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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Scientistry vs scientody

The profession is structurally incentivized to fold, spindle, and neutralize the scientific method:
There's no shortage of warnings from the scientific community that science as we know it is being drastically affected by the commercial and institutional pressure to publish papers in high-profile journals – and now a new simulation shows that deteroriation actually happening.

To draw attention to the way good scientists are pressured into publishing bad science (read: sensational and surprising results), researchers in the US developed a computer model to simulate what happens when scientists compete for academic prestige and jobs.

In the model, devised by researchers at the University of California, Merced, all the simulated lab groups they put in these scenarios were honest – they didn't intentionally cheat or fudge results.

But they received greater rewards if they published 'novel' findings – as happens in the real world. They also had to expend greater effort to be rigorous in their methods – which would improve the quality of their research, but lower their academic output.

"The result: Over time, effort decreased to its minimum value, and the rate of false discoveries skyrocketed," lead researcher Paul Smaldino explains in The Conversation.

And what's more, the model suggests that the 'bad' (if you will) scientists who take shortcuts in relation to the incentives on offer will end up passing on their methods to the next generation of scientists who work in their lab, creating in effect an evolutionary conundrum that the study authors call "the natural selection of bad science".

"As long as the incentives are in place that reward publishing novel, surprising results, often and in high-visibility journals above other, more nuanced aspects of science, shoddy practices that maximise one's ability to do so will run rampant," Smaldino told Hannah Devlin at The Guardian.
This isn't even remotely a surprise. Scientists are people and people respond to economic incentives. To claim that scientists are "trained", so they won't be tempted to put a thumb on the scale is absurd; accountants are trained to do math correctly too and that doesn't seem to stop a few of them from somehow failing to make the numbers add up right from time to time.

And keep in mind this doesn't even account for the known quantity of dishonest scientists. The model was created to determine the extent of the effects the perverse incentives are expected to have on honest scientists.

I know some people think it is bizarre that I distinguish between science and science, and even give the three different aspects three funny names, but how do you expect to fix a conflict of this sort if you can't even distinguish between the two parties, let alone determine how one influences the other? Clarity in articulation is the first step in clear thinking.

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86 Comments:

Blogger Elocutioner October 11, 2016 11:40 AM  

"It's absurd to think that global warming is fraud science since it would require a worldwide conspiracy of scientists to pull it off!"

Never underestimate the rationalization of self-interest from over-educated midwits.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan October 11, 2016 11:46 AM  

How dare this upstart VD challenge and outright denigrate the authority of the scientific community?

Don't you people realize how dangerous this is to the established order? The shame, the shame.

Blogger buwaya puti October 11, 2016 11:46 AM  

The process above does not apply in certain fields, such as climate, though not only there, as it would require "surprising" findings that buck the consensus.
We know of course that such findings are not welcome there.
So there is more than one corrupt process at work. Which is to be expected in any human activity.

Blogger buwaya puti October 11, 2016 11:46 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Escoffier October 11, 2016 11:48 AM  

I remember the first time I finished Taubes Good Calories Bad Calories, which is a brutal takedown of the shoddy state of nutritional science since WWII. And he does a thorough job of detailing the gross fraud and incompetence therein.

And somehow at the end says that the same amoral guys who have caused all this ruckus have to fix the problems they created. Uh, ok Gary, fantasy much?

The problem that really has to be fixed is the money problem. I.E. there were billions of dollars to be made falsifying the research on Statins so the research on Statins was falsified. How do you fix that? it was just to much money and obviously too tempting.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 11, 2016 11:51 AM  

The first step to right thinking is calling things by their right names. Same sentiment, stated differently, and the reason Orwell's Nineteen Eight-Four is a one-stop-shop for Political Science, all 100-499 levels. Newspeak is a great term for sophistry.

Perverse incentives from professional advancement is one problem, the other is funding source. Most of scientific research is now paid for by the political system. Anyone who thinks this doesn't affect WHAT is studied and WHAT results are reported is profoundly ignorant.

Peter Duesberg's experience is emblematic.

WRT industry, imagine for one moment you're a Project Manager for a major pharma company with your sights set on the E-suite, still four or five levels above your position and in rarefied air indeed where people have ten million dollar-plus severance packages. Any misstep and a dozen competitors will leave you eating their shoe soles in the kiss-up, kick-down jungle.

The firm has literally a BILLION dollars invested in the new product you're shepherding, a new molecular entity in its clinical silo. The executive director of North American Operations recently mentioned your product's importance to the firm's "Plan 2020," what shareholders are being told will make up for looming losses of patent protection for the firm's current blockbuster drugs.

What happens if a few niggling concerns start cropping up in Phase 3 clinical trials? A few patients' liver function tests rose above normal ranges.

Do you:
1. Inform your superiors that the development has to be slowed down while this is investigated?
2. Shrug your shoulders and remind yourself that this is common, just a coincidence, and that it's all Good To Go?

