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Friday, April 20, 2018

The 11 percent metric

Modern science is actually less reliable than flipping a coin. The Wall Street Journal reports on scientific efforts to address the reproducibility crisis:
Half the results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are probably wrong. John Ioannidis, now a professor of medicine at Stanford, made headlines with that claim in 2005. Since then, researchers have confirmed his skepticism by trying—and often failing—to reproduce many influential journal articles. Slowly, scientists are internalizing the lessons of this irreproducibility crisis. But what about government, which has been making policy for generations without confirming that the science behind it is valid?

The biggest newsmakers in the crisis have involved psychology. Consider three findings: Striking a “power pose” can improve a person’s hormone balance and increase tolerance for risk. Invoking a negative stereotype, such as by telling black test-takers that an exam measures intelligence, can measurably degrade performance. Playing a sorting game that involves quickly pairing faces (black or white) with bad and good words (“happy” or “death”) can reveal “implicit bias” and predict discrimination.

All three of these results received massive media attention, but independent researchers haven’t been able to reproduce any of them properly. It seems as if there’s no end of “scientific truths” that just aren’t so. For a 2015 article in Science, independent researchers tried to replicate 100 prominent psychology studies and succeeded with only 39% of them.

Further from the spotlight is a lot of equally flawed research that is often more consequential. In 2012 the biotechnology firm Amgen tried to reproduce 53 “landmark” studies in hematology and oncology. The company could only replicate six. Are doctors basing serious decisions about medical treatment on the rest? Consider the financial costs, too. A 2015 study estimated that American researchers spend $28 billion a year on irreproducible preclinical research.

The chief cause of irreproducibility may be that scientists, whether wittingly or not, are fishing fake statistical significance out of noisy data. If a researcher looks long enough, he can turn any fluke correlation into a seemingly positive result. But other factors compound the problem: Scientists can make arbitrary decisions about research techniques, even changing procedures partway through an experiment. They are susceptible to groupthink and aren’t as skeptical of results that fit their biases. Negative results typically go into the file drawer. Exciting new findings are a route to tenure and fame, and there’s little reward for replication studies.
It's always ironic how the IFLS crowd isn't even remotely up to speed on current science while simultaneously pointing and shrieking about how everyone with substantive and valid criticism of scientistry simply "doesn't understand science". You can see this in the comments of the most recent Voxiversity on Christianity and Western Civilization. Richard Dawkins has repeatedly argued that eyewitness testimony should not be used in the courtroom because it is insufficiently reliable, but by his own metric, the expert testimony of a scientist should barred from the courtroom as well because science is considerably less statistically reliable.

As for the idea that science can even theoretically serve as a basis for moral guidance, the grand windmill at which Sam Harris has been jousting in futility for the last 10 years, that has become even more obviously ridiculous than even his most brutal critics believed at the start. One would do nearly four times better to simply flip a coin; indeed, statistically speaking, one's optimal strategy is to listen to what scientists advise, then do precisely the opposite.

Of course, in retrospect, this should have always been obvious. Look at the average scientist. Do you think following his advice on women or doing the precise opposite is more likely to lead to a desirable outcome? Do you trust his philosophy on fitness, or on any other aspect of life? These are individuals whose entire perspectives on life, the universe, and everything are constructed on an illusion of a nonexistent solidity.

And the great irony is that scientistry now stands condemned by its beloved scientodific metric. The New Atheists reasoned that religious faith must be false on the basis of presuming the eyewitness testimony and documentary evidence to the contrary being false, but now we actually know, we do not merely reason, that it is faith in science that is false due to irreproducibility.

Labels: , ,

60 Comments:

Blogger Nathan April 20, 2018 6:06 AM  

Vox,

Came across this scholarly article the other day, arguing that the reproducibility crises has been overblown: http://www.pnas.org/content/115/11/2628

Thought persons here might want to pick it apart (haven't had the chance to read yet, but on my list).

Blogger Sherwood family April 20, 2018 6:11 AM  

The last two paragraphs...brutal...but true.

