Thursday, February 27, 2020

Should you trust scientists?

Well, no.  Here's a fascinating paper from the editor of a scientific journal, describing the reindeer games he deals with every day:


A reproducibility crisis is a situation where many scientific studies cannot be reproduced. Inappropriate practices of science, such as HARKing, p-hacking, and selective reporting of positive results, have been suggested as causes of irreproducibility. In this editorial, I propose that a lack of raw data or data fabrication is another possible cause of irreproducibility.
As an Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Brain, I have handled 180 manuscripts since early 2017 and have made 41 editorial decisions categorized as “Revise before review,” requesting that the authors provide raw data. Surprisingly, among those 41 manuscripts, 21 were withdrawn without providing raw data, indicating that requiring raw data drove away more than half of the manuscripts. I rejected 19 out of the remaining 20 manuscripts because of insufficient raw data. Thus, more than 97% of the 41 manuscripts did not present the raw data supporting their results when requested by an editor, suggesting a possibility that the raw data did not exist from the beginning, at least in some portions of these cases. [ My emphasis - Borepatch]
Considering that any scientific study should be based on raw data, and that data storage space should no longer be a challenge, journals, in principle, should try to have their authors publicize raw data in a public database or journal site upon the publication of the paper to increase reproducibility of the published results and to increase public trust in science.
The scariest thing about this?  It's published in the journal Molecular Brain - a medical journal.  Professional scientists game the system with lousy papers, taking attention and money away from legitimate papers.  They do this for exactly the reason you would think - to divert that attention and funding to them, to help their careers.

I've written repeatedly about this problem (most recently here, perhaps the earliest here).  And this only covers plain old grifting; politicized science like Global Warming is another elephant in the room.  I had a long post ten years back about pushback from scientists against scientists who played fast and loose:
Eschenbach has been at the center of the Climate debate - specifically the Freedom Of Information Act requests:
I made the request to CRU because I was disgusted with the response of mainstream climate scientists to Phil Jone’s reply to Warwick Hughes. When Warwick made a simple scientific request for data, Jones famously said: 
Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?
When I heard that, I was astounded. But in addition to being astounded, I was naive. Looking back, I was incredibly naive. I was so naive that I actually thought, “Well, Phil’s gonna get his hand slapped hard by real scientists for that kind of anti-scientific statements”. Foolish me, I thought you guys were honest scientists who would be outraged by that. 
So I waited for some mainstream climate scientist to speak out against that kind of scientific malfeasance … and waited … and waited. In fact, I’m still waiting.
Eschenbach is the person who filed the Freedom Of Information Act request for the CRU's climate data that led to the ClimateGate ("Hide the decline") leak.  Sadly, nothing has changed much.

So no, you shouldn't trust scientists, at least until you can assure yourself that they're not self-dealing.


Old NFO said...

And it won't as long as governments fund 'grants' for research and the researchers exist in a publish or perish environment...

SiGraybeard said...

Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

Phil Jones, you should be begging people to find out what's wrong with it. That's what real science is.

Contrast Jones quote with Richard Feynman's quote and you see how a real scientist thinks, as opposed to Jones: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool"

Kinnison said...

Not much has changed since then, has it?

Jess said...

With science becoming more corrupted by politics, and subversion, it makes it more easy to understand how many in the past were burned at the stake.

capt fast said...

my education in the 1950s~70s taught many things that are no longer factual. one thing remains always factual-you are wrong until proven otherwise.

LSP said...

But... but... we must obey our rulers! Report yourself immediately, "Borepatch."