We know what will be chosen, whether by the individual or a committee of them. This is how drug after drug makes it onto the market, only to be pulled once a million or two people are given it and it turns out that one in 10,000 experiences liver failure.

Institutionalized science is bureaucratized science...which isn't science at all.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan October 11, 2016 11:55 AM  

The nutrition angle is a glaring weak spot of the establishment, just pure awful.

Practical example the fat SJW slobs who "fucking love science" and carbohydrates.

OpenID basementhomebrewer October 11, 2016 11:55 AM  

buwaya puti wrote:The process above does not apply in certain fields, such as climate, though not only there, as it would require "surprising" findings that buck the consensus.

We know of course that such findings are not welcome there.

So there is more than one corrupt process at work. Which is to be expected in any human activity.


The underlying theory absolutely applies. The difference in climate science that the economic incentive is to have findings that support the narrative. It is still based on what is economically incentivized.

Blogger S1AL October 11, 2016 11:55 AM  

--"The process above does not apply in certain fields, such as climate, though not only there, as it would require "surprising" findings that buck the consensus."--

That's a subset problem:

(1) "Global Warming" is sensational, and still new enough to be "surprising".

(2) Contradictory findings can't get published, negating the incentive

(3) This simulation doesn't address this issue, but science has its dogma. Deviating from dogma is always dangerous.

Anonymous CC October 11, 2016 11:57 AM  

I saw this somewhere else with the headline: MOST SCIENTIFIC STUDIES BULLSHIT RESEARCH FINDS

Blogger Mr. Naron October 11, 2016 11:59 AM  

TV has confidence in the integrity of science...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v171/cnaron/image_zpshrhfu4f9.jpeg

Blogger J Van Stry October 11, 2016 12:00 PM  

Back around 1980 I was given a book 'Betrayers of the Truth' which talked about all the fraud THEN going on in the science community. It read almost like a handbook telling you just how to do it, and how easy it was to get away with it.
Science fraud is nothing new. That people are no longer willing to realize how common it is, well, that's new.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 11, 2016 12:01 PM  

@5, Our times are saturated with delusion, none larger than the notion that because we're practically drowning in "information" we are knowledgeable and wise.

Hayek referred to it as the pretense of knowledge:
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/1974/hayek-lecture.html

His error was in narrowing the criticism to economics. When an error is so large, so pervasive and so undermines the very foundations of society, if not civilization, it's simply too horrible to confront it head on.

One of my favorite sayings is, "It's not what we don't know that's the problem; it's what we think we know that just ain't so."

From "Climate Change" to cosmology, nutrition, medicine economics, social "sciences" and everything in between, the volume of what we think we know that just ain't so frankly dwarfs our actual, accurate knowledge today.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 11, 2016 12:06 PM  

FTR, the West is reverting to East Asian structures where it is culturally forbidden to overturn prior dogma (dishonors the ancestors), so science is eliminated in favor of technology.

This is why China could have civilization and technology for thousands of years yet very little changed from century to century. It's a very static system.

Anonymous Bellator Mortalis October 11, 2016 12:12 PM  

A huge weakness in current science is that negative results are not rewarded by publication. It is also the case that attempting to replicate reported scientific findings is not rewarded.

Blogger pyrrhus October 11, 2016 12:12 PM  

This isn't even remotely a surprise. Scientists are people and people respond to economic incentives. To claim that scientists are "trained", so they won't be tempted to put a thumb on the scale is absurd; accountants are trained to do math correctly too and that doesn't seem to stop a few of them from somehow failing to make the numbers add up right from time to time.

Indeed. Why anyone would need a model to figure this out is beyond me.There is absolutely no return these days for diligent, careful research.You won't get tenure, and you won't make even half decent money...And guess who was one of the earliest proponents of this garbage--Carl Sagan, who published his "Nuclear Winter" theory in Parade Magazine.

Blogger Chris Mallory October 11, 2016 12:13 PM  

OT The Supremes will decide if jury deliberations must remain secret. To hell with centuries of English and American tradition, "Bad Think" must not be allowed!



http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/scotus-hear-case-involving-racial-bias-jury-room-n664006
"Does what happens in the jury room stay in the jury room?

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up that question Tuesday in the case of a Hispanic man from Colorado who was convicted after a juror said during deliberations, "I think he did it because he's Mexican."

The court must decide whether guaranteeing a fair trial requires allowing exceptions to centuries-old rules that keep jury deliberations secret."

Anonymous Trimegistus October 11, 2016 12:17 PM  

This is the result of massive federal funding for research. Every university has become a research-paper factory.