The problem with science is scientists. As long as there are humans involved, science will suffer from the same problems as any other human endeavor. The more so because scientists have tried to convince themselves, and the public, that scientists are a separate class more devoted to truth and pure knowledge than the rest of us mere mortals. They have also tried to sell the lie that "science is self-correcting". It is no more self-correcting than anything else people do. The only time things get corrected is when feet get held to the fire. Peer review was supposed to do that but has simply turned into a clearinghouse for checking "orthodoxy" in too many cases.

Blogger Akulkis April 20, 2018 6:18 AM  

If you don't know HOW you know aomsometh, you don't really know it. You merely believe it.

Blogger Wiseagle April 20, 2018 6:32 AM  

As a 28 year practicing industrial chemist I face the brutal scrutiny of the economic market place as the most real and reliable arbitor, not peer review cronyism. Reduce it to practice and I'll believe it. Get someone to buy it and then keep buying it, that's even better.

Blogger My Dead Gramps April 20, 2018 6:35 AM  

Was chatting with a physicist grad over the Taleb/Beard episode and he was shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) that Taleb was muscling in on a topic that wasn't 'his expertise.'

"It would be like me calling psychology bullshit just because I've got a better understanding of stats!" Yeah, about that, bud...

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 6:36 AM  

I wonder if anyone has done a study of the faith/world view of scientist, versus reproducibility over time.

Anonymous Anonymous April 20, 2018 6:37 AM  

I have argued for a long time that the problem with science is government funding and involvement. This leads to large teams of "investigators" willing to give those who hand out the money whatever answer they like. I believe government funding of science has corrupted the entire establishment.

Besides that, most "scientists" really don't understand statistics anyway. They barely understand that wet sidewalks don't cause the rain.

Of course, not all fields are equally converged.

Blogger Duke Norfolk April 20, 2018 6:48 AM  

I couldn't read the source article. I guess the old trick of Googling the headline and going there via that link (thus bypassing the paywall) doesn't work anymore. Oh well.

Blogger Uncle John's Band April 20, 2018 7:02 AM  

These things are always undersold, so I wonder how deep the rot really is.

Most people are functionally innumerate. "Science" is as mysterious as religion - even has priests - but this religion is "true". Anyone who can recall the difference between the presentation of science in popular media and the sloppy reality of their first school lab knows what b.s. this is. Do most students even see a lab anymore?

Blogger VD April 20, 2018 7:03 AM  

Came across this scholarly article the other day, arguing that the reproducibility crises has been overblown: http://www.pnas.org/content/115/11/2628

I just read it. It's a joke. I mean, not even anywhere close to being a meaningful response, let alone defense. It's nothing more than the usual scientistric smoke and mirrors.

Blogger VD April 20, 2018 7:05 AM  

I couldn't read the source article

Try again. I replaced the link with one to an archive.

Blogger Longtime Lurker April 20, 2018 7:06 AM  

Amgen could replicate the results in only 6 out of 53 expirements. That tells me the ratio of real scientists to fake ones is about 1:10. That's good to know.

Blogger SemiSpook37 April 20, 2018 7:12 AM  

This is why I’m an engineer. Very easy to see through a lot of the bullshit when you’ve been trained to actually apply principles you see in various patterns most modern scientists tend to ignore.

Case in point: “climate change”. No doubt that it exists on a macro level, given many of the legitimate discoveries of ancient fossil records. Does not exist in the immediate realm of today’s society as dictated by the IPCC and other political orgs because it’s clearly a political agenda aimed at amassing weath for the elites pushing said agenda.

I mean, I drive a hybrid. Not because I want to save the environment, but getting 400 miles a tank and paying $40-50/mo on gas is better for my financial bottom line. I suspect that fuel mileage might be even better, but I think major efficiency efforts have been stunted by mandatory governmental emissions and mileage standards imposed for almost 50 years.

Blogger MendoScot April 20, 2018 7:21 AM  

Sailer posted a Pinker quote from 2015 yesterday.

Made me laugh.

Irony: Replicability crisis in psych DOESN'T apply to IQ: huge n's replicable results. But people hate the message.

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 7:23 AM  

"Get someone to buy it and then keep buying it, that's even better."

I've got my own lead supply to put in my fuel and paint. No sad bide effects.

