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Thread: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    The thread title is lifted directly from this article. I didn't see any way to improve on it.

    Various factors contribute to the problem. Statistical mistakes are widespread. The peer reviewers who evaluate papers before journals commit to publishing them are much worse at spotting mistakes than they or others appreciate. Professional pressure, competition and ambition push scientists to publish more quickly than would be wise. A career structure which lays great stress on publishing copious papers exacerbates all these problems. “There is no cost to getting things wrong,” says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia who has taken an interest in his discipline’s persistent errors. “The cost is not getting them published.”
    So apparently, scientists are susceptible to peer pressure and peer-review of studies is an unreliable method of catching errors as they don't take the time to work out all the supporting math.

    Here's another article I read that serves as a case in point. A man in early retirement decided he wanted to take up psychology. In class when he was taught about the widely accepted idea of positive psychology....
    According to the graph, it all came down to a specific ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions. If your ratio was greater than 2.9013 positive emotions to 1 negative emotion you were flourishing in life. If your ratio was less than that number you were languishing.

    It was as simple as that. The mysteries of love, happiness, fulfilment, success, disappointment, heartache, failure, experience, random luck, environment, culture, gender, genes, and all the other myriad ingredients that make up a human life could be reduced to the figure of 2.9013.
    The student was skeptical of that ratio and looked into it more.... and he couldn't get the math to add up. So he contacted a hotshot mathematician to go over the formulas for him. Turns out, it was complete and utter crap....
    The Lorenz equation Losada used was from fluid dynamics," says Sokal, "which is not the field that I'm specialised in, but it's elementary enough that any mathematician or physicist knows enough. In 10 seconds I could see it was total bullshit. Nick had written a very long critique and basically it was absolutely right. There were some points where he didn't quite get the math right but essentially Nick had seen everything that was wrong with the Losada and Fredrickson paper."
    Losada was the mathematician the original study's author, Fredrickson used to work out her ratio. So what was her reaction to be proven wrong?
    Barbara Frederickson, associate editor of American Psychology, accepts the errors in the maths that Nick Brown pointed out, but still stands by her theory of positivity.
    So, the formula supporting her argument was total garbage.... but she still maintains she's right.

    Basically, the theory was so well-received and took off so fast that no one in the field had the mathematical expertise of the courage to challenge it. It took a newcomer who wasn't concerned about ruining his career (he was already retired) to challenge it.


    Ever wonder why there seems to be so many seemingly contradictory or counter-intuitive studies coming out and grabbing the headlines? Yeah...
    Last edited by Xiahou; 01-20-2014 at 14:24.
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    And yet we are supposed to adhere to the constant appeals to authority in regard to global warming... What a mess.

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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    No, we believe in global warming because (as quoted from a fellow named YinzerJim) "the fossil fuel industry is the biggest, most lucrative industry on the planet - if all the World's Climate Scientists are turning up their noses at THAT MUCH money, you know something bad is happening."
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    And yet we are supposed to adhere to the constant appeals to authority in regard to global warming... What a mess.
    The problems with science are mostly in the heavily-commercialized industry-linked sectors, namely biotechnology and experimental psychology. The point being that when discussing "science" as an institution, it is appropriate to be aware that it is heterogeneous with respect to many factors, including fundamental focus. That one field of science may have its problems does not automatically condemn every other field of science.

    As for authority claims, the only lesson to be drawn here is what we already knew, which is to not take sensational claims based on very little research at face value. So, if you skim through a pop-psych article on CNN that goes, 'a study/experiment shows that...', be suspicious. But that's nothing surprising.

    As for global warming, well, in that case you'd be dismissing not isolated studies or potentially-shoddy research but literally an entire field of scientific endeavour, so that you might as well dismiss the accumulated human knowledge of human anatomy, or even classical mechanics.
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Excellent title!

    As for the content itself, I am perfectly happy to blame it all on post-modernism. Especially as the article points out a lack of mathematical knowledge. Is there a single post-modernist capable of doing multiplication with multiple digits?

    Also: remember that bibliography you have to write at the end of papers? Make it large, and then slap a few 1000+ page tomes on it. Do that, and now you can write whatever you want and claim "famous guy X said so". Noone is going to read your sources anyway. For extra hilarity, use a reference style which doesn't include page numbers, like APA.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    A lot can't simply be taken seriously, a lot of respected 'scientists' in Dutchland have been exposed for using false data, often just made up. I believe (social&enviromental) scientific studies just as much as I trust quality newspapers and state-television. Not at all.

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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    The problem is that your skill as a scientist (and therefore the amount of money you can get) is based on the number of articles you publish and the number of times they've been quoted. Self quoting counts.

    Basically the pruning becomes that people will do their own tests of more popular articles or that only those doing pretty much the same thing (and thus knows a lot about the subject) will read the articles.
    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Another big problem is that people want to do something big and new rather than the boring-but-necessary work of checking other people's research, or they want to find positive results and ignore negative results - though there are more false positives than false negatives.
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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    While I am certain there sensationalists and dubious researches, dismissing an entire field because of that is akin to saying that only poor people live in Monaco because you saw a few homeless people sleeping on the benches.

