Not exactly, but computer use can, they say, distort it in unexpected ways. From RealClearScience:
How Computers Broke Science
For most of the history of science, researchers have reported their methods in a way that enabled independent reproduction of their results. But, since the introduction of the personal computer – and the point-and-click software programs that have evolved to make it more user-friendly – reproducibility of much research has become questionable, if not impossible. Too much of the research process is now shrouded by the opaque use of computers that many researchers have come to depend on. This makes it almost impossible for an outsider to recreate their results.
Recently, several groups have proposed similar solutions to this problem.
Recent scandals in the social sciences do leave one wondering how researchers arrived at the conclusions they did. Sometimes wondering becomes accusation, admission, and puishment (at best — at worst it is all just accepted). But other sciences are affected too, witness the blizzard of retractions elsewere.
One major recommendation: minimize and replace point-and-click procedures during data analysis as much as possible by using scripts that contain instructions for the computer to carry out. This solves the problem of recording ephemeral mouse movements that leave few traces, are difficult to communicate to other people, and hard to automate. They’re common during data cleaning and organizing tasks using a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. A script, on the other hand, contains unambiguous instructions that can be read by its author far into the future (when the specific details have been forgotten) and by other researchers. It can also be included within a journal article, since they aren’t big files. And scripts can easily be adapted to automate research tasks, saving time and reducing the potential for human error.
We shall see. HAL notwithstanding, computers do not originate ideas, and the referres will probably only ever be half a stp ahead. But it is worth a try, compared to relying—under the circumstances—on peer review.
See also: If peer review is working, why all the retractions?
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One Reply to “Computers are manipulating science?”
Wait what? But reproducible science only means something if there is peer review, i.e. if peers check the work (e.g. the scripts – I’ve done this myself and found errors hidden deep in code).