Blogger traderdoc April 20, 2018 7:24 AM  

A significant amount of this falls on visa holders - scientist immigrants trying to establish credibility.

Blogger Don't Call Me Len April 20, 2018 7:31 AM  

@1 - Early on, one of the arguments is basically "OJ looking for the real murderers": a survey of psychologists think the reproducibility crisis in psychology is overblown, probably by at least a factor of 5. Well, case closed then!

Anonymous Anonymous April 20, 2018 7:33 AM  

Methinks these holistic detectives
Are somewhat defective.
They've trounced up the stairs to find
A seat, most one-of-a-kind.

Blogger Nate April 20, 2018 7:40 AM  

Striking a power pose is BS? no way.

Blogger Paul Sacramento April 20, 2018 7:47 AM  

Science IS the scientific method, which means it MUST be:
Observable
Testable
Falsifiable
Repeatable

From Livescience:

The steps of the scientific method go something like this:

Make an observation or observations.
Ask questions about the observations and gather information.
Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis.
Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.
Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory. "Replication of methods and results is my favorite step in the scientific method," Moshe Pritsker, a former post-doctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School and CEO of JoVE, told Live Science. "The reproducibility of published experiments is the foundation of science. No reproducibility – no science."

It's just that simple.

Anything that doesn't follow that simple formula is simply NOT science.

Blogger tz April 20, 2018 8:10 AM  

I think it goes back to the "Atheist Logic" demotivator on the right panel here.

With a departure from Natural Law that rejects even Aristotle, they don't quite know what to do when they get fuzzy results except throw as many statistical methods at it until they see a blip and publish that as the result. They rarely publish the raw data which would make it plain if things were true or false or indeterminate, but they don't keep their jobs by falsifying hypotheses, much less finding the results don't say clearly either way. What the IFLS thinks is every thing is "Under these (controlled) conditions), if I do X, over 95% of the time (hopefully 100%) Y happens". Instead in reality it is "... If I do X, I get a random scatter plot of what looks like white noise, so I have to modify the test or filter things until I see what I want".

Evolution has always been a hoax house, now "Climate Change", starting with the new ice age they predicted back in the 1970's (but check Chicago and Detroit today). They don't teach epistimology.

Humor: Sam Harris' idea of morality is less reliable than the DC comic TwoFace.

It is a societal problem. No reproducability? Contraception applied to the brainchild. Get a cat and call it and treat it like a baby. But it is still fuzzy and has claws.

Blogger tz April 20, 2018 8:13 AM  

@20, one key is the hypothesis needs to be falsifiable. You can't prove a negative. You can't test historical events or things far outside our solar system, but that is lumped in with "science". While I too talked about proving something true, it is more important to be able to prove something false.

Blogger Sherwood family April 20, 2018 8:16 AM  

Which is why "scientists" opining on so many things and attempting to use science to justify their views is so much nonsense. Unless it is in a sphere that is dealing with the observable, testable, falsifiable, and repeatable their credentials and training mean squat.

This is nowhere more true than in things that empirical data cannot touch. The narrow epistemology of some of these folks is a crack up. I know one fellow who talks about how no truth exists outside of science. That's a premise that even a cursory examination can prove false. But he sticks to it nonetheless. For this acquaintance it is a religious faith of sorts with neither salvation nor happiness nor immortality promised.

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 8:23 AM  

"I know one fellow who talks about how no truth exists outside of science."

Ask him to verify the scientific method using the scientific method.

Blogger VD April 20, 2018 8:24 AM  

Ask him to verify the scientific method using the scientific method.

Poor rhetoric. That does not work.

Better to ask him how truth can possibly be determined by a method that is 89 percent false.

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 8:34 AM  

"Better to ask him how truth can possibly be determined by a method that is 89 percent false."

Like playing slot machines and winning 90 cents on the dollar.

Blogger Sherwood family April 20, 2018 8:37 AM  

He's blinded his own mind to reality so he can maintain the hold he has on the one true dogma of "SCIENCE" that he came to understand as a 14 year old boy when he realized he was smarter than the other kids and summarily dismissed them and rejected God in the same process.