Eisenhower spotted this looming problem half a century ago, but nobody listened:

"Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Anonymous DissidentRight October 11, 2016 12:19 PM  

I gave up thinking Vox is bizarre a while ago. Superior intellect = magic, and all that.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable October 11, 2016 12:25 PM  

"It's absurd to think that global warming is fraud science since it would require a worldwide conspiracy of scientists to pull it off!"

A conspiracy, sure, but not a worldwide conspiracy. A small cabal would do just fine, provided you have:

1. Large financial and career incentives for scientists who get on board.
2. Painful disincentives in place for scientists who dissent.
3. A compliant and actively helpful media spreading disinformation.
4. A gullible public with a surfeit of white liberal guilt.

Hmm. I believe we have all four ...

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 October 11, 2016 12:30 PM  

To relate:

It's kind of like when you use a console command to kill off an enemy who is unbeatable. Sure you're cheating, but you're also trying and the game isn't being fair.

Of course, nobody gets tax dollars to play video games.

Yet.

Blogger Lobo Util October 11, 2016 12:37 PM  

Mathematics has its problems too. Though you can see all the data and calculations in a paper, it isn't pure science.

Mathematicians carefully watch where funding is going.

The government pays for most research that is made public.

The NSA has its own internal publications that are above Top Secret classification.

A lot of research is done, but kept private. That is done by Wall Street firms for trading.

There are high visibility projects that will get you noticed if you can publish something. And there is no incentive to publish a paper about something you were looking into that didn't work out.

Mathematics may not have bad data problems, but it still isn't the pure science advertised.

Blogger Whisker biscuit October 11, 2016 12:38 PM  

I got a buddy who is a big time biologist and researcher at the University of Kentucky. We hang out sometimes and knock back a few for old times sake.

He always says the crap they say to the public and the crap they say to each other is totally different----especially in the fields of evolution. "We can't truly explain it because there really is no explanation; but you can't say that in public. You'll lose it all: funding, status, and tenure. Just tow the line and collect the big paychecks."

Anonymous Helton Strom October 11, 2016 12:39 PM  

The problem boils do to: how do you change the incentive structure (money and accolades) in such a way that it properly incentivizes valid results (whether novel or expected, confirming or invalidating previous results) and strongly dis-incentivizes unjustified results?

Align incentives with goals, and good results will follow. Things like: if you create a new drug, and it ends of killing people, then the scientists and CEO/board of the company that approved it are administered the drug, and they must pay back the money to investors.... or something like that.

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 11, 2016 12:41 PM  

Compare the amount of Industrial/Commercial research funding vs Government research funding in several areas of biology, chemistry, and physics. Government has a much larger slice of the funding pie than even 50 years ago. That makes research proposals under an umbrella grant highly susceptible to political tinkering and outright fraud on the part of the funder when reviewing previous data and results to support the researcher.

Researchers won't buck the trend in many cases, as they would thereby cut their funding streams and jeopardize their shot at tenure and a position at a college/university.

Another facet is that older ideas in science don't get questioned or sacked until the lead proponents retire and step away from the field or die. That's a 40-year or more lag in the advancement of science in a crooked system.

And we haven't even hit the peer review issue yet.

Anonymous Darth Dharmakīrti October 11, 2016 12:44 PM  

The problem that really has to be fixed is the money problem. I.E. there were billions of dollars to be made falsifying the research on Statins so the research on Statins was falsified. How do you fix that? it was just to much money and obviously too tempting.

(Relatively) simple. For most of the past 400 years or so that there has existed a method of inquiry we could call "scientific," the people we could call "scientists" were either aristocrats or supported by the patronage of aristocrats. Profit motive didn't really enter into the equation, since these people were isolated from markets or the need to produce a viable product.

At the heart of a lot of these problems is the shift in the income source of scientists from family money to university payrolls and industry grants. Once "scientist" became a credentialed profession like lawyer or doctor, this shift was inevitable.

Blogger David-2 October 11, 2016 12:48 PM  

There's an additional issue which plays into this - Feynmann recognized it.

Statistics can be tricky - certain theorems (thus statistical procedures) are only true if certain preconditions apply. Experimental design can be tricky - you might not be measuring what you think you're measuring. Scientists in many fields do not have the knowledge to properly design experiments and evaluate the results - but don't know it (possibly, they know but don't care, but I don't think you have to go that far).

Thus, there are many opportunities for scientists to use flawed experiment design and flawed statistical procedures to produce sensational and surprising results without even knowing that anything's wrong.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan October 11, 2016 12:49 PM  

Speaking of stats has any polling come out that could be deemed reliable?

Blogger Robert Coble October 11, 2016 12:51 PM  

Tax dollars for PLAYING video games?

Maybe this is as close as it gets (so far):

Your tax dollars at play: Defending federal funding for games

Since EBT cards are ubiquitous, perhaps there will be an "free" (as in "paid for by the taxpayers") entertainment card, so that everyone can share equally in the enjoyment of games. After all, we certainly wouldn't want just people with white privilege to be able to enjoy video games. That would be DEPLORABLE!

