Culture Intelligent Design Mind Peer review

At FiveThirtyEight: “The easiest way to undermine good science is to demand that it be made ‘sound.’”

Spread the love
File:FileStack.jpg
What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

From at Christie Anschwanden FiveThirtyEight:

These are the arguments underlying an “open science” reform movement that was created, in part, as a response to a “reproducibility crisis” that has struck some fields of science.1 But they’re also used as talking points by politicians who are working to make it more difficult for the EPA and other federal agencies to use science in their regulatory decision-making, under the guise of basing policy on “sound science.” Science’s virtues are being wielded against it.

What distinguishes the two calls for transparency is intent: Whereas the “open science” movement aims to make science more reliable, reproducible and robust, proponents of “sound science” have historically worked to amplify uncertainty, create doubt and undermine scientific discoveries that threaten their interests.

“Our criticisms are founded in a confidence in science,” said Steven Goodman, co-director of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford and a proponent of open science. “That’s a fundamental difference — we’re critiquing science to make it better. Others are critiquing it to devalue the approach itself.”

That’s an odd focus in an age when the public hears about mounting tax-funded science scandals.

Couldn’t we start by talking about that? On the other hand, she says,

These controversies are really about values, not scientific facts, and acknowledging that would allow us to have more truthful and productive debates. What would that look like in practice? Instead of cherry-picking evidence to support a particular view (and insisting that the science points to a desired action), the various sides could lay out the values they are using to assess the evidence. More.

Yes, let’s do have a discussion around the values that shape claims in science. How about starting with, do you believe that people are competent to assess fairly presented evidence? Some think that consciousness is an evolved illusion, so no. We evolved to need coercion and there is only power. Where do discussion partners stand on that view?

See also: Retraction world: If this is science, yes we do hate it

2 Replies to “At FiveThirtyEight: “The easiest way to undermine good science is to demand that it be made ‘sound.’”

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    538 = Deepstate. Nuff said.

  2. 2
    critical rationalist says:

    The cry for transparency is just a ploy….

    In the hands of doubt-makers, transparency becomes a rhetorical move. “It’s really difficult as a scientist or policy maker to make a stand against transparency and openness, because well, who would be against it?” said Karen Levy, researcher on information science at Cornell University. But at the same time, “you can couch everything in the language of transparency and it becomes a powerful weapon.” For instance, when the EPA was preparing to set new limits on particulate pollution in the 1990s, industry groups pushed back against the research and demanded access to primary data (including records that researchers had promised participants would remain confidential) and a reanalysis of the evidence. Their calls succeeded and a new analysis was performed. The reanalysis essentially confirmed the original conclusions, but the process of conducting it delayed the implementation of regulations and cost researchers time and money.

    Delay is a time-tested strategy. “Gridlock is the greatest friend a global warming skeptic has,” said Marc Morano, a prominent critic of global warming research and the executive director of ClimateDepot.com, in the documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (based on the book by the same name). Morano’s site is a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which has received funding from the oil and gas industry. “We’re the negative force. We’re just trying to stop stuff.”

    And a discussion on values?…..

    The dispute over tobacco was never about the science of cigarettes’ link to cancer. It was about whether companies have the right to sell dangerous products and, if so, what obligations they have to the consumers who purchased them. Similarly, the debate over climate change isn’t about whether our planet is heating, but about how much responsibility each country and person bears for stopping it. While researching her book “Merchants of Doubt,” science historian Naomi Oreskes found that some of the same people who were defending the tobacco industry as scientific experts were also receiving industry money to deny the role of human activity in global warming. What these issues had in common, she realized, was that they all involved the need for government action. “None of this is about the science. All of this is a political debate about the role of government,” she said in the documentary.

Leave a Reply