Good news from Nobel Prize winner Dr. Randy Schekman.
Fred Singer told Joe Bast about Schekman’s declaration, and Joe provides the nice commentary here below.
Joe Bast, writer, editor, Exec of Heartland Inst., Chicago.
Randy Schekman says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort scientific process
This article reveals that leading scientists know that the “prestige” academic journals are biased in favor of flashy and politically correct research findings, even when such findings are frequently contradicted by subsequent research. This is important in the context of the global warming debate because Nature and Science have published the most alarmist and incredible junk on global warming and refuse to publish skeptics. (Full disclosure: Nature ran a negative editorial about us a few years back and a much better but still inaccurate feature story.) Claims of a “scientific consensus” rely heavily on the assumption that expertise can be measured by how often a scientist appears in one of these journals. Now we know that’s a lie.
Along these lines, I highly recommend a 2010 book titled “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us – And How to Know When Not to Trust Them,” by David H. Freedman, “a science and business journalist… contributing editor at Inc. magazine and has written for The Atlantic, Newsweek, NYT, Science, HBR, Fast Company, Wired, Self, and many other publications.”
He says experts can be wrong because…
1. Pandering to audience or client
2. Lack of oversight
3. Automaticity (assuming every problem has the same solution)
4. Flawed evidence (rely on other scientists for data)
5. Careerism (publish or perish, never admit mistakes)
6. Publication bias
7. Confounding variables
8. Conflicts of interest
He says we believe experts because we are predisposed to embrace people who espouse….
1. Certainty (absence of doubt)
2. Simple explanations (never more than three causes)
3. Universality (these factors/processes/principles apply to everything!)
4. Upbeat (good news)
5. Actionable (we can fix this)
6. Palatable solutions (we can afford to fix it)
7. Dramatic finding or insight (wow factor)
8. A compelling narrative (connects the dots)
9. Consensus (everyone believes this!)
Some excerpts from the book:
“In an anonymous survey conducted by Martinson and his colleagues and published in Nature in 2005, and responded to by some 3,200 researchers who had received funding from the National Institutes of Health, about one-third of participants admitted to at least one act of misconduct with regard to designing, conducting, interpreting, and reporting the results of studies within the previous three years. (pp. 106-7)
“In a 2000 survey of bio-statisticians, half said they personally knew of research studies that involved fraud, and of that group, about half went on to say that the fraud involved the fabrication of falsification of data.” (p. 107)
“…researchers need to publish impressive findings to keep their careers alive, and some seem unable to come up with those findings via honest work. Bear in mind that researchers who don’t publish well-regarded work typically don’t get tenure and are forced out of their institutions.” (p. 108)
“Perhaps more important, tenured researchers still have to bring in research funding, and the pressure to do so often considerably increases with tenure, since senior researchers sometimes have to take most of the responsibility for getting entire labs funded.” (p. 109)
“Back in 1989 economists at Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic research estimated that virtually all published economic papers are wrong, attributing this astoundingly dismal assessment to the effects of publication bias.” (p. 112)
“If a scientist wants to or expects to end up with certain results, he will likely achieve them, often through some form of fudging, whether conscious or not – bias exerts a sort of gravity over error, pulling the glitches in one direction, so that the errors tend to add up rather than cancel out.” (p. 114)
“Nature quoted the Princeton professor, Nobel laureate, and former Bell Labs researcher Philip Anderson as saying, ‘Nature’s editorial and refereeing policy seems to be influenced by the newsworthiness of the work, not necessarily its quality. and Science seems to be caught up in a similar syndrome.” (p. 119)
“Does the scientific community do anything effective to single out lousy research? Actually, yes – it makes sure that some of the worst research gets the most acclaim.” (pp. 122-23)
“Research by Dickers in and others suggests that on average positive studies are at least ten times more likely than negative studies to be submitted and accepted for publication.” (p. 123)
And Joe’s favorite:
“Many liberals, on the other hand, seem constitutionally incapable of giving fair consideration to, or in some cases even acknowledging, expert evidence and arguments (even if in the minority) that question whether we are really in the midst of a man-made global climate crisis.” (p. 78)
Nice comments from Joe.
Dr. Shekman is the real deal, just like Feynman.
The truth be told? I think so. Not enough said about the bias of the big journals and how they lack integrity and honesty.
Medical Journals, as another category of science publication, allow politically charged nonsense too much. For example the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association are too easy for EPA sponsored research based on weak epidemiology.
As an example, the published nonsense from the Samet air pollution crowd should never make it past the first layer of review since it invariably violates the the rules on causation and plausibility for observational epidemiological studies.
My goodness it’s about time some people start protesting on our favorite topic–junk science.