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    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarmatian View Post
    While I am certain there sensationalists and dubious researches, dismissing an entire field because of that is akin to saying that only poor people live in Monaco because you saw a few homeless people sleeping on the benches.
    Also, the scientific method is the most rigorously tested method we have. The issue isn't the method, but making sure it's implemented properly. Competing methods, even if done to their utmost, are nowhere near as reliable.

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    It's what happens when you apply capitalism to science and use simple CEO-worthy metrics to measure it when you're supposed to use your brain.
    It's pretty much why I think all the ratings where US universities come out on top do not say much about what the students actually learn. That's not to say US universities aren't good, it's to say that someone who studies mathematics in Paris won't be worse than someone who studies mathematics in Harvard just because Harvard makes a whole lot more money with their research or gets quoted more often. Not to forget that these things become self-perpetuating as long as people think you can measure intelligence or ingenuity in numbers.

    I'm pretty stupid for example but I get a good grade once in a while even though some internet test rated my IQ at 240.


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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    240? IQ tests don't go any further than 160. They are useless anyway, I scored between 78 and 149 on different tests, quite a gap. People shouldn't take university and IQ tests all that seriously.
    Last edited by Fragony; 01-20-2014 at 12:19.

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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    240? IQ tests don't go any further than 160. They are useless anyway, I scored between 78 and 149 on different tests, quite a gap. People shouldn't take university and IQ tests all that seriously.
    Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there. Aren't you always quick to bring up the allegedly low IQs of Palestinians whenever the topic of Israel comes up?
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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there. Aren't you always quick to bring up the allegedly low IQs of Palestinians whenever the topic of Israel comes up?
    Just because you see them doesn't mean they actually exist.

    Edit, you do got a point though, but I take it broader than that.
    Last edited by Fragony; 01-20-2014 at 12:49.

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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    And yet we are supposed to adhere to the constant appeals to authority in regard to global warming... What a mess.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    http://jamespowell.org/

    Of course one can always dismiss science when it goes against one's favorite religion and/or news outlet and/or political ideology or if conspiracies is your thing.

    The above examples can be dismissed too because it involved even more scientists, so you can easily forget this post if it ruins your sleep.

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
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    http://jamespowell.org/

    Of course one can always dismiss science when it goes against one's favorite religion and/or news outlet and/or political ideology or if conspiracies is your thing.

    The above examples can be dismissed too because it involved even more scientists, so you can easily forget this post if it ruins your sleep.
    Obvious example of groupthink.

    That was easy.


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    Dragonslayer Emeritus Senior Member Sigurd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Yeah...
    When we can grow wheat on Greenland, we'll be back to normal. Or was that palm trees on Spitsbergen? I am confused.
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Also, the scientific method is the most rigorously tested method we have. The issue isn't the method, but making sure it's implemented properly. Competing methods, even if done to their utmost, are nowhere near as reliable.
    Science, including the scientific method, is not about discovering truth. It is about slowly eliminating as many errors as possible.

    This thread is a sign that science is working, not that it doesn't.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    Yeah...
    When we can grow wheat on Greenland, we'll be back to normal. Or was that palm trees on Spitsbergen? I am confused.
    Svalbard is of course a relocated Atlantis. It didn't sink in the ocean, it merely teleported north.

    That makes as much sense as Greenland being green and global warming being a myth.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    ...That makes as much sense as Greenland being green and global warming being a myth.
    Greenland does seem to have been nice for cattle and sheep. Evidence so far has only found barley. How widespread such production was is not clear though, only that it was pretty much gone by mid 13th century and I guess it could have been much earlier if we go by Northern Iceland (gone by early 12th century)

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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    Greenland does seem to have been nice for cattle and sheep. Evidence so far has only found barley. How widespread such production was is not clear though, only that it was pretty much gone by mid 13th century and I guess it could have been much earlier if we go by Northern Iceland (gone by early 12th century)
    The medieval viking farms of Greenland were conveniently located........at the site of present-day farms on Greenland.

    Yeah, that disproved global warming alright.

    And we're as confident as we can be on the locations. Greenland is arctic, and things rarely disappear from arctic soil.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    The medieval viking farms of Greenland were conveniently located........at the site of present-day farms on Greenland.

    Yeah, that disproved global warming alright.

    And we're as confident as we can be on the locations. Greenland is arctic, and things rarely disappear from arctic soil.
    Really?
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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    Yeah, that disproved global warming alright.
    Just because Greenland had a bit milder climate back then does obviously not disprove AGW.