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 11, 2016 12:53 PM  

Mr.MantraMan wrote:Speaking of stats has any polling come out that could be deemed reliable?

Hey,bud! This the STEM aisle. Science Fiction and Fantasy are at the back of the store!

Anonymous PAC October 11, 2016 12:58 PM  

On this subject, the scientist's case for Hillary: the only way to solve America's problems is through AI and genetic engineering, and the president's role is only to keep the country functional enough until that happens.

Therefore vote for Hillary.

Oh, and Trump is the apocalyptic/millenarian candidate, apparently. Nevermind Hillary's ziowars and saber-rattling with Russia.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/09/28/ssc-endorses-clinton-johnson-or-stein/

Anonymous DissidentRight October 11, 2016 1:01 PM  

Align incentives with goals, and good results will follow. Things like: if you create a new drug, and it ends of killing people, then the scientists and CEO/board of the company that approved it are administered the drug, and they must pay back the money to investors.... or something like that.

You're thinking too hard. Simply ban all government and government-funded institutions from funding any kind of research.

That will solve 99% of the problem. Researchers face exactly the same problem that the welfare poor face. They have no incentive to improve because they didn't work for the money.

Blogger Student in Blue October 11, 2016 1:04 PM  

@26. Darth Dharmakīrti
At the heart of a lot of these problems is the shift in the income source of scientists from family money to university payrolls and industry grants.

I'm not entirely convinced that's the case. Instead of being beholden to their positions in universities, being under a patron would instead give the incentive to do whatever the patron wanted. That's not automatically a recipe for less problems, just maybe different problems.

If anything the main factor for a difference between then and now is not simply patronage, but moral fiber. Scientists back then, and a lot of the ones with significant achievements were Christian, sincerely believed that by doing mind-bogglingly boring and rigorous work that they could delve closer to the truth, and closer to what God was thinking.

Doing it out of a sincere religious belief certainly sounds more plausible than the guy you're getting a paycheck from belonging to a rich family instead of a university.

Regardless, you bring up an interesting line of discussion that might be going off-topic: What professions/fields would do better as patronage? I'd say certainly the arts, for one.

Anonymous FP October 11, 2016 1:20 PM  

"The problem that really has to be fixed is the money problem. I.E. there were billions of dollars to be made falsifying the research on Statins so the research on Statins was falsified. How do you fix that? it was just to much money and obviously too tempting."

I got into it with my newer doc (and likely former doc, so 3-4 more months to get to see a new one) on this recently. The guy is in his late 20s or 30s and acted like I had directly insulted him by disagreeing with his diagnosis. He actually used "bunk" in describing the anti-statins/cholesterol research. "Have some faith in the medical community... in your doctor's diagnosis".

Then he brought out that "well, last I checked its still a free country so you can do what you want. I won't even check your cholesterol since you won't listen to me on it."

Blogger clk October 11, 2016 1:21 PM  

Lets start by defining what a scientist is ...

Blogger Elocutioner October 11, 2016 1:25 PM  

@20

5. Gatekeepers who select their replacements.

Part of the problem (as I understand it) is they can decide who will be allowed to challenge the orthodoxy. Once they achieve a critical mass they control publishing, research, and tenure. Then their acolytes get credentialed and infiltrate other schools. Classic entryism leading to convergence. (I believe this is what happened with Freud & psychology depts. as well.)

Blogger Duke Norfolk October 11, 2016 1:29 PM  

Just one more symptom of a terribly sick and broken society. Almost everywhere we look it is manifested; and getting worse and more widespread.

People scoff at and ridicule "conspiracy theorists" and other skeptics, but knowing how corrupted our society is and how our govt lies incessantly to us, what do you expect? I know that I no longer dismiss any of these out of hand. Too many of these things have been shown to be true over the last 10-15 yrs or so.

Blogger Duke Norfolk October 11, 2016 1:36 PM  

DissidentRight wrote:That will solve 99% of the problem. Researchers face exactly the same problem that the welfare poor face. They have no incentive to improve because they didn't work for the money.

Exactly so.

"But it's too haaarrd!", they whine.

Anonymous Gecko October 11, 2016 1:37 PM  

the natural selection of bad science

I'm going to use this line relentlessly.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 11, 2016 1:42 PM  

There is no central solution to any of this problem. In every proposed solution it is those who benefit from the perversities who are tasked with producing reforms. (insert lulz track.)

Honest inquiry comes from need. We're simply too Phat, dumb and happy right now, as a species, to make that happen. Since living in deprivation today is synonymous with being stupid, not much will change. As with voting, if science stood to change anything, it would be outlawed.

Enjoy this life of ease. Maybe it lasts the rest of our lives...or maybe we're in the last inning of the Antebellum Game and the next hundred years are a reminder of what is normal for the human condition.

