012 6:22 PM  

civil, it would seem to me that your citation strongly supports my assertion rather than contradicts it. I'll leave that decision to the Ilk.

Furthermore, Hope has never been a viable strategy for accomplishing anything. I have no reason to expect that the future will be any different in this regard.

In the world of academics, the objective is to publish. In the world of government, the objective is to avoid blame. In the private sector, the objective is to make money. To the extent that private sector profits stem from the free market, the private sector is the most democratic setting of all. Billions of people decide which products and services are most needed, and while the results are often far from perfect (i.e., Apple's entire product line), those results tend to be far better than what comes of the festering rot in government and academia. If a company pours its resources into faulty research to a greater extent than its competitors, it tends to lose ground to those competitors, and if the trend continues, that company will cease to exist.

Anonymous Noah B. April 09, 2012 6:24 PM  

Excuse me - should have been an e.g. instead of i.e.

Anonymous dh April 09, 2012 7:01 PM  

> Changing the reward system from academic to private profit would not seem to add any incentive to
> determine incorrect conclusions. In fact it would seem to add extra incentives against any such
> determination.

In US medicine, unfortunately, anything with a marginal benefit or an illusory benefit can become part of the "standard" protocol with very little consideration of the net pros and cons. From then out it's a box that gets checked and all such boxes that are to be checked cost money.

Most other countries don't put up with this crap. They want actual evidence that the proposed regime works. And if it works, but not much better than something much less expensive, it's not offered.

Healthcare is one place where rational people lose their mind. It's hard to tell someone to make better market decision when it's a serious health decision. It's not always practical.

Anonymous dh April 09, 2012 7:02 PM  

Noah--
> that company will cease to exist.

I don't find that to be true in all industries. There is, in my view, a point where a companies products become so entrenched that the company is self-sustained. Maybe over a long-enough time scale this is true, but in the normal sense of the phrase (years and decades), it's not practically true.

Anonymous jb April 09, 2012 7:22 PM  

As one who fusses with Greek regularly, by profession, and one who avoids doctors studiously unless I need something diseased cut out, or a hernia stitched, minimal science required in either case . . .

I find this φάρμακον = poison extremely humorous, and yet, sad.

How medicine got where it is sans science google Morris Fishbein. And go fishing in deeper waters than Wikipedia.

Anonymous Anonymous April 09, 2012 7:26 PM  

Science as an institution is now indistinguishable from any other religious institution.

Anonymous civilServant April 09, 2012 7:47 PM  

In the world of academics, the objective is to publish. In the world of government, the objective is to avoid blame. In the private sector, the objective is to make money. To the extent that private sector profits stem from the free market, the private sector is the most democratic setting of all.

For many people everywhere the objective is to accumulate power and money and to crush everything that threatens it. These people accumulate in any power center. In a developed private sector monopolies form and form alliances to destroy all potential opposition by all means available and any means necessary. In a republic there are rules for peaceful regulation and exchange of government power but in a private sector there are none whatsoever except death. And inheritance cheats even that.

A privately owned research institution dedicated to profit will cut costs whereever possible including research in toto if such an act contributes to the bottom line. If faulty research or false research or no research at all will net them more than proper research then proper research will be jettisoned immediately along with anyone who objects. They do it now. What Mr. Begley found with his scientific research is not unique to scientists or government or academics. It is everywhere.

Anonymous zen0 April 09, 2012 8:55 PM  

In a republic there are rules for peaceful regulation and exchange of government power but in a private sector there are none whatsoever except death. And inheritance cheats even that.
Civil Servant.

Do you know of any currently functional Republics that could be an example?

Anonymous MendoScot April 09, 2012 10:02 PM  

Publish or perish. Such a wonderful concept. Created by accountants, if memory serves, not scientists.

I now outright disbelieve about a third of what I read in the peer-reviewed literature. And be careful Vox, the high profile literature is a rats nest of self promotion, not a gold standard of quality.

The inability to reproduce results is a constant headache, but does prove that the results were wrong.

Anonymous Mountain Man April 09, 2012 10:30 PM  

Amgen? "Careful. This suit cost more than your education."

Anonymous RedJack April 09, 2012 11:17 PM  

There have been some advances. My dad had brain surgery that just wasn't possible ten years ago. We didn't have the equipment. But the actual procedere was done by a young guy who still believed he was unstoppable. The older docs wouldn't touch my father, because the risks were so great.

But when you look at research, there is precious little going on. In my industry, the standard text on the subject is little changed from the 80's. The reason is that research is expensive, and if you guess wrong it still costs to much.

