Is Science on the verge of a nervous breakdown ?

Posted: June 15, 2016 by oldbrew in alarmism, fraud, ideology, propaganda, research

Science under stress?[image credit:]

Science under stress?[image credit:]

The Financial Post’s Junk Science Week stirs up the debate.

Science is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Just about everything we take for granted in modern science, from the use of big data to computer models of major parts of our social, economic and natural environment and on to the often absurd uses of statistical methods to fish for predetermined conclusions.

Welcome to Financial Post Comment’s 18th annual Junk Science Week, dedicated to exposing the scientists, NGOs, activists, politicians, journalists, media outlets, cranks and quacks who manipulate science data to achieve their objectives.

Our standard definition over the years has been this: junk science occurs when scientific facts are distorted, risk is exaggerated and the science adapted and warped by politics and ideology to serve another agenda.

Much of our content over the past 18 years has focused less on science itself and more on the NGOs, politicians and others who have found it convenient to use and abuse science as a springboard to political action.

It is easy, perhaps too easy, to follow the empty-headed foibles of a media culture that mindlessly recycles reports that bacon may cause heart disease or that cell phones cause cancer. Less easy is dealing with the much bigger problem: the break down of science itself.

In The Guardian last week, Jerome Ravetz, considered one of the world’s leading philosophers of science, reviewed what he and many others describe as “the crisis in science.”

Ravetz, who has been warning of the emerging internal conflicts in science for decades, sees the crisis is spreading to the general public. “Given the public awareness that science can be low-quality or corrupted, that whole fields can be misdirected for decades (see nutrition, on cholesterol and sugar), and that some basic fields must progress in the absence of any prospect of empirical testing (string theory), the naïve realism of previous generations becomes quite Medieval in its irrelevance to present realities.”

Present reality is that science is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That’s the not-so-tongue-in-cheek message in Science on the Verge, a new book by European scientist Andrea Saltelli and seven other contributors. Science on the Verge is a 200-page indictment of what to the lay reader appears to be a monumental deterioration across all fields, from climate science to health research to economics.

The mere idea that “most published research results are false” should be cause for alarm. But it is worse than that. Just about everything we take for granted in modern science, from the use of big data to computer models of major parts of our social, economic and natural environment and on to the often absurd uses of statistical methods to fish