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High rate of “false discoveries” mars science

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From neuroscientist Simon Gandevia at The Conversation:

Spectacular failures to replicate key scientific findings have been documented of late, particularly in biology, psychology and medicine.

A report on the issue, published in Nature this May, found that about 90% of some 1,576 researchers surveyed now believe there is a reproducibility crisis in science.

One contributing factor is easily identified. It is the high rate of so-called false discoveries in the literature. They are false-positive findings and lead to the erroneous perception that a definitive scientific discovery has been made.

This high rate occurs because the studies that are published often have low statistical power to identify a genuine discovery when it is there, and the effects being sought are often small. More.

See also: Peer review unscientific: Tough words from Nature

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3 Replies to “High rate of “false discoveries” mars science

  1. 1
    aarceng says:

    One possible cause is the pressure to be first publish a “result”.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this comment from the article:

    The English philosopher Francis Bacon wrote almost 400 years ago that we are influenced more by affirmation than negatives and added:

    “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”

    Deep-seated cognitive biases, consciously and unconsciously, drive scientific corner-cutting in the name of discovery.

    and Karl Popper is smiling:

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

    Karl Popper’s Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf-sGqBsWv4

    Science as Falsification by Karl R. Popper
    Excerpt: These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, open your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refuse to see it,,,,
    It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.,,,
    4. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.,,,
    7. Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a “conventionalist twist” or a “conventionalist stratagem.”)
    One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.
    https://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/liu10/files/2010/08/KPopper_Falsification.pdf

    As Popper, (and apparently Bacon before him), held, science is much more about a theory surviving concerted attempts at falsifying it than it is about at finding examples that support your theory.

    Darwinists are notorious for looking only at the evidence that seems to support their theory and basically just hand waving off, or simply ignoring, any evidence that runs counter to, and even falsifies, their theory.

    “Being an evolutionist means there is no bad news. If new species appear abruptly in the fossil record, that just means evolution operates in spurts. If species then persist for eons with little modification, that just means evolution takes long breaks. If clever mechanisms are discovered in biology, that just means evolution is smarter than we imagined. If strikingly similar designs are found in distant species, that just means evolution repeats itself. If significant differences are found in allied species, that just means evolution sometimes introduces new designs rapidly. If no likely mechanism can be found for the large-scale change evolution requires, that just means evolution is mysterious. If adaptation responds to environmental signals, that just means evolution has more foresight than was thought. If major predictions of evolution are found to be false, that just means evolution is more complex than we thought.”
    ~ Cornelius Hunter

    To reiterate, ‘good’ science is based on testability and falsification

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    – Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003

    The main reason that Darwinian theory can offer nothing in comparison to quantum electrodynamics or general relativity is because it has no demarcation criteria based in mathematics to make it a testable theory like quantum electrodynamics and general relativity have a demarcation criteria based in math so as to make them testable and potentially falsifiable.

    Deeper into the Royal Society Evolution Paradigm Shift Meeting – 02/08/2016
    Suzan Mazur: Peter Saunders in his interview comments to me said that neo-Darwinism is not a theory, it’s a paradigm and the reason it’s not a theory is that it’s not falsifiable.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....84812.html
    Peter Saunders is Co-Director, Institute of Science in Society, London; Emeritus professor of Applied Mathematics, King’s College London.
    Peter Saunders has been applying mathematics in biology for over 40 years, in microbiology and physiology as well as in development and evolution. He has been a critic of neo-Darwinism for almost as long.
    http://www.thethirdwayofevolut.....r-saunders

    “For many years I thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have a proof that Darwinian evolution works.”
    Gregory Chaitin – Proving Darwin 2012 – Highly Respected Mathematician

    Evolution is Missing a Mathematical Formula
    Excerpt: Virtually all scientists acknowledge that mathematics is the real language of science. Every theory uses words to describe and postulate the theory, but the true test of a theory is numbers and mathematics. It is numbers and mathematical formulae that distinguish true science from hocus-pocus.,,,
    Every scientific theory that has been promoted to the status of being a scientific law has been quantified and/or embodied into one or more mathematical formulae that make accurate predictions.
    But no scientist has been able to derive any working formula from the Theory of Evolution and no one has been able to quantify its dictums. Millions of scientists have tried to quantify the Theory of Evolution and they have all failed to do so.
    http://darwinconspiracy.com/article_1_rev2.php

    The primary reason why no scientist has been able ‘quantify its dictums’ is because there are no known laws of nature for Darwinists to appeal to to base their math on. In other words, there is no known ‘law of evolution’, such as there is a ‘law of gravity’, within the physical universe for Darwinists to base their math on:

    The Evolution of Ernst: Interview with Ernst Mayr – 2004
    Excerpt: biology (Darwinian Evolution) differs from the physical sciences in that in the physical sciences, all theories, I don’t know exceptions so I think it’s probably a safe statement, all theories are based somehow or other on natural laws. In biology, as several other people have shown, and I totally agree with them, there are no natural laws in biology corresponding to the natural laws of the physical sciences.,,,
    And so that’s what I do in this book. I show that the theoretical basis, you might call it, or I prefer to call it the philosophy of biology, has a totally different basis than the theories of physics.
    per “Scientific American”

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Evolution is True – Roger Highfield – January 2014
    Excerpt:,,, Whatever the case, those universal truths—’laws’—that physicists and chemists all rely upon appear relatively absent from biology.
    Little seems to have changed from a decade ago when the late and great John Maynard Smith wrote a chapter on evolutionary game theory for a book on the most powerful equations of science: his contribution did not include a single equation.
    http://www.edge.org/response-detail/25468

    In fact, not only does Darwinian Evolution not have any universal physical law to appeal to as other overarching theories of science have, Entropy, a law with great mathematical explanatory power in science, almost directly contradicts Darwinian claims that increases in functional information and/or complexity can be easily had.

