The reason the replication crisis matters is that we are constantly told to Trust the Science when there seems like less reason to do so all the time:
Back in 2018, several hoaxers slipped works dubious on their face past peer review and into publication. One study, which made it into the journal Sex Roles, employed “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to determine why heterosexual men go to Hooters, a question that would seem to answer itself. Another looked at “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon.” And a third just scattered some modern buzzwords into translated passages from “Mein Kampf” and was published under the title “Our Struggle Is My Struggle” in a journal of feminist social work.
Meanwhile, leading names in the field of social psychology turn out to have committed research fraud to an extent that it tainted the entire field. And as the Wall Street Journal reported, “One noted biostatistician has suggested that as many as half of all published findings in biomedicine are false.” Glenn H. Reynolds, “We’re told to ‘follow the science’ — yet some of it is just plain wrong” at New York Post (August 26, 2021)
We’ve noted much of that at this blog. Reynolds observes,
Bad research guides behavior — whether it’s government policy or drug development budgets or energy research — in the wrong direction.
Producing such research is a natural temptation, conscious or subconscious, for scientists. Success depends on funding, and funding agencies want results. So do university administrations. And all too often, both are as interested in something that produces headlines, and headlines often drive policy.Glenn H. Reynolds, “We’re told to ‘follow the science’ — yet some of it is just plain wrong” at New York Post (August 26, 2021)
So what we think we know and must defend becomes the enemy of what we need to know.
You may also wish to read: Medical science: “Time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise?” Michael Cook: The gold standard for fraud is a Japanese researcher in anaesthetics, Yoshitaka Fujii, of Toho University. By the time he came unstuck about 10 years ago, he had published around 200 articles – and 183 of them have been retracted because he had falsified the data. “If someone can publish 183 fabricated trials,” said Roberts, “the problem is not with him, the problem is with the system.”