He is not susceptible to dialectic or rhetoric on that point. He is more of a curiosity than anything because his views have narrowed and narrowed until he has become a mere caricature. He reminds me of the dwarfs in "The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis.

As Aslan is quoted as saying, "Their prison is only in their own mind, yet they are in that prison, and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out

Blogger James Dixon April 20, 2018 8:47 AM  

> I mean, I drive a hybrid. Not because I want to save the environment, but getting 400 miles a tank and paying $40-50/mo on gas is better for my financial bottom line.

Bingo. There are only a handful of vehicles that get 50+ mpg. The best quality/price of those available in my area was a Prius C. So that's what I drive.

Blogger dienw April 20, 2018 8:54 AM  

@20 Paul Sacramento:
It's just that simple.

Very simple and it is available to any constant and attentive reader of Proverbs:

Pro 1:1  The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 
Pro 1:2  To know wisdom and instruction; to [1]perceive the words of [2]understanding; 
Pro 1:3  To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 
Pro 1:4  To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and [3]discretion.
 

[1]Make an observation or observations.
Ask questions about the observations and gather information.

[2] Form a hypothesis — a tentative description of what's been observed, and make predictions based on that hypothesis.
Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.

Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the
[3] hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory."


From Strong's Hebrew dictionary
perceive:
bı̂yn
bene
A primitive root; to separate mentally (or distinguish), that is, (generally) understand: - attend, consider, be cunning, diligently, direct, discern, eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, have intelligence, know, look well to, mark, perceive, be prudent, regard, (can) skill (-ful), teach, think, (cause, make to, get, give, have) understand (-ing), view, (deal) wise (-ly, man).


understanding: same Hebrew root word as perceive;

discretion:
mezimmâh
mez-im-maw'
From H2161; a plan, usually evil (machination), sometimes good (sagacity)

Or in other words, to form a plan of action be it a painting, a piece of literature, a parable or proverb, or a science experiment.





Blogger dienw April 20, 2018 8:56 AM  

Should be:

[3]Test the hypothesis and predictions in an experiment that can be reproduced.
Analyze the data and draw conclusions; accept or reject the
hypothesis or modify the hypothesis if necessary.
Reproduce the experiment until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 8:58 AM  

I'm not talking about the validity of the scientific method in application, I am talking about the notion of the scientific method itself. If you can't measure it, you can't test or observe it. The hard problem. If he is a determinist, he doesn't think anyway and there is no truth.

Blogger Rory April 20, 2018 8:58 AM  

SlateStarCodex did a nice post on this a while back, about trying to find certainty in science (prompted in part by the reproducibility crisis):

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/04/28/the-control-group-is-out-of-control/

"Science! YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE! It was said that you would destroy reliance on biased experts, not join them! Bring balance to epistemology, not leave it in darkness!"

Blogger Doug Cranmer April 20, 2018 9:03 AM  

Yes.

Blogger Nathan April 20, 2018 9:03 AM  

Vox, (post #10, responding to my post #1)

"I just read it. It's a joke. I mean, not even anywhere close to being a meaningful response, let alone defense. It's nothing more than the usual scientistric smoke and mirrors."

Thanks for taking a look. Now, I can pray that you might do the honor of decimating it for the world to see on a blog post to. Not as informed about the topic as should be, nor can I cut through misleading arguments like you.

Blogger VD April 20, 2018 9:13 AM  

I'm not talking about the validity of the scientific method in application, I am talking about the notion of the scientific method itself. If you can't measure it, you can't test or observe it. The hard problem. If he is a determinist, he doesn't think anyway and there is no truth.

Yes, we know. Everyone with the philosophical chops already knows this. The point is that you cannot expect to effectively utilize philosophy when you are dealing with people who can't even handle science correctly.

You are making the classic dialectical mistake of trying to speak Chinese to the Pidgin English speaker.

Blogger Rocklea Marina April 20, 2018 9:37 AM  

"You are making the classic dialectical mistake of trying to speak Chinese to the Pidgin English speaker."

Fair enough, rhetoric is my native language but I guess that was pure dialectic. Still, you would think that would get his noggin joggin. Does for me anyway. Philosophy should be mandatory for... well, everyone with half a brain. Even the Moroks had Garang. And they employed the scientific method with similar results to our scientists at the moment.

