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Science’s growing pains? Or death throes?

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<em>Coffee</em> Tins From the Guardian:

Jerome Ravetz has been one of the UK’s foremost philosophers of science for more than 50 years. Here, he reflects on the troubles facing contemporary science. He argues that the roots of science’s crisis have been ignored for too long. Quality control has failed to keep pace with the growth of science.

Excuse us. That is not growing pains. That is systemic rot.

Under these harsh conditions, quality becomes instrumentalised. To strive for ‘excellence’ may be impractical; ‘impact’ is the name of the game. The self-sacrificing quest for scientific rigour is displaced by the need to jockey among journals, and perhaps also engage in p-hacking to obtain interesting results. Such conditions can go far to explain the distressing results that John Ionnidis first found a decade ago. But there is a deeper cause at work. Perhaps those who engage in what we might call ‘shoddy science’ or even ‘sleazy science’ don’t even know that it is sub-standard. The problem may have been building up for decades in the past, when standards gradually slipped and the basic skills of rigorous scientific work were allowed to atrophy. As evidence we have the current state of statistical practice, of which the best is as sophisticated and self-critical as possible, but where there is also much that is an insult.

But our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth, right? Or is that true?

Isn’t the real nature of the crisis the fact that accepting such fundamental beliefs dooms the system? Ravetz probably wouldn’t dare even raise such a question, which is why his concerns cannot have impact. …

None of these positive developments can guarantee the resolution of these new social problems of scientific knowledge, nor even the survival of science as we know it. More.

What will actually kill science, as Ravetz knows it, are movements like the war on falsifiability and the demand for non-evidence-based science. Countless pressure groups in science will soon demand the same exemptions as multiverse cosmologists, in the name of fairness and justice. It won’t be pretty

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See also: The war on falsifiability in science continues

The probability of the multiverse has been calculated!

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In search of a road to reality

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One Reply to “Science’s growing pains? Or death throes?

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    Is it worse then in the past? i say evolution is proof is was worse in the past. That getting by the censors was the great laugh.
    more people then ever are involved in ‘science’ and probably its just a function of a curve relative to numbers.
    I bet its better today then in the past.
    i do suspect in the previous centuries the exclusive upper class boys might have been sharper and nor the diversity takes this away.
    yet I still think its better today pound for pound.
    Smarter people do a smarter job.

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