As Graham Hillard explains in fact-filled article, awareness began decades ago:
Whatever their actual explanation, the failures that had dragged the hard and social sciences under the public’s microscope [by 2014] were stark indeed. According to the Reproducibility Project, a crowdsourced enterprise led by University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek in 2011, an attempt to replicate 100 key studies from three years prior resulted in a success rate of only 39%. Similarly distressing was the work of three Bayer scientists, that same year, examining reproducibility in oncology, women’s health, and cardiovascular disease. As stated in analyses eventually published in Nature, the Bayer team was unable to replicate nearly two-thirds of the external studies under review.Graham Hillard, “The science crisis” at Washington Examiner (April 28, 2022)
But has anything really changed?
To name just one of the horrifying discoveries made in recent months, a meta-study published in Science Advances found that unreplicable studies in top psychology and economics journals are cited more frequently than experiments that replicate. Furthermore, “only 12% of post-replication citations of nonreplicable findings acknowledge the replication failure.”
As has been widely remarked, the reproducibility crisis is not mere inside baseball but a matter of some urgency for a liberal order under fire from both the Left and Right. Until actual science gets its house in order, hysterical worship of “The Science” will remain exactly what it is today: an implausible posture that only emboldens those who would tear down America’s institutions.Graham Hillard, “The science crisis” at Washington Examiner (April 28, 2022)
Science is beginning to sound like the medieval church, actually. We are now moving on from keening to caterwauling. But nobody working on the inside can actually do anything about it.
Hillard is managing editor of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.