Science, Bias, and Reproducibility

As noted in CEH’s article Science is Biased, there is quite a lot of selective skepticism going on in the scientific community:

Another glimpse at scientific bias is seen in Chris Woolston’s piece in Nature where he shows that scientists, many of whom pride themselves on their critical thinking, get emotional when caught failing to be skeptical of their own skepticism. This was occasioned by an editorial in which science writer John Horgan accused skeptics of only picking soft targets. That stung, leading to counter-tweets by scientists. But even PZ Myers, the arch-enemy of creationism and ID, saw some light. “What Horgan did was point out that there are a lot of things to be skeptical about, and skeptics have a peculiar fondness for picking the easiest targets.” That’s bias. But which scientists would be willing to doubt their own skepticism itself?

When is this going to end?

It won’t.

Instead, the credibility of science per se is going to get steadily worn down, accelerated with the reproducibility crisis:

The reproducibility crisis has been recognized for years (see keyword search).  Science Magazine lifted the lid on the crisis a little higher, showing how bad it is:

More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. Those are some of the telling figures that emerged from Nature’s survey of 1,576 researchers who took a brief online questionnaire on reproducibility in research.

This is a disaster in the making… an expensive disaster.

When this kind of thing costs lives, it will end.

Of course, when I say “cost lives”, I don’t mean third world lives. They have already suffered multi-millions of unnecessary deaths… and frankly, no one cares. See Being Green Means Never Saying You’re Sorry for Killing Millions, which focuses on the murderous fiasco that followed the banning of DDT.

No: I mean the lost of, say, 10,000 lives in the white West. (Japan and Korea don’t count, either.) A serious death toll in the West, tied directly to the failure of reproducibility and bias, will mean a sharp decline in the political support of science.

Throw in a major recession, and a need to cut back on everything outside of the most important welfare transfers (mainly medical care and pensions, to keep those votes bought), and that’s it for government-funded science.


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