Anonymous Roundtine April 10, 2012 12:43 AM  

"A privately owned research institution dedicated to profit will cut costs whereever possible including research in toto if such an act contributes to the bottom line."

If you own your home, do you burn your furniture during the winter because it contributes to the bottom line? Humans are lazy and greedy, always looking for shortcuts, but to behave in the manner you describe and still have an ongoing concern decades later requires some type of government(like) intervention. Operating in a traditional Anglo-Saxon legal and cultural environment, a company that behaved that way would eventually be destroyed. There are actually many examples, including the NYTimes (yay!) where a founders' heirs start demanding higher dividend payments and pull capital out of the business. The Chinese even have a saying for this: wealth does not pass three generations.

Anonymous Papapete April 10, 2012 1:21 AM  

Medicine has advanced significantly in the last sixty years. Coronary bypass was still experimental. If you had chest pain you were given nitroglycerine tablets and usually died within two years. Now almost no-one even gets a CABG. It's all balloon angioplasty. If you had migraines, you just suffered for days and took narcotics. Now, one puff of Imitrex and relief comes in minutes. If you had allergies, you sneezed and sniffled through it. Now antihistimines don't even have to make you drowsy. Diabetics had horse serum insulin - period. That meant a much lower life expectancy and chronic problems including almost certain impotence for men at a young age and probable amputations. Now with electronic glucometers and a whole battery of drugs many diabetics don't even need insulin, and even those who do can usually control their diabetes and live normal lives (this of course is dependent on actually following the doctor's orders). Asthma sufferere can control not only their symptoms but can frequently prevent the damage to the lungs that was almost universal sixty years ago.

I could go on (and on and on...) but you get the picture. When my wife was in medical school twenty years ago she was told that eighty percent of what she was learning would be outmoded in five years. I've never actually done the research to know if it was true, but I wouldn't be surprised. There is a reason life expectancy is going up even though lifestyles are more unhealthy than ever.

Blogger Spacebunny April 10, 2012 1:33 AM  

My dad had brain surgery that just wasn't possible ten years ago. We didn't have the equipment

This is an advance in technology - not science - as were several of PapaPete's examples.

Anonymous Anonymous April 10, 2012 4:22 AM  

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html

A little off topic, but Vox Needs to read this feminist kick and fight natural born fleshly nature with unnatural but no less fleshly nature.

Anonymous Paul April 10, 2012 5:05 AM  

That fascist government funded science is done poorly is no surprise.

Even so, that 11 percent of medical research scientists come up with reproducible results is infinitely superior to the precisely zero percent reproducibility of theology of any variant.

Anonymous JT April 10, 2012 5:43 AM  

Someone called Ashley Judd a heifer and now she doesn't have the rational capability to discover that her "cure", that being Femenism, is the main source of her aforementioned "hypersexualization" of women and their bodies...especially by other women...since these increasing numbers of women are now competing more vigorously over fewer men their natural minds find desirable...

In other news, dog bites man.

Anonymous JT April 10, 2012 5:46 AM  

Sorry--OT, but, it still somewhat not, social science is ...kinda...science?

Anonymous Bobo April 10, 2012 8:49 AM  

Papapete, that 80% figure is false, it's a fairy tale told to students. I'd say about 0.5% of the knowledge changes every 5 years - that's verified, practical knowledge - not speculation. There's a lot of specualation in medicine though and most of it turns out to be a let down.

Blogger Professor Hale April 10, 2012 9:24 AM  

...that's verified, practical knowledge - not speculation.

so that cuts pretty much everything from NASA out. All those Earth-like planets that they have "proved" are out there being just one example.

Also, It is possible that Amgen was unable to replicate any of the experiments because they hired really bad lab techs due to their own programs to increase women in STEM and affirmative action.

Anonymous Beau April 10, 2012 10:49 AM  

Even so, that 11 percent of medical research scientists come up with reproducible results is infinitely superior to the precisely zero percent reproducibility of theology of any variant.

I call bullshit.

Only one example is necessary to prove Paul a fool; give me a hopeless drug addict and admit him or her to a Salvation Army adult rehabilitation center. I know hundreds who have graduated and are now solid citizens.

Paul is an ignorant bigot.

Anonymous RedJack April 10, 2012 11:21 AM  

Spacebunny, you are right. The main advance was in imaging, so the doctor could actualy see what he was doing.

That and he tried the surgery. Less than 10 doctors in the world would have.

Anonymous Noah B. April 10, 2012 11:26 AM  

@civilServant

"A privately owned research institution dedicated to profit will cut costs whereever possible including research in toto if such an act contributes to the bottom line."

Of course it will - that's the point. The motive for most private institutions is to produce useful results, and if a particular line of research can't be expected bear fruit, then most likely, that research simply will not be conducted. So, the private sector can be expected to perform research into things like new lithography processes or chiral separation techniques, but most likely will avoid studying the sleeping habits of gay chimpanzees.

If you continue to believe that the private sector cannot develop new technology without the assistance of government, I would suggest that you study technological development from the commencement of the 19th century through the 1930's. Government sponsored research was virtually nonexistent, and the vast majority of research and development was conducted privately.

Anonymous civilServant April 10, 2012 11:29 AM  

a company that behaved that way would eventually be destroyed.

Just as all politics is local all profit is local. If a company's operators can make more money for themselves by consuming a company rather than by operating it they will do so and ride happily into the sunset with their retirement funds leaving destruction in their wake. Look up Mervyn's.

Anonymous civilServant April 10, 2012 11:34 AM  

I would suggest that you study technological development from the commencement of the 19th century through the 1930's. Government sponsored research was virtually nonexistent, and the vast majority of research and development was conducted privately.

I believe that time period is when consumer protection laws first gained momentum.

Anonymous Noah B. April 10, 2012 12:10 PM  

"I believe that time period is when consumer protection laws first gained momentum."

(Consumer protection laws) != (Gov. funded research)

Fail.

Anonymous Noah B. April 10, 2012 12:20 PM  

"Just as all politics is local all profit is local. If a company's operators can make more money for themselves by consuming a company rather than by operating it they will do so and ride happily into the sunset with their retirement funds leaving destruction in their wake. Look up Mervyn's."

True but totally beside the point. When such a company ceases to be competitive, for whatever reason, entrepreneurs are ready to take its place.

Anonymous WaterBoy April 10, 2012 1:31 PM  

Beau said:"give me a hopeless drug addict and admit him or her to a Salvation Army adult rehabilitation center. I know hundreds who have graduated and are now solid citizens.

That's applied theology. Paul obviously meant theoretical theology.

/irony

Anonymous bw April 10, 2012 1:54 PM  

The cancer business-for-profit, sold as a moral religion. Hurt and Rescue. Perfect.
It is truly amazing how the control of information works with regard to the masses. There are so many cracks in the damn that appear that could bust it wide open, yet do not.
Edward T Haslem has told an interesting Cancer story.
Dr. Mary's Monkey.
There needn't be any "true science" to solve it when they likely already know who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Everytime Drew Brees sits for presser after home game, there is a giant hint posted for all to see right behind him. Hurt and Rescue.

Anonymous Anonymous April 11, 2012 1:56 AM  

Hard to judge all of science on this example, which isn't even a broad cross section of a subset of a discipline.
I'd imagine the more complex the experiments, the more unwieldy the results.
For example, physics experiments the national ignition facility at llnl are notoriously unreliable. It's not that there's any junk science involved, it's just that the experiments necessarily aren't controllable in a lot of ways. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of other disciplines had even lower rates of reproducibility, simply because the experimental apparatus'/environments are so difficult to control.
However, the science should illuminate some principles or concepts that can be applied successfully elsewhere to validate a theory, even if the experiment itself might be extremely difficult to reproduce correctly.
I don't know how this applies to medical sciences, but if it's anywhere nearly as removed from the layman's concept of 'scientific reproducibility' as a lot of other sciences, then it wouldn't be problematic.
Of course, this all flows into the issue of how completely different scientific standards and corporate standards, and public policy standards are. For example, it's perfectly publishable to have the best working theory for a new phenomenon, even if it's got a likelihood of being 'correct' of 1%. That's fine for science, because it's "the possible existing knowledge".

Blogger Peter Vogel April 11, 2012 9:56 AM  

Yes and 86% of your plasma TVs don't work. And 86% of the country's moon missions fail. Wait, no that's not true! In fact all the results of science that you use every day work every day, day after day. Perhaps generalizing from this one study to "science everywhere" is just wishful thinking?

But wait: it was theology that discovered these problems. Wait, no that's not true either! It was the ongoing process of science that uncovered these issues.

So which would you rather have: a system that never discovers its errors and, as a result, never gets better; or a system that constantly and obsessively does look for errors and, over time, gets better and better? That advances you from seeing the world as the unique centre of five enclosing crystal spheres or as one planet in a vast and glorious universe?

And, by the way, referring to the comment about evolution: Don't confuse testability with the ability of a claim to be proven false. The essence of any good theory is "what evidence would prove it false?" All sorts of theories can be proven false without having to run a laboratory test--laboratory tests are just one way of gathering evidence. You can prove a hypothesis wrong either by uncovering new evidence or by creating new evidence in a test. If you want creationism to be considered a science then you have to establish what evidence would prove it false...and then constantly and obsessively go out and look for that evidence.

Blogger Spacebunny April 11, 2012 10:43 AM  

In fact all the results of science that you use every day work every day, day after day

All of your examples are technology, dear.

Blogger Peter Vogel April 11, 2012 11:02 AM  

Now let me turn to this specific topic: Cancer research. Does anyone believe that the incidence of death from cancer has increased over the last 50 or 60 years? Does anyone believe that the number of years that people live after being diagnosed with cancer has decreased over the same time period (even taking into account earlier diagnosis)? Does anyone here, should they discover they have cancer, refuse to get the best medical treatment available to them because "there's only an 11% success rate"? Does any of this evidence support the claim of an 87% failure rate?

Now: To what do you want to ascribe these successes in reducing deaths from cancer/increasing lifespans after diagnosis: science or theology? Given the track record in dealing with cancer--and that you would immediately take advantage of it should you discover that you have cancer--how do you actually feel about that purported 11% success rate?

Or do you only disparage science because it disagrees with your religious beliefs--and, even then, only when it's convenient to you?

Anonymous Eduardo April 11, 2012 11:18 AM  

A religous view on cancer ????

o_O .... really ?

Anonymous Eduardo April 11, 2012 11:34 AM  

BY the way Petar!

Notice the words... Science is reliable ... WHEN it has become engineering!

You see what is being said. If it has some pragmatic/technological effect on our surroundings, the science behind it is fairly reliable.

* Although I might disagree on that *

___________________________________________________

Peter, the advances on cancer treatment, do not change the fact, if correct, that the results in major experiments were not reproduced. Of course one, including me would argue that the reproducing part is when you have made a full cycle in a scientific reasearch.

Now that does not mean that the scientific research MUST be going well since our technology ( you see medical treatment is a technioque too ;) ) is going so well. The research might be severely flawed, but the techniques, that might be decades old may still be highly reliable. So, scientific research does not necessarily dictate the pace of our technique in certain areas, mainly because there are many stages between the scientific reasearch in an scientific institution and the use of that research in the market.

Blogger Peter Vogel April 11, 2012 1:58 PM  

I'm not disputing the results of the study. What I am disputing is that this result somehow says something useful about "science."

Many here seem to be suggesting that it is possible to have advances in technology without advances in science: that, for instance, the existance of plasma TVs are independent of any scientific research. My claims about technology merely claim that it's an easy way to measure the "results" of science. In the same way that you can't measure gravity but can measure the speed that rocks fall at, it is difficult/impossible to measure "science" but it much easier to measure (or point to) its output as technology.

If the improvements in cancer "survivability" were purely the result of the application of older techniques then the "survivability" rates would have leveled off. That doesn't seem to be the case.

Nor am I suggesting that the connection between science and its results is inelastic. In fact, the current impasse in cancer treatments (hence the higher failure rate) may be because the "easy" problems have been solved and research is now focussed on "harder," more intractable problems. In which case you would expect a higher failure rate.

But, again, that says nothing about the overall reliability of science. It barely says anything useful about the state of cancer research.

Anonymous Eduardo April 11, 2012 6:58 PM  

well before science showed up there was technology. If they are simply defending that technology can exist without science, then the answer is YES. Before you choke, I understand yourpoint I really do, I recognize how science is imperative in technology today.

Peter I think you need to understand who the author of the blog is. He is a OP-ED author... This kind of controversial phrases are his must. Now that said , I agree, hey haven't read the paper nor the landmark tests, so I can hardly grasp what was being tested in that.

Of course I love to see Vox come here and put some more arguments ( he would ) but since the thread is so far from the top it will be just you and me ). SO I can say is that, yes I agree with you, but not necesssarily with your entire logic I would say.

Anonymous Andre April 12, 2012 10:39 AM  

"I'm not disputing the results of the study. What I am disputing is that this result somehow says something useful about "science."

(...)

"But, again, that says nothing about the overall reliability of science. It barely says anything useful about the state of cancer research."

What would, amirite? I mean, if all scientific papers eventually fail to be replicated, but we have better videogames at home, well, you can't credit the development of the next Xbox to theologians! Those idiots just sit around all day thinking about fairy tales!

Anonymous Martin April 23, 2012 11:27 AM  

"Imagine how bad it is in the stuff that is only peer-reviewed"

And then we have alternative medicine, which often isn't even peer-reviewed! Might as well start by throwing out all alternative medicine.

OpenID philwynk January 01, 2013 10:30 AM  

The article being quoted has been taken down from yahoo news, so the link is dead.

The same article may be found at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/28/us-science-cancer-idUSBRE82R12P20120328.

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