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Report: That so many studies cannot be reproduced is a “crisis” in science

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From the National Association of Scholars (2018) (open access):

This report deals with an epistemic problem, which is most visible in the large numbers of articles in reputable peer-reviewed journals in the sciences that have turned out to be invalid or highly questionable. Findings from experimental work or observational studies turn out, time and again, to be irreproducible. The high rates of irreproducibility are an ongoing scandal that rightly has upset a large portion of the scientific community. Estimates of what percentage of published articles present irreproducible results vary by discipline. Randall and Welser cite various studies, some of them truly alarming. A 2012 study, for example, aimed at reproducing the results of 53 landmark studies in hematology and oncology, but succeeded in replicating only six (11 percent) of those studies.

Irreproducibility can stem from several causes, chief among them fraud and incompetence. The two are not always easily distinguished, but The Irreproducibility Crisis deals mainly with the kinds of incompetence that mar the analysis of data and that lead to insupportable conclusions. Fraud, however, is also a factor to be weighed.David Randall and Christopher Welser, “The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science: Causes, Consequences, and the Road to Reform” at National Association of Scholars

They talk a bit about the politicization of the academy as well, though that’s not their main focus:

Many scientists think of themselves as philosopher kings, far superior to those in the “basket of deplorables.” The deplorables have a hard time understanding why scientists are so special, and why they should vote as instructed by them. More than two thousand years ago, Plato, who promoted the ideal of philosopher kings, also promoted the concept of the “noble lie,” a myth designed to persuade a skeptical population that they should be grateful to be ruled by philosopher kings. Our current scientific community has occasionally resorted to the noble lie, a problem that can’t be fixed by better training in statistics. Noble lies are also irreproducible and damage the credibility of science William Happer, “Afterword: The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science: Causes, Consequences, and the Road to Reform” at National Association of Scholars

Um, yes, sires, as it happens, the masses are revolting…

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See also: Pushback against abandoning “statistical significance” in science


Abandon statistical significance, learn to live with uncertainty, scientists demand

Our academic system is descended from Akademos, a grove near Athens that was sacred to the goddess of wisdom. Membership was by invitation only. Members considered that they owned all knowledge, which they defined to be stuff they had made up by their own powers of reasoning. The most famous member was Aristotle, whose name to this day is still a synonym for "arrogant jerk". In the modern tradition, philosophers make up names for concepts, usually the name of the inventor, and they discuss implications but never rightness. After all, the system evolved from a pagan religion, not associated with rightness. Debunkers are not tolerated in the academic system, not even a little bit. That papers are not reproducible is not a crisis. The crisis is that some debunker has embarrassed the crowd and he must be insulted and rejected. SmartAZ
Scientific progress is slowing down, yet humans keep breeding, and so we end up with more and more people in all the fields, including in science. All those people want their salaries to keep coming and their careers to advance. Those in science are thus required to "publish or perish". Eugene

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