Science

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Not to be confused with rigged science, which is the corrupted counterpart; or scientism, an exaggerated belief in science

Concept.png Science Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
The Scientific Method.png
Interest of• Mark Boguski
• Denis Rancourt
• Science and Technology Select Committee
• United States Office of Research Integrity
Subpage(s)Science/Corruption
Science/Dissident
Science/Problematic notions
Ideally, the scientific method is a powerful tool. However, it is often corrupted to rigged science

Science is the study of the natural world through experiment and observation. Scientific research involves using the scientific method, which seeks to objectively explain the events of nature in a reproducible way.

After World War 2, science entered a period of unprecedented growth, having gone from being a scattered, amateur pursuit of wealthy gentleman to a career profession, where publishing articles became the measure of success, able to shape a scientist’s career and the direction of science itself.[1]

Problematic notions

Full article: Stub class article Science/Problematic notions

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Scientific publishing

It is difficult to overstate how much power a journal editor now had to shape a scientist’s career and the direction of science itself. “Young people tell me all the time, ‘If I don’t publish in CNS [a common acronym for Cell/Nature/Science, the most prestigious journals in biology], I won’t get a job,” says Nobel prize winner Rany Schekman. He compared the pursuit of high-impact publications to an incentive system as rotten as banking bonuses. “They have a very big influence on where science goes.”[1]

The market for scientific journals is highly concentrated. In 2015, Elsevier owned 24% of the scientific journal market, while Springer ans Wiley-Blackwell controlled about another 12% each. These three companies accounted for half the market.[1]

Perspectives on the Pandemic: The Illusion of Evidence Based Medicine — "As much of the world rushes to receive a lightly-tested pharmaceutical product, we thought it was high time to look again at the (very) big business of medicine. Leemon McHenry, PhD, guides us to the fraudulent core of ghostwritten studies, captured legislators, revolving-door regulatory agencies, pay-to-play medical journals, and the "key opinion leaders" who lend their academic credentials to giant corporations...for a price."

Few people did more to shape the way science is conducted today than Robert Maxwell (1923-1991), who turned scientific journals into a spectacular money-making machine that bankrolled his rise in British society, by taking publishing out of the hands of scientists and expanding the business on a previously unimaginable scale. By 1959, Maxwell's Pergamon was publishing 40 journals; six years later it would publish 150. In 1991, shortly before his demise, Maxwell sold Pergamon to his quiet Dutch competitor Elsevier.[1]

Sydney Brenner, Nobel laureate in medicine 2002, criticized the journal system:

I think peer review is hindering science. In fact, I think it has become a completely corrupt system. It’s corrupt in many ways, in that scientists and academics have handed over to the editors of these journals the ability to make judgment on science and scientists. There are universities in America, and I’ve heard from many committees, that we won’t consider people’s publications in low impact factor journals.


Because publications have become a proxy for research quality, publications in high impact factor journals are the metric used by grant and promotion committees to assess individual researchers. The problem is that impact factor, which is based on the number of times papers are cited, does not necessarily correlate with good science. To maximize impact factor, journal editors seek out sensational papers, which boldly challenge norms or explore trendy topics, and ignore less spectacular, but equally important things like replication studies or negative results. As a consequence, academics are incentivised to produce research that caters to these demands.

Academics are slowly awakening to the fact that this dogged drive to publish rubbish has serious consequences on the quality of the science that they produce, which have far reaching consequences for public policy, costs, and human lives. One study found that only six out of 53 landmark studies in cancer research were replicable. In another study, researchers were only able to repeat a quarter of 67 influential papers in their field.

[2]

Scientific method

Scientific research involves using the scientific method, which seeks to objectively explain the events of nature in a reproducible way. An explanatory thought experiment or hypothesis is put forward as explanation using principles such as parsimony (also known as "Occam's Razor") and are generally expected to seek consilience – fitting well with other accepted facts related to the phenomena. This new explanation is used to make falsifiable predictions that are testable by experiment or observation. The predictions are to be posted before a confirming experiment or observation is sought, as proof that no tampering has occurred. Disproof of a prediction is evidence of progress.

When a hypothesis proves unsatisfactory, it is either modified or discarded. If the hypothesis survived testing, it may become adopted into the framework of a scientific theory, a logically reasoned, self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of certain natural phenomena.

While performing experiments to test hypotheses, scientists may have a preference for one outcome over another, and so it is important to ensure that science as a whole can eliminate this bias. This can be achieved by careful experimental design, transparency, and a thorough peer review process of the experimental results as well as any conclusions. After the results of an experiment are announced or published, it is normal practice for independent researchers to double-check how the research was performed, and to follow up by performing similar experiments to determine how dependable the results might be. Taken in its entirety, the scientific method allows for highly creative problem solving while minimizing any effects of subjective bias on the part of its users (especially the confirmation bias).[3]

 

Examples

Page nameDescription
Biologythe science of life.
Chemistry
Physics
PsychologyThe science of mind and behaviour.
Sociology

 

Related Quotations

PageQuoteAuthorDate
Big pharma“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”Marcia Angell2009
Big pharma“Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”Richard Horton2015
Anthony Fauci“Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.”Anthony Fauci2021
Mae-Wan Ho“What makes genetic engineering biotechnology dangerous, in the first instance, is that it is an unprecedented, close alliance between two great powers that can make or break the world: science and commerce. Practically all established molecular geneticists have some direct or indirect connection with industry, which will set limits on what the scientists can and will do research on, not to mention the possibility of compromising their integrity as independent scientists.

.

The worst aspect of the alliance is that it is between the most reductionist science and multinational monopolistic industry at its most aggressive and exploitative. If the truth be told, it is bad science working together with big business for quick profit, aided and abetted by our governments for the banal reason that governments wish to be re-elected to remain in ‘power.’”
Mae-Wan Ho1997
Christopher Langan“[...] but that's the way it works, it's one giant self-reinforcing system, basically it's run by people with money and if people with money want certain questions to be answered in certain ways, then they make sure that nobody advances in academia who does not parrot the party line, and say what he is expected to say, so this kind of self reinforcement is antithetical to intellectual freedom and creativity. [...] (00:11:10)”Christopher Langan2019
Peter McCullough“I’m deeply worried concerned regarding the future of America and also deeply afraid of loss of freedom of speech and of scientific discourse.”Peter McCullough
Plastic word“In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, ‘The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality’, while another writes, ‘The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness’, the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.”George Orwell1946
Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez“There's a powerful public opinion campaign induced by Big Pharma. If one explores the national and international press, and traces recommendations like these, one can perceive an important lack of scientific information to support these kind of recommendations. And by contrast there are statements by Big Pharma executives that already take it for granted.”Hugo López-Gatell RamírezJuly 2021

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:How Monsanto silences scientific dissentcommentary3 December 2013James Corbett
Document:Open Letter on Retraction and Pledge to Boycott Elsevieropen letter4 December 2013Institute of Science in Society
Document:Retracting Séralini Study Violates Science and Ethicsarticle4 December 2013Mae-Wan Ho
Peter Saunders
Document:Scientific fraud and the power structure of sciencepaperJune 1992Brian Martin
File:Global Climate Alarmism and Historical Precedents.pdfpaperSeptember 2013Richard LindzenAuthoritative opinion from one of the world's leading climate scientists and IPCC member working on the 1995 and 2001 Assessment reports


References