Blogger Jose October 11, 2016 1:47 PM  

The problem is much amplified by the highly nonlinear rewards to being an "early star" in the field: one or two hits early on will set one for life, and pretty much make one bulletproof, so there's a strong selection effect that encourages... Erm... Creative interpretation of observations.

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 1:53 PM  

Who cares about some "model?" Tall to anyone who's ever worked in real science and is honest, or just consult common sense. Obviously Official Science won't tell you about it. Same way universities will publish endlessly on corruption in the oil industry or the military, for instance, but never get around to the corruption of higher education. Unless it's to complain about outsiders, like business or the government, interfering with their precious academic freedom, that is. But never the inherent corruption of professordom.

Blogger Nick S October 11, 2016 1:57 PM  

I thought this would be a good chance to post a comment and link concerning Infogalactics' page on Against Method by Paul Feyerabend, but you're either going to need a whole bunch more bandwidth or you're possibly experiencing a DDoS attack from those oh so "tolerant" SJWs or something. I couldn't connect.

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 1:57 PM  

@1-That's not a mid-wit thing. That's the standard response to conspiracy theories, and is indulged in by wits mid, low, and high. High wits aren't required to see no conspiracy is necessary. Common sense suffices, and mid-wits have that.

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 2:02 PM  

@3-It's the same mechanism, only replace surprising results with the right results, or politically useful results. If the money goes to experiments which tell us we're all doomed and by implication only socialism can save us, suddenly every climate scientist's results say we're doomed. Whaddya know.

For business, all results make their product look good. For government, all results justify bigger government.

Blogger Casher O'Neill October 11, 2016 2:08 PM  

Vox, recommendation: easy to find short glossary of voxisms. It took me a while as a new reader to find precisely what you meant by things like "scientistry". There are enough uses without definition and adequate context that a google site search is not that helpful.

Anonymous Darth Dharmakīrti October 11, 2016 2:12 PM  

Regardless, you bring up an interesting line of discussion that might be going off-topic: What professions/fields would do better as patronage? I'd say certainly the arts, for one.

My line of thinking on this originated with thinking that the arts should go back to a patronage model (which, in fairness, we're already kind of seeing with things like Patreon and crowdfunding). From there, I noticed that basically all of the same problems apply to academic departments of Philosophy. Watching people over at e.g. Daily Nous run circles around themselves, because of the cognitive dissonance involved in never noticing that "Philosophy" makes zero sense whatsoever as a bourgeois career path, never ceases to amuse.

I think you're right that fundamentally there are character issues involved, and it's a good point that the incentives are likely to shift to the benefit of the patron. The key difference, as I see it, is that it's unlikely for patrons to see concrete or at least immediate benefits from basic, blue-sky research (which is the reason most of this kind of research gets funded by the government instead of by industry). It's hard to see why Nelson Rockefeller would want Niels Bohr to p-hack his results about electron orbitals, yes?

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 2:15 PM  

@43-Feyerabend is a nut, or pretends to be one, and his books all but useless except for a few laughs. Like all postmodernist and children looking to get out of trouble, he picks up one, little crumb of truth and tries to run around the world on it.

There are much better books on the subject. I like Bruce Charlton's "Not Even Trying."

Blogger ChickenChicken Sweep October 11, 2016 2:18 PM  

The result: Over time, effort decreased to its minimum value

Sounds like a certain political system which retains a perverse amount of appeal despite the mountains of bodies it has produced, and also perverted science through the likes of Lysenkoism and Great Leaps Forward.

It's almost like lovers of SCIENCE! forgot what the word "incentive" means. Or do they think SCIENCE! insulates them from normal human emotional states?

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 2:19 PM  

@47-Philosophy doesn't make sense as a career under any circumstances. Patronage would lead to sophistry. It must be a leisure activity, like the pastime of a gentleman farmer or monk.

Blogger Student in Blue October 11, 2016 2:19 PM  

@47. Darth Dharmakīrti
The key difference, as I see it, is that it's unlikely for patrons to see concrete or at least immediate benefits from basic, blue-sky research (which is the reason most of this kind of research gets funded by the government instead of by industry). It's hard to see why Nelson Rockefeller would want Niels Bohr to p-hack his results about electron orbitals, yes?

The problem with that thesis is that the original post is talking about "novel" research being the end result of university-sponsored and industry-sponsored scientists, not basic blue-sky research.

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 2:20 PM  

@49-I think they try their best not to think of it.

Blogger Nick S October 11, 2016 2:25 PM  

tublecane wrote:Like all postmodernist and children looking to get out of trouble, he picks up one, little crumb of truth and tries to run around the world on it.

That's what makes beating those SJWs afflicted with cultural encephalitis over the head with it so much fun. In any event, however one gets there, it's useful for those who are unfamiliar with it to have some understanding of epistemological anarchism and/or methodological pluralism when discussing this subject.

