Science

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 10

Featured image Time to update our series on science fraud from a few months ago, with news of a blockbuster research review effort that is making waves this week. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today: A decade ago, John P.A. Ioannidis published a provocative and much-discussed paper arguing that most published research findings are false. It’s starting to look like he was right. The results of the Reproducibility Project are in, »

How Many Scientists Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

Featured image The answer to this gag seems increasingly to be: Nearly all of them. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on the growing trend of listing dozens and dozens of co-authors on scientific papers, presumably because it conveys authority (97 percent!) and thoroughness. In some cases the number of listed co-authors for journal articles tops 1,000: In fact, there has been a notable spike since 2009 in the number of technical »

The Eight Stages of Scam

Featured image Taking note of the fact that the long-held conventional wisdom about cholesterol has been overturned, the proprietor of the wonderfully named Barrel Strength blog over in the UK offers up the “Eight Stages of Scam” as applied to climate change. This one is worth marking down: The cholesterol scam bears a strong relationship to the anthropogenic global warming scam. 1) it is propagated by scientists on a non-scientific mission. 2) »

1,000-Year-Old Saxon Remedy Kills Superbugs

Featured image This may not be the biggest news story of the day, but it must be the most curious. As you are no doubt aware, there is great concern over resistance to conventional antibiotics. “Superbugs” are developing that are not easily killed with known medicines. So someone at the University of Nottingham, in England, thought to try an ancient remedy: a salve for eye infections found in Bald’s Leechbook, a 10th »

It’s not easy going green: A comment

Featured image A reader who must remain deep under cover writes to comment on Kathy Kersten’s column “It’s not easy going green.” He writes: Dear Mr. Johnson As a professor in the natural sciences, I get a lot of sustainability emails – and have sometimes seen the linkage between white patriarchiality and our lack of sustainability – the technology of the other cultures was always in harmony with nature (tell it to »

Who Turned the Crazy Machine Up to 11?

Featured image It’s almost impossible to keep up with the crazy this week. It’s causing my “Week in Pictures” compass to spin like a top, almost as if the Earth’s magnetic polarity was flipping out. (Oh, wait. . .) First, we have the utterly predictable—but still fully absurd—story out of Spokane, Washington, that the local head of the NAACP is in fact a white woman. What the heck, if Elizabeth Warren and »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 9

Featured image Nature magazine reports today: Irreproducible Biology Research Costs Put at $28 Billion Per Year Scientists in the United States spend $28 billion each year on basic biomedical research that cannot be repeated successfully. That is the conclusion of a study published on 9 June in PLoS Biology1 that attempts to quantify the causes, and costs, of irreproducibility. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University in California who studies scientific robustness, says that »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 8

Featured image You just knew the New York Times editorial page would get around to sharing its deep wisdom about the problem of science fraud in the news right now, and sure enough, their utterly predictable editorial is predictably stupid in ways that are statistically certain to the 95 percent confidence level. How’s this for penetrating analysis: How could this happen? Often a young researcher, driven by the academic imperative to “publish »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 7

Featured image New York magazine has a terrific piece up this weekend that tells the whole story of how the Green-LaCour Science magazine article on changing support for gay marriage by way of a canvas was exposed as a fraud—by another graduate student. It’s a long piece, but worth an extra-grande latte and a good slow read. In addition to the details of the fraud itself—which involved LaCour fabricating emails with a »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 6

Featured image Did any readers take note of the recent stories appearing in the news media that eating chocolate is actually good for weight loss, such as the June issue of Shape magazine which ran an article entitled “Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily”? Yesterday on the science website io9.com, German molecular biologist Johannes Bohannon explained how he pulled it off with a statistically weak study that several science journals accepted with »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 5

Featured image We began this new occasional series with the story of the Science magazine study about how people changed their mind on gay marriage based on a short conversations with a real live gay people, but in which the data was faked by the graduate student co-author, Michael LaCour. It now appears that LaCour, whose pending appointment at Princeton based on his work is in doubt, made up more than just »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 4

Featured image Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, the pre-eminent medical journal that was stung by one of the worst science frauds of the last decade (Andrew Wakefield’s phony vaccine-autism link paper), has a fascinating note reporting on the conversations at a recent conference of scientists in the UK about the problems of scientific review. A few of his statements are genuinely eye-popping: “A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 3

Featured image Our first installment in this series took note of the NY Times op-ed by Adam Marcus, managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, and Ivan Oransky, global editorial director of MedPage Today (both are co-founders of retractionwatch.com), but now they’re back with another, longer piece at Nautilus that goes into more detail, and offers more shocking examples (such as the Japanese scientist who fabricated a whopping 183 papers that got »

Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 2

Featured image We’ve been following the story of the apparently fraudulent article in Science about whether people will change their mind about gay marriage after a short conversation with a real live gay person (I guess watching Will & Grace and Modern Family reruns just doesn’t quite do the trick), as well as yesterday’s excellent op-ed in the NY Times about the pervasive problem of scientific journals and media credulity. Tomorrow’s New York Times »

Science and Scientism, Revisited

Featured image Steve wrote an important essay here a couple of weeks ago, titled Science Versus Scientism. Ken Haapala, President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, leads off this week’s The Week That Was with an appreciation of Steve’s post: Science and Scientism: One of the chosen ones for the political witch hunt, Steven Hayward wrote a short essay differentiating between the practice of science, which can be described as objectively »

John Nash, RIP

Featured image Sad news this morning of the car accident death, at age 86, of Nobel Prize winning economist and mathematician John Nash, made more publicly famous (if not entirely accurately) in A Beautiful Mind. A psychiatrist friend posted the following note on Facebook about the news: Let me try, surely in vain, to set the record straight as there are so many subtle but horrifying myths that the Left has created »

Behind Science Fraud

Featured image We reported here the other day about the latest fraudulent article in Science magazine, but don’t miss the op-ed about the broader problem of science fraud in today’s New York Times by Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky (who is one of the founders of RetractionWatch). Here’s the most relevant excerpt: Science fetishizes the published paper as the ultimate marker of individual productivity. And it doubles down on that bias with »