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – preeminent Chemist of the first half of last century

    “Is there a real connection between entropy in physics and the entropy of information? ….The equations of information theory and the second law are the same, suggesting that the idea of entropy is something fundamental…”
    Siegfried, Dallas Morning News, 5/14/90, [Quotes Robert W. Lucky, Ex. Director of Research, AT&T, Bell Laboratories & John A. Wheeler, of Princeton & Univ. of TX, Austin]

    Here is a lecture video based on Granville Sewell’s 2011 paper from the book Biocomplexity (A book, and paper, both of which some Darwinists, Nick Matzke in particular, had tried to prevent from ever being published)

    Biological Information – Entropy, Evolution and Open Systems 11-15-2014 by Paul Giem – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_G9HtsfXfs

    The Common Sense Law of Physics Granville Sewell – March 2016
    Excerpt: (The) “compensation” argument, used by every physics text which discusses evolution and the second law to dismiss the claim that what has happened on Earth may violate the more general statements of the second law, was the target of my article “Entropy, Evolution, and Open Systems,” published in the proceedings of the 2011 Cornell meeting Biological Information: New Perspectives (BINP).
    In that article, I showed that the very equations of entropy change upon which this compensation argument is based actually support, on closer examination, the common sense conclusion that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is isolated, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable.” The fact that order can increase in an open system does not mean that computers can appear on a barren planet as long as the planet receives solar energy. Something must be entering our open system that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable, for example: computers.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02725.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    With no rigid demarcation criteria based in math you simply can’t ever straight out refute Darwinian evolution by empirical observation! And as such, Darwinian evolution is more realistically classified as a pseudo-science, along the lines of tea leaf reading, rather than as a real science.

    “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.”
    – Jerry A. Coyne – Of Vice and Men, The New Republic April 3, 2000 p.27 – professor of Darwinian evolution at the University of Chicago

    And whereas Darwinian evolution has no known law of nature to appeal to so as to establish itself as a proper, testable, science, (in fact the second law almost directly contradicts evolution), Intelligent Design does not suffer from such an embarrassing disconnect from physical reality.

    In other words, Intelligent Design can appeal directly to ‘the laws of conservation of information’ in order to establish itself as a proper, testable, and rigorous science.

    Conservation of information, evolution, etc – Sept. 30, 2014
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel’s logical objection to Darwinian evolution:
    “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components. The complexity of the living things has to be present within the material [from which they are derived] or in the laws [governing their formation].”
    Gödel – As quoted in H. Wang. “On `computabilism’ and physicalism: Some Problems.” in Nature’s Imagination, J. Cornwall, Ed, pp.161-189, Oxford University Press (1995).
    Gödel’s argument is that if evolution is unfolding from an initial state by mathematical laws of physics, it cannot generate any information not inherent from the start – and in his view, neither the primaeval environment nor the laws are information-rich enough.,,,
    More recently this led him (Dembski) to postulate a Law of Conservation of Information, or actually to consolidate the idea, first put forward by Nobel-prizewinner Peter Medawar in the 1980s. Medawar had shown, as others before him, that in mathematical and computational operations, no new information can be created, but new findings are always implicit in the original starting points – laws and axioms.,,,
    http://potiphar.jongarvey.co.u.....ution-etc/

    Evolutionary Computing: The Invisible Hand of Intelligence – June 17, 2015
    Excerpt: William Dembski and Robert Marks have shown that no evolutionary algorithm is superior to blind search — unless information is added from an intelligent cause, which means it is not, in the Darwinian sense, an evolutionary algorithm after all. This mathematically proven law, based on the accepted No Free Lunch Theorems, seems to be lost on the champions of evolutionary computing. Researchers keep confusing an evolutionary algorithm (a form of artificial selection) with “natural evolution.” ,,,
    Marks and Dembski account for the invisible hand required in evolutionary computing. The Lab’s website states, “The principal theme of the lab’s research is teasing apart the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.” So yes, systems can evolve, but when they appear to solve a problem (such as generating complex specified information or reaching a sufficiently narrow predefined target), intelligence can be shown to be active. Any internally generated information is conserved or degraded by the law of Conservation of Information.,,,
    What Marks and Dembski (mathematically) prove is as scientifically valid and relevant as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem in mathematics. You can’t prove a system of mathematics from within the system, and you can’t derive an information-rich pattern from within the pattern.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....96931.html

    Active Information in Metabiology – Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II – 2013
    Except page 9: Chaitin states [3], “For many years I have thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have proof that Darwinian evolution works.” In fact, mathematics has consistently demonstrated that undirected Darwinian evolution does not work.,,
    Consistent with the laws of conservation of information, natural selection can only work using the guidance of active information, which can be provided only by a designer.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2013.4

    And this makes Intelligent Design highly testable and therefore very much ‘scientific’ in the Popperian sense of falsifiability

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 3 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/

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