Can We Trust Scientific Consensus?

Even the Huffpo is suggesting the answer is not so much:

Can we trust scientific consensus? Can we trust the integrity of our scientific institutions?

Perhaps not. Over the last few years, a growing chorus of insider critics have been exposing serious flaws in the ways that scientific research is funded and published, leading some to go so far as to say,”Science is broken.”

The dysfunctions they describe include:
Deliberate, unconscious, and systemic fraud
Irreproducibility of results and lack of incentive to attempt replication
Misuse of statistics, such as “P-hacking” – the mining of research data to extract a post-hoc “hypothesis” for publication
– Severe flaws in the system of peer review (see here and here), for example, its propensity to enforce existing paradigms, to be hostile to anything that challenges the views of the reviewers whose careers are invested in those views.
– Difficulty in obtaining funding for creative and unorthodox research hypotheses
Publication bias that also favors positive results over negative results, and suppresses research that won’t benefit a researcher’s career

The system encourages the endless elaboration of existing theories about which there is consensus, but if one of these is wrong, there are nearly insuperable barriers to it ever being overturned.

Well, gee whilikers. It’s almost like somebody’s been reading Watts Up With That.

Speaking of which, Lewandowsky and friends have another shady paper out, this one purporting to study the connection between age and belief in conspiracy theories, such as the lunar landing is a hoax, ergo climate change is a hoax. As an aside, this one is amusing to me because I only know one person who believes the lunar landing could be a hoax, and that person leans considerably left of me.

But back to Lewandowsky- the paper about age included several minors and somebody puprortedly thousands of years old- something he didn’t wish to correct. When finally forced to correct it by the journal which published it, he left most of the minors in- and then sought to get retroactive approval for use of minors in his scientific research. You can read about that here.

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