Blogger Duke Norfolk April 20, 2018 9:54 AM  

VD wrote:Try again. I replaced the link with one to an archive.


Grazie mille!

Blogger Metric April 20, 2018 10:00 AM  

The whole issue boils down to premature acceptance of results, when it suits some agenda. When people signal that they have a demand for such things -- surprise! -- a supply will appear. Very analogous to recent economic bubbles, when people stop caring about the underlying business and start caring about the response of investors to ".com." In this case, people stopped caring so much about the actual science, and started caring more about how people respond when you say the word "science."

Blogger Avalanche April 20, 2018 10:41 AM  

@19 "Striking a power pose is BS? no way."

Way. Realize that MOST "psychology" experiments are done on college kids (or rats) -- available, cheap (give a grade for participation), and willing. They report their version of "I felt more powerful, so I answered the test question as an actor!" (How many masculine K-selected college males do you think there are?! How many of them back away when asked to play these games? KNOW your study population!)

Tom Naughton here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RXvBveht0 46 min. and WELL worth the time -- points out that (health/biology) studies done on non-humans should be taken with a shaker-full of (Himalayan Sea) salt, because -- e.g., the whole cholesterol studies done in rats had the be faked -- rabbits DO NOT EAT animal fat; they're vegetarian. So, to "study" "how" animal fat causes heart disease in humans (!),they had to force-fed rabbits animal fat -- and then act all surprised when it made them sick! ("More grant money now please, statin makers...")


The folks (mostly men) who DO this "stand like you're powerful" drill are either already powerful or they're weasels and weenies who do it and who KNOW that sense of power is fake, but it makes them feel better about their weenie selves, as if there's a magic pill (pose) that can MAKE them into men....

Blogger Solaire Of Astora April 20, 2018 10:44 AM  

I read an article last month about some discoveries regarding Europe's genetic legacy and its history of invasions and German scientists were resigning from the project when the findings started to support some old 'Nazi' ideas. Clearly the truth is not their highest priority. They're running a scam to milk the government for money. The replicability crisis is pretty definitive proof that academia is a farce.

Here's the article for reference. The best part is at the end where the guy concludes by saying the findings support diversity rather than the opposite because the historical record shows that Europe was home to diverse groups in the past. Of course his actual findings support no conclusion other than immigration was a series of cataclysmic replacements.

http://archive.is/LPS7T

Blogger Avalanche April 20, 2018 10:46 AM  

@28 "There are only a handful of vehicles that get 50+ mpg. The best quality/price of those available in my area was a Prius C. So that's what I drive."

Aw, hell no -- check out the KIA NIRO! I'm averaging 52 mpg (and I don't drive like a Prius driver, watching the mpg meter more than the streets! I drive it like the baby-sport-ute it is!) AND I can fit 16 bags of mulch in the back! Brilliant car, pleasure to drive!

Blogger James April 20, 2018 10:47 AM  

Look, when you have people like Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson promoted as spokesmen for Science ™, what do you expect? The growth areas in science seem to be in the “Social Sciences” and in hard science that can’t be proven or disproven at our level of understanding (e.g., Climatology, Pharmaceutical research, Genetics). What worries me about Genetics, and by extension all science, is that research in this area requires a high level of moral, ethical oversight to avoid trying to play God. With scientists pursuing tenure or the almighty dollar, this could produce disastrous results. Well, it could if modern scientists could actually replicate results. Maybe the current process of importing red dot Indians into our nations to reduce the salaries for scientists is just God, with his sense of humor, protecting his children from their own curiosity.

Blogger kurt9 April 20, 2018 10:50 AM  

Science is suffering the pernicious effects of government-funded academia. Researchers are under pressure to publish and to do publishable work. Much of what they publish is BS. This is the reason why I have come to the conclusion that the only reality test of science is if it leads to technological innovation.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother April 20, 2018 10:51 AM  

Here is some science we can all agree on.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bhy4Tk8FUU9/

Blogger Avalanche April 20, 2018 10:53 AM  

@40 "German scientists were resigning from the project when the findings started to support some old 'Nazi' ideas. Clearly the truth is not their highest priority."