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    Dragonslayer Emeritus Senior Member Sigurd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HoreTore View Post
    The medieval viking farms of Greenland were conveniently located........at the site of present-day farms on Greenland.
    It is quite a difference between managing grain crops and sheep fodder. I believe Greenland can't sustain any type of grain today as it couldn't after the 1300s. Not using this in any way to disprove global warming. Right should be right.
    Greenland's artic summers aren't long enough for grain to mature and be harvested.
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    It is quite a difference between managing grain crops and sheep fodder. I believe Greenland can't sustain any type of grain today as it couldn't after the 1300s. Not using this in any way to disprove global warming. Right should be right.
    Greenland's artic summers aren't long enough for grain to mature and be harvested.
    Greenland's summers are about the same length as the summers in Northern Norway, another area not known to be packed with grain farms. Of course, all the grain grown in Northern Norway is used for animal fodder, as the quality is quite inferior. But then again, nearly all the grain grown in Norway is used for fodder as opposed to human consumption. With Greenland's climate being a little worse combined with fertile areas being much rarer, it makes absolutely no commercial sense whatsoever to grow grain on Greenland today. It doesn't in Northern Norway(really, almost all of Norway) either, but our tendency to throw billions at anyone seen driving a tractor makes it a bit more viable.

    But back in the viking days, it wasn't about producing a viable and profitable product; it was simply about getting something you would otherwise not have. If those conditions were present today as well, I'd bet we'd see a grain patch or two on Greenland. Remember, the grain grown was only a supplement to a diet based on other types of food and intended for an extremely tiny population.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    Just because Greenland had a bit milder climate back then does obviously not disprove AGW.
    Of course not, especially since Greenland's warm period is considered a local rather than a regional(not to mention global) event(as in, it was hotter than other places in the North Atlantic), and warm climate close to the arctic circle is mostly driven by ocean currents anyway.

    Still doesn't stop denialists from using it as the "ultimate proof of green lobby cryptocommunists hell-bent on world domination", though. Just goes to show the level of "intelligence" present in the denialist camp, I guess...
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

  27. #27

    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
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    http://jamespowell.org/

    Of course one can always dismiss science when it goes against one's favorite religion and/or news outlet and/or political ideology or if conspiracies is your thing.

    The above examples can be dismissed too because it involved even more scientists, so you can easily forget this post if it ruins your sleep.
    This is exactly the kind of derisive appeal to authority to which I was referring. How many of those scientists are utilizing complicated statistical modelling programs that they do not fully understand? How many are building on prior research that has not been fully proved out due to a hesitation to question authority and/or spend precious grant dollars to replicate research for which someone else has already gotten credit? How many do you think consider the likelihood of being published and quoted before selecting study topics and/or endeavoring to prove this stuff out? How many are reluctant to undergo the kind mocking attacks against their intellectual capacity and/or integrity that you just demonstrated? How many are friends, err, colleagues, and attend the same conferences, lectures, and social events; in other words, how many have vested interest in maintaining the status quo? Is anyone even asking these questions?

    Climate science is a joke compared to medical research, and if this stuff is going on in the latter, it is most assuredly going on in the former especially considering the already-shaky modelling that is so heavily relied on. By throwing around labels such as 'denialist' and casting aspersions on people's motivations as you demonstrated above, the field has essentially insulated itself from a vigorous application of the scientific method. It has become only acceptable to publish within a certain box. You may see it as proof positive that only 1 out of 9136 authors rejected man made global warming, but I see it as a big red flag. Be careful not to become the kind of zealot you mock.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 01-21-2014 at 00:37.

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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    Greenland does seem to have been nice for cattle and sheep. Evidence so far has only found barley. How widespread such production was is not clear though, only that it was pretty much gone by mid 13th century and I guess it could have been much earlier if we go by Northern Iceland (gone by early 12th century)
    The medieval warming period ended about 1250 CE.
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  29. #29

    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    You can't deny pure observation that easily. You wouldn't say that the scientific consensus that humans have two arms and two legs is suspect by virtue of social bias, after all.

    That's where the existence of global warming stands right now.

    I also notice that you don't seem to provide any conditions under which global warming, or indeed any subject of scientific investigation, could be considered validated in any way.
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scientific Research Is Unreliable, Unreliable Scientists Report

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    This is exactly the kind of derisive appeal to authority to which I was referring. How many of those scientists are utilizing complicated statistical modelling programs that they do not fully understand? How many are building on prior research that has not been fully proved out due to a hesitation to question authority and/or spend precious grant dollars to replicate research for which someone else has already gotten credit? How many do you think consider the likelihood of being published and quoted before selecting study topics and/or endeavoring to prove this stuff out? How many are reluctant to undergo the kind mocking attacks against their intellectual capacity and/or integrity that you just demonstrated? How many are friends, err, colleagues, and attend the same conferences, lectures, and social events; in other words, how many have vested interest in maintaining the status quo? Is anyone even asking these questions?

    Climate science is a joke compared to medical research, and if this stuff is going on in the latter, it is most assuredly going on in the former especially considering the already-shaky modelling that is so heavily relied on. By throwing around labels such as 'denialist' and casting aspersions on people's motivations as you demonstrated above, the field has essentially insulated itself from a vigorous application of the scientific method. It has become only acceptable to publish within a certain box. You may see it as proof positive that only 1 out of 9136 authors rejected man made global warming, but I see it as a big red flag. Be careful not to become the kind of zealot you mock.
    I've already mentioned groupthink...

    But how do you even know all these facts about their social circumstances?
    Do you stalk climate scientists or are you just guessing?


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