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The most serious outcome of the replication crisis in science

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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 By the time he came unstuck about 10 years ago, he had published around 200 articles – and 183 of them have been retracted because he had falsified the data.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.”

3 Replies to “The most serious outcome of the replication crisis in science

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    Well, I don’t know how things work on the Academic side, but on the Federal Bureaucracy side you CANNOT have a “problem” unless Lockheed or somebody has already developed THE solution. The problem then becomes a matter of getting a budget for as much as Lockheed wants. The problem is “solved” when the Government project office can’t get any more money budgeted for NEXT fiscal year. Whether or not the thing WORKS is irrelevant.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Research, bad or good, doesn’t guide behavior.

    What really happens is that government’s DESIRES steer research toward horrible conclusions. Government always WANTS to torture and kill everyone, and it funds bad research that justifies its desires.

    Until 2020, real science knew that torture and sieges were tools of crime and war, not tools of medicine. Nothing changed in the research. Real data analysis, even after March 2020, consistently agrees with pre-2020 medical findings. Torture and siege kill people and ruin health and immunity, which shouldn’t have been a surprise.

    The government’s DESIRE to torture and kill everyone has motivated fake research to “justify” the demonic desires.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    Mahuna @1,
    Ouch! I’m truly sorry to hear your description. It sounds about right.

    Polistra @2,
    And yet we’re supposed to “follow the science” even when “science” is being led by the nose by governmental agencies.

    But I still trust the U.S. government . . . I trust them to lie whenever it’s convenient, which is usually.

    -Q

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