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey October 11, 2016 2:28 PM  

A classic paper on the subject, particularly relevant to biomedical research (good on the misuse of statistics/ p values):

"Why most published research findings are false"
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/#!po=0.568182

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 2:30 PM  

@53-"Epistemological anarchism," if it's even a Thing, is easy to explain in one sentence or less. You don need to invoke authorities. Unless you have in mind a squeeze play, whereby we use their side against them. But that sounds a lot like co-opting to me, and isn't usually all that useful.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus October 11, 2016 3:01 PM  

Seriously, it's time to leave science and get into philosophy, where at least it's respectable to be inconsistent in self-justification.

Blogger Nick S October 11, 2016 3:05 PM  

@55. Suit yourself. I don't care.

Blogger David Power October 11, 2016 3:09 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous VFM #6306 October 11, 2016 3:16 PM  

Casher O'Neill wrote:Vox, recommendation: easy to find short glossary of voxisms. It took me a while as a new reader to find precisely what you meant by things like "scientistry". There are enough uses without definition and adequate context that a google site search is not that helpful.

Scientistry, Scientody and Scientage Definitions

Anonymous Bob Just October 11, 2016 3:25 PM  

@6 covered this nicely

"novel finding within the accepted framework"

@7 Hillary uses Scientage in her fact-checking:

Margarine is fantastic for cardiovascular health:
Fact: See the mainstream Scientage from the 70s

Trump supported the Iraq war at one point in time, but
we'll (being Hillary and MSM) ignore all data before or after if it doesn't follow our narrative.

Blogger justaguy October 11, 2016 4:04 PM  

There is a big problem, one caused by the government funding of the vast majority of research. Of course the flood of $ moving into areas under political controlled would hurt- it has destroyed economics, climate change, toxicology, and many other areas of science. Solution-- end all government funding of science. Industry is self-correcting--- they want results that are verifiable and repeatable, the government doesn't. There would be less research, but it would be better.

Blogger tublecane October 11, 2016 4:14 PM  

@61-Separation of Science and State.

Anonymous map October 11, 2016 4:19 PM  

Conspiracy theories operate by the same mechanism as institutional bias. If you believe in institutional bias, then you believe in conspiracy theories.

Blogger Cerdic Ricing October 11, 2016 4:38 PM  

I had a teacher once that told the class that he never trusted anyone whose job it was to create solutions to problems like medicine. In his example, he proposed the simple question on cancer research, "Why would they find a cure for cancer? Look at how many people make a living off researching it. Why would you find a cure for cancer if it puts everyone out of their job?"

I immediately saw the wisdom in that situation, but over time I've come to apply that simple thought to a lot of things. I went through many classes in the college system and learned less than that simple question. He was a very wise man. He was also an old, Southern, small-town Georgian gentleman. That's probably why he actually taught me something useful in the shitfest that is the American higher education system.

It wasn't until I started reading the blog here that I really understood that this small piece of wisdom applied much further into the "science" field than I had previously imagined.

Blogger guest October 11, 2016 4:54 PM  

The pathology now going around in the guise of science of has gone from worse to incurable:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/science/objective-fact-is-sexist/

Blogger cheddarman October 11, 2016 4:57 PM  

Science swindling also happens in industry. I got fired from my last job for pointing out to my boss that we were selling 40 year old food science as the latest greatest thing to the management of the company. I am now doing some exploratory work to see if later on down the road i can start my own company.

Blogger cheddarman October 11, 2016 5:01 PM  

Science swindling also happens in industry. I got fired from my last job for pointing out to my boss that we were selling 40 year old food science as the latest greatest thing to the management of the company. I am now doing some exploratory work to see if later on down the road i can start my own company.

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 11, 2016 5:53 PM  

justaguy wrote:There is a big problem, one caused by the government funding of the vast majority of research. Of course the flood of $ moving into areas under political controlled would hurt- it has destroyed economics, climate change, toxicology, and many other areas of science. Solution-- end all government funding of science. Industry is self-correcting--- they want results that are verifiable and repeatable, the government doesn't. There would be less research, but it would be better.

While I don't disagree that this would curtail some to much of the pull of dollars to bad science, there are areas of study such as product safety and physical safety of devices/processes that have no profit center to incentivize Industry to fund them.

Government funding has a place in research, but until it is reigned in and its purposes in research better delineated, turning off the tap is probably the better direction.

Anonymous Man of the Atom October 11, 2016 5:55 PM  

tublecane wrote:@61-Separation of Science and State.

+1

Blogger Edward October 11, 2016 6:32 PM  

Well with the harder engineering sciences, maths, physics, chemistry and applications thereof you want things that are verifiable and repeatable, as you want your bridges and skyscrapers to stay up, your nuclear weapons to go off, and your cpus to function within thermal limits etc. but as you get further into the less predictable biological side you just want something that sounds really good and sells well to the investors and the public and has sufficient plausible deniability to get you off the hook if things go wrong. At that point 'science' is just another branch of public relations.