If EVERY TIME you step near to the truth, the 'Soviets' and their offspring attach electrodes to your genitals and burn them -- you are NOT EVER going to even stay in the room when the truth even becomes a POSSIBILITY of being mentioned.

If the few honest German scientists left have families and a desire to keep them housed and fed -- then yes, they ARE going to run like hell whenever there is even the smell of 'electricity' in the room! Blame them? Not sure we can -- most of the German MEN were killed during and after WWII. Any left are living behind enemy lines with nowhere to escape to! (Very soviet, that, eh?)

Blogger kurt9 April 20, 2018 11:51 AM  

I have friends who have worked in the government-funded R&D milieu, both university as well as SBIR's. They tell me the system has been corrupt for a very long time, at least since the 1970's. The reproducibility problem extends over all areas of research, particularly biomedicine. All of the soft fields (social science, psychology, etc.) are completely worthless.

My friend, who came out of this milieu, was so fed up with it he suggested we lobby to have all government funding of science terminated. He believed, as do I, that the rate of technological innovation will increase as a result of ending government funding of science. The problem with government funded science is that it creates an "attractive nuisance" that drew talented people out of productive fields and into fields that produced nothing.

All of the big science stuff represents this. The ITER tokamak project has not and has no hope of producing commercial fusion power. NASA has not done anything useful to develop the technology and low cost space transportation to enable mass settlement of the solar system (e.g. L-5 Society style). NIH and other government funded biomedicine has not done anything to cure aging (this is being done by private efforts such as Aubrey de Grey's SENS Foundation). Examples go on and on.

The problem is much bigger than most of you realize.

Blogger justaguy April 20, 2018 12:09 PM  

Anything that politics touches it corrupts. Politics is power and power... So science went political decades ago and now a generation of posers published BS for a chance at a tenured high paying gig in academia--- and somehow anyone should listen to them?

Without any realistic feedback on scientific research, science now advances to that which is proven from engineering implementation. I am not sure that there ever was a "golden generation of science" where engineering into real use was not the only method of advancement.

Blogger Metric April 20, 2018 12:22 PM  

I would also like to see government funding terminated. I'm saying this as a theorist who gravitates to high-risk research. The government funding generates corruption in the form of p-hacked results and the like (what tends to get talked about here), but it also creates a very low-risk, low-return mentality amongst grant-funders, who cannot be seen as taking any risk at all when huge sums of taxpayer money are on the line. Every grant I've ever had funded has been from a private organization who went out of their way to look for high-risk, high-reward proposals.

Blogger DonReynolds April 20, 2018 1:11 PM  

I can easily remember when anti-intellectuals would sneer and spit when they encountered scientific theories. Science has traditionally been reluctant to proclaim theories as Facts and this was perceived as a weakness by the anti-intellectualoids...and this included some of the most solid and reproducible elements of what we consider the body of science. "That is just a theory..." was taken by the media gods as a valid criticism and caution. (This did not alarm anyone in science but it seemed to be the kiss of death by the followers of Ludd.)

In the past, a theory could float around in a sea of science like a message in a bottle for centuries and observations tested and re-tested repeatedly as part of science education, and still be treated as mere theory.

Now we seem to be at the point where scientific re-demonstration, which is the automatic threshold of factual, has become "take my word for it" on the part of people delivering papers at conventions, wearing white labcoats. Worse still.....there are "fields" and "disciplines" that were never before considered "scientific" who now wear those same white labcoats and claim to actually be "scientific" or of "science".

I am not uncomfortable with theories being re-demonstrated for generations, or even becoming "effects". I may even come to regard them as factual and reliable, but if they cannot be reliably reproduced...it is not science....it is a nasty rumor...a fluke.

Blogger Metric April 20, 2018 1:57 PM  

It might be useful to separate out what is happening in theoretical work ("A & B imply C & D") vs. experiment ("X" has been found to be true, to some degree of confidence). They are vulnerable to corruption in very different ways.

