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Proposal to actually test cosmological ideas…

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soap bubbles/Timothy Pilgrim

Yeah, we almost fell off our chairs too.

Astrophysicist Thomas Kitching offers some ideas and a rationale at RealClearScience:

A study that surveyed all the published cosmological literature between the years 1996 and 2008 showed that the statistics of the results were too good to be true. In fact, the statistical spread of the results was not consistent with what would be expected mathematically, which means cosmologists were in agreement with each other – but to a worrying degree. This meant that either results were being tuned somehow to reflect the status-quo, or that there may be some selection effect where only those papers that agreed with the status-quo were being accepted by journals.

No kidding. Pigs fly backwards too?

Seriously, to avoid confirmation bias, he suggests, for example,

Blind analysis is the most straightforward and obvious thing to do, and has also been the most talked about. In this case the aim is to create data sets that have randomised or fake signals in them, where the scientists doing the cosmological analysis are blind – meaning do not know if they are working on the true data or the fake one.

Blind analysis, and control samples, are commonly and successfully used in biology for example. The problem in cosmology is that we have no control group, no control universe, just one, so any blind data has to be faked or randomised. Blind analysis has started to be used in cosmology, but it is not the end of the story.

In addition to blind analysis there are two further approaches that are less widely practised, but no less important. More.

What you think, readers?

See also: Multiverse cosmology: Assuming that evidence still matters, what does it say?


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Cosmology is an area of science that has to be reigned in. From crev.info a few years ago:
Naked brains floating in space, disconnected from reality – this describes the minds of some modern cosmologists, accused Dennis Overbye in a shocking article in the New York Times January 15. While attempting to be sympathetic to the smart guys who can cover a blackboard with equations about higher dimensions, it was clear he was about to call these guys nuts. His title: “Big brain theory: have cosmologists lost theirs?” Some of the ideas being seriously proposed by cosmologists include: disconnected observers in space (of which you might be one, imagining you really are here on Earth); universes bubbling off in all directions all the time; universes that make observers in a snap; reincarnation; and the possibility of a quantum fluctuation leading to a bang that would destroy us and the universe in a flash. If Bob Berman already thought cosmologists were clueless (see 09/29/2007, 10/06/2004), this article would surely push him over the edge. Overbye himself said, “If you are inclined to skepticism this debate might seem like further evidence that cosmologists, who gave us dark matter, dark energy and speak with apparent aplomb about gazillions of parallel universes, have finally lost their minds.” .... - See more at: http://crev.info/2008/01/ny_times_cosmologists_have_lost_their_brains/#sthash.KYHvaryn.dpuf
I secretly hoped that physicists were immune to the disease infecting medical and social sciences. I guess not. Evidently this applies to the hard sciences too:
Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo: "... inherent biases and the flawed statistical analyses built into most 'hypothesis driven' research, resulting in publications that largely represent 'accurate measures of the prevailing bias.'"
http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2014/07/13/bad-science-muckrakers-question-the-big-science-status-quo/ Jim Smith

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