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Sabine Hossenfelder: Scientific publishing is too much like Facebook

Lost in Math

Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, focuses on the ways that search algorithms can be manipulated and offers a solution:

Because it occurred to me recently that the problem with Facebook’s omnipotent algorithm is very similar to a problem we see with scientific publishing. In scientific publishing, we also have a widely used technique for filtering information that is causing trouble. In this case, we filter which publications or authors we judge as promising.

For this filtering, it has become common to look at the number of citations that a paper receives. And this does cause problems, because the number of citations may be entirely disconnected from the real world impact of a research direction. The only thing the number of citations really demonstrates is popularity. Citations are a measure that’s as disconnected from scientific relevance as the number of likes is from the truth value of an article on Facebook. Sabine Hossenfelder, “The trouble with Facebook and what it has in common with scientific publishing.” at Back(Re)Action

She introduces SciMeter.org where you can “Create your own custom metric and apply it to a list of authors.” And it is none of Mark Zuckerberg’s business or any science boffin’s either.

Funny how many people are talking about Big Social Media manipulation these days. Either it’s a big problem or we are all going collectively nuts. Or both.

See also: Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder is really confused about free will

Sabine Hossenfelder On The Flight From Falsifiability


Has the Large Hadron Collider broken physics?

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