Blogger SciVo April 20, 2018 2:26 PM  

When I was a teenager, I had a hypothesis that most all "scientific" advice about diet and health was pseudoscientific garbage. I tested this hypothesis by cooking however I wanted: frying scrambled eggs in bacon grease, making big, juicy cheeseburgers from non-lean beef, salting to taste without a second thought, and so on. I've been doing that for over a quarter of a century now, and so far, I have failed to disconfirm that hypothesis; my recent physical came back great (except for some waist expansion most likely caused by an unfavorable beer/exertion ratio).

Even my liver is fine! I wasn't actually expecting that, so I can't help but suspect that even alcohol's health risks have been overblown. My new alcohol/liver hypothesis is that there's a combination of failing to properly isolate variables, and then purposely communicating the results imprecisely to maximize alarm. (People who are not me are on more and more prescription meds these days; impaired liver function is a common side effect of said meds; and regarding alcohol, our culture retains some of Prohibition's puritanical, authoritarian, social-engineering spirit.)

Blogger James Dixon April 20, 2018 3:57 PM  

> Aw, hell no -- check out the KIA NIRO!

"The Kia Niro is a hybrid subcompact crossover SUV manufactured by Kia Motors since 2016."

I got my Prius C in 2014.

> The problem is much bigger than most of you realize.

You underestimate us. Quite a few of us have a fair idea how big the problem is.

Blogger tublecane April 20, 2018 4:27 PM  

"the idea that science can even theoretically serve as a basis for moral guidance"

Wasn't that one of the obsessions of John Dewey? Serious question, because despite having read two of his books I still don't know how his system works. Not sure I understood even one sentence.

But I know how pseudoscientific morality works. It's like how modern artists said they were compelled to make art reflecting and inspired by the modern world. You know, modern technology, modern materials, modern this, modern that. Turns out what they meant by "modern" didn't necessarily have anything to do with modern society as it actually exists. It was their idea of modernity, often wildly different from actuality.

I don't want to say to people like Harris "science" is just branding for whatever moral system they already have on mind. Though that may be true. In any case, they have most of their moral precepts waiting for them, readymade. Embarrassingly for them, probably largely derived from Christianity. But nevermind that.

They take this starting material, then they whisk it into a bowl of what they think scientific morality should look like. Maybe they add dashes of actual science on top. Voila! Science morality!

Alternatively, if they were actually to try to use science to build a moral system from the ground up, the end result would cause people to call them monsters and chase them with torches and pitchforks. And they'd deserve it.

Blogger tublecane April 20, 2018 4:56 PM  

@2- Science skated by on its record. Or its apparent record, I should say. Because it supposedly gave us the industrial, electrical, and combustion engine revolutions, it built the atom bomb and put us on the moon. So we didn't look at it as skeptically as we do other human institutions, like the state or Big Business.

Somehow academia as a whole got a similar pass, though with less latitude. I dunno why. That's how the Cathedral came to rule us.

It's a wonder the people who look askance at oil companies, for instance, never stop to think about corruption from Big Science. Especially those who work inside it and see it for the "human, all too human" thing it is.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener April 20, 2018 5:35 PM  

But science works when you do it right. Sort of like praying.

Blogger Levi Shay April 20, 2018 7:08 PM  

Where did the 11% come from? I only saw 39% false in the article.

Blogger SirHamster April 20, 2018 7:38 PM  

Levi Shay wrote:Where did the 11% come from? I only saw 39% false in the article.

"Further from the spotlight is a lot of equally flawed research that is often more consequential. In 2012 the biotechnology firm Amgen tried to reproduce 53 “landmark” studies in hematology and oncology. The company could only replicate six."

6/53 = 11.3%

Blogger Nate73 April 20, 2018 10:38 PM  

A very timely commentary on the fake confidence of humanism and its relation to science:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CltwD0Ek9Kk

Blogger Assyrian Nationalist April 21, 2018 3:49 AM  

Nate73 wrote:A very timely commentary on the fake confidence of humanism and its relation to science:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CltwD0Ek9Kk


Thank you for sharing that video, Nate. The Golddigger's Paradox was insightful.

Anonymous Anonymous April 21, 2018 8:58 AM  

"And the great irony is that scientistry now stands condemned by its beloved scientodific metric."

Exactly so. Science corrects itself. Religion doesn't.

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