News Philosophy Science

People believe what they need to believe …

Spread the love

From Nature:

If the British public likes chemistry — at least more than the chemists believed — then it is positively glowing about science in general. Survey respondents described it with words such as ‘welcoming’, ‘sociable’ and ‘fun’. And a separate poll by Ipsos MORI this year showed that scientists are among the most trusted professionals in Britain; some nine in ten people said that they trust scientists to follow all of the research rules and regulations relevant to them.

“Nine in ten people trust scientists to follow the rules. How many scientists would say the same?”

How many scientists would say the same? Not many, probably, of the attendees at this week’s 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As we report on page 14, attendees at the weekend discussed the latest high-profile case of scandal, fraud allegations and retraction. The attention drawn by the paper in question — discussing how views on same-sex marriage can be changed — prompted The New York Times to publish an editorial titled ‘Scientists who cheat’. That will not help to fill any void with positive images. More.

Some scientists do cheat, of course, just as some scientists drive too fast, take drugs and are unfaithful to their spouses. The reasons are complex and varied. With some exceptions, scientific organizations do not engage with the issue of misconduct as seriously as they should. Why would they, when public confidence and (moral and financial) support remains so high?

Follow UD News at Twitter!

4 Replies to “People believe what they need to believe …

  1. 1
    Roy says:

    Is there a point here?

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Something about scientists not being trustworthy. That’s the usual thrust of these OPs.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    Yes. Your bizarre propaganda has worked, Roy. I take it scientism is your thing, Roy, as well a Seversky’s.

    Actually, I’m sceptical of that finding. Firstly, because surveys are often, if not customarily, used to ‘manufacture consent’, framed in such a way as to elicit desired approval or disapproval from respondents, according to the wishes of the principal who funds the survey.

    Also, because respondents may often give answers they think the pollster would want to hear.

    And finally, plain ignorance. I don’t have a high opinion of science, myself, though in my schooldays I’d assume it to be the most honest of the disciplines.

    A little of that must have lingered, as I’d assumed that the peer-review system was probably as sound as one could find any system of evaluation to be. But when I learnt that there was a not inconsiderable chance that the judges would be low-lifes, guttersnipes, even to the extent of rejecting papers and then stealing the idea or ideas for their own use a little later, I was enraged.

    And while my own tertiary education was little better than risible, if I could be so naive, I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half the population were even more so.

  4. 4
    Roy says:

    Yes.

    Great. What is it? Does it apply ID research also?

    Your bizarre propaganda has worked, Roy. I take it scientism is your thing, Roy, as well a Seversky’s.

    That’s a lot to assume from five words.

    I see no-one has commented on a major fallacy in the Nature text – that the results of a survey of attitudes to scientists in the UK do not necessarily apply to scientists or their reputation elsewhere in the world.

    Roy

Leave a Reply