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At Nature: Authors’ names have “astonishing” influence in science

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Why is this astonishing: “A Nobel prizewinner is six times more likely than someone less well known to get a thumbs-up for acceptance, finds study.”

Surely the author of this paywalled article, Nicola Jones, is joking if she claims to be astonished. Does she think we are all the slow class? Her mistake.

4 Replies to “At Nature: Authors’ names have “astonishing” influence in science

  1. 1
    asauber says:

    The Scientific Community abounds in basic human shortcomings and failures that are evident in what that community produces, but some continue to try and pretend it doesn’t.

    Just confirming what we already know.

    Andrew

  2. 2
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @1

    The Scientific Community abounds in basic human shortcomings and failures that are evident in what that community produces, but some continue to try and pretend it doesn’t.

    I don’t know who this “some” refers to. Perhaps some overly enthusiastic popularizers of basic science?

    In any event: what matters for understanding science is not that scientific theories are free from all bias, but that scientific methods are the best social practice we have yet been able to devise which minimizes the influence of the biases to which all are prone.

    There’s an old line about democracy: “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have ever been tried.” (It’s usually attributed to Churchill, but in the speech where he said it, he indicated that it was already an old saying.) I think that the analogy with science is pretty strong here: the worst form of belief management except for all the others that have ever been tried.

    The parallel between science and democracy can be taken further: they only work as we believe they should when enough people care about the maintaining the institutions that support them and work hard to minimize the corrupting influence of power and money. Science corrupted by power is not science worth having (cf. the Lysenko affair).

  3. 3
    asauber says:

    “Perhaps some overly enthusiastic popularizers of basic science?”

    PM1,

    Maybe, but I was thinking more along the lines of using the trappings of science to promote non-scientific information. For example, if someone presents a nice sciency graph which doesn’t represent factual information, but hypes a point of view or interpretation… but the sciency product doesn’t tell you that anywhere.

    Andrew

  4. 4
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @3

    Maybe, but I was thinking more along the lines of using the trappings of science to promote non-scientific information. For example, if someone presents a nice sciency graph which doesn’t represent factual information, but hypes a point of view or interpretation… but the sciency product doesn’t tell you that anywhere.

    Ah, yes, there is a regrettable fetish of metrics in lots of decision-making. The managers don’t even care if they have the best data or all the relevant data, as long as they have the data that backs up the decision that they already want to make.

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