You've got to ask what's the point of the endeavour though? We're 'doing science' because, a) we want to discover 'new truths' about the natural world, b) we want to have cushy jobs, c) we want to sound clever and get to call ourselves professors of such and such, d) we want to help some business or other to develop a new product, or a more efficient process for an existing product and so make more profit, e) we want to be famous for something and win a Nobel prize, f) we want to please our parents, g) we want to 'discover' or find a cure some new ailment, perhaps both, so we can sell the cure for a profit.

How many of the above reasons are good reasons for creating all this excess paperwork? Do you think maybe we could just stop doing any new experiments at all and spend some time making sure that all the stuff we already think we know makes some kind of sense and fits together well?
Or think about how much damage the stuff we already know or think we know is doing to us? Autism, allergies, falling sperm counts, BPAs, phthalates, obesity, cancer, heart disease, nuclear fallout. A heck of a lot of man-made problems created as side-effects of the march of 'progress', profit and productivity. Just think, if we stop now we might just succeed in not driving ourselves to extinction. Nah, only kidding, now where did I get with that next funding application...

Anonymous BGKB October 11, 2016 7:04 PM  

to be pulled once a million or two people are given it and it turns out that one in 10,000 experiences liver failure.

I am pretty sure it would require a higher number than that.

West is reverting to East Asian structures where it is culturally forbidden to overturn prior dogma (dishonors the ancestors)

More like questioning the narrative was an insult to the all knowing all controlling Emperor

Tuesday in the case of a Hispanic man from Colorado who was convicted after a juror said during deliberations, "I think he did it because he's Mexican."

Of course I knew it had to involve either DUI and/or underage girls.

Of course, nobody gets tax dollars to play video games.

I believe there were some World of Warcrack studied. One was because of how a disease from a raid spread through a server when someone teleported out before a wipe.

Since EBT cards are ubiquitous, perhaps there will be an "free" (as in "paid for by the taxpayers") entertainment card

If you liked "Its free swipe yo EBT" you will love "its free shake your TITI"
http://nypost.com/2015/04/19/welfare-recipients-used-strip-club-atms-despite-new-law/

People scoff at and ridicule "conspiracy theorists" and other skeptics,

Every time there has been a big revelation it turned out the conspiracy theorists underestimated it.

Blogger dc.sunsets October 11, 2016 7:24 PM  


Every time there has been a big revelation it turned out the conspiracy theorists underestimated it.


Poison seeds of criminal conspiracies are planted during the boom phase; they emerge into the light only when people are angry and distrustful (during the ensuing bust.)

We see only the dust on the tip of an immense iceberg today.

Blogger ChickenChicken Sweep October 11, 2016 7:43 PM  

@48 Feyerabend makes some valid points, but has a terrible obsession with dissecting minutiae tangential to his point, and his footnotes are completely out of control.

As soon as I have some free time, I'll check out "Not Even Trying."

Blogger Raymus October 11, 2016 8:19 PM  

@35
Is this helpful:
https://infogalactic.com/info/Scientist

Anonymous Professor October 11, 2016 11:36 PM  

Most research should be really boring. And we (professors) should teach more and research less. Few of us are going to do much socially useful. But unlike most of you I think that lots of students need some academic guidance and enforcement beyond high school. Fewer students than go now, but still a decent percentage of youth need some college. But we don't all need to be doing research. Its just make-work.

Anonymous Mr. Rational October 12, 2016 1:41 AM  

S1AL wrote:That's a subset problem:

(1) "Global Warming" is sensational, and still new enough to be "surprising".

Oh, come on.  It's been in the news since the 1980's.  The IPCC was formed in 1988, more than a generation ago.  And the George C. Marshall Institute was specifically hired to produce anti-science about climate change, just as it had been for second-hand smoke.

Just get real already.  Antarctic coastal temperatures WENT ABOVE FREEZING last month, in the middle of its winter.  There's a problem with an obvious solution, but as long as you deny there's a problem the other half of the false dichotomy (ruinable energy will save us) will not get debunked.  You're listening to Greenpiss, not the scientists.

5343 Kinds of Deplorable wrote:A small cabal would do just fine, provided you have:

1. Large financial and career incentives for scientists who get on board.

2. Painful disincentives in place for scientists who dissent.

The fake scientists of the George C. Marshall Institute were well-rewarded.  The interests behind denial have literally a trillion-plus dollars per year of revenue at stake.

Man of the Atom wrote:Another facet is that older ideas in science don't get questioned or sacked until the lead proponents retire and step away from the field or die. That's a 40-year or more lag in the advancement of science in a crooked system.
The fraudulent science done by Hermann Muller and his colleagues to promote the "linear, no-threshold" theory of radiation damage (aka "no safe dose"), was (a) financed by oil interests (the Rockefeller Foundation), and (b) has been going strong for 60 years now though there is finally some pushback.

Why someone could believe that oil money could make fraudulent radiation science, but not fraudulent climate science, is such a mystery of cognitive dissonance that I will never understand it.

Blogger rho October 12, 2016 2:27 AM  

I know some people think it is bizarre that I distinguish between science and science, and even give the three different aspects three funny names, but how do you expect to fix a conflict of this sort if you can't even distinguish between the two parties, let alone determine how one influences the other? Clarity in articulation is the first step in clear thinking.

Step one is clarity in newly minted words?

Does it help if they are steeped in languages that the target audience doesn't natively speak?

Blogger Trid October 12, 2016 3:37 AM  

I think this issue becomes blatantly obvious to any undergrad going through the university system these days, as now the only criterion for a scholarly source is if it's got an establishment stamp of approval. Science doesn't matter, method doesn't matter, only that stamp.

Anonymous Eric the Red October 12, 2016 4:26 AM  

How did simulation get to be considered science anyway? An ability to model complex systems always produces false results after some point, because of mathematical limitations and because GIGO.

Once when I was in charge of testing a product, I argued that simulation was a poor way to go. Instead I proposed a suite of stimulus-response tests that mirrored exactly the detailed functionality of the system. My company compromised: they funded both efforts, except I got less money because they were enamored with the idea of complex modeling. BTW, my team blew away the other.

Anonymous Avalanche October 12, 2016 9:03 AM  

@63 "Conspiracy theories operate by the same mechanism as institutional bias. If you believe in institutional bias, then you believe in conspiracy theories."

That's just silly; do you think the building of the B1 bomber was done by institutional bias? How about the Manhattan Project at U Chicago and then at the Hanford Site in Washington -- oh, and building the ENTIRE Hanford Site was a conspiracy too? Thousands of workers building an entire "science city" and all the labs -- and all in secrecy?! How about 911? Was THAT institutional bias -- or a conspiracy (of 19 arabs OR a host of 'interested parties' that those parties want to keep hidden by disparaging anyone pointing at BOATloads of evidence)? How about the alleged raid on Bin Laden? And that burial at sea nonsense?

"Conspiracy theorist" is a meaningless slur meant to end discussion, just as are "racist!" and "homophobic!" and "islamophobic!"

Blogger dc.sunsets October 12, 2016 10:07 AM  

Why someone could believe that oil money could make fraudulent radiation science, but not fraudulent climate science, is such a mystery of cognitive dissonance that I will never understand it.

You've got the fraud in the wrong camp. Who do you think is best positioned to profit from the main "response" to ACC (anthropogenic climate change)? Hint: the majority shareholders of the oil oligarchies.

No cognitive dissonance necessary.

Blogger Nick S October 12, 2016 3:24 PM  

tublecane wrote:I like Bruce Charlton's "Not Even Trying."

Okay, I finished reading "Not Even Trying" and it's clear Charlton and Feyerabend are making entirely different arguments. Charlton's point is that having been bastardized, "real science is dead". Feyerabend's is that science is not now, nor has it ever been, deserving of the position as the supreme arbiter of truth and by itself is an wholly inadequate source of knowledge. I think both arguments are relevant to this discussion in different ways though.

Blogger tublecane October 12, 2016 4:08 PM  

"it's clear Charlton and Feyerabend are making entirely different arguments."

Yes, and Charlton's is the far better argument, based on personal experience of the subject.

"position as the supreme arbiter of truth"

Which position has been defended by virtually no one.

Postmodernists make their jobs easier by pretending the "knowledge claims" of everyone not devoted to Epistemological Anarchy, or whatever advertising slogan they've come up with for the position they don't actually hold, are a lot more robust then they actually are. But it also makes them frauds, and anyone with any familiarity whatsoever with the way people in the real world think of science and the scientific method know Feyerabend is going after a strawman.

Anonymous Mr. Rational October 12, 2016 4:36 PM  

dc.sunsets wrote:You've got the fraud in the wrong camp. Who do you think is best positioned to profit from the main "response" to ACC (anthropogenic climate change)? Hint: the majority shareholders of the oil oligarchies.
You're going to have to do better than "and then a miracle occurs!" for step B.

Blogger Nick S October 12, 2016 5:02 PM  

tublecane wrote:Yes, and Charlton's is the far better argument, based on personal experience of the subject.

It's not an either/or situation. They are mutually exclusive arguments that are only tangentially related. There is something wrong with you.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit October 13, 2016 3:37 AM  

Clarity in articulation is the first step in clear thinking.

Yes. Th is why the first and last and continuuing obsession the SJWs have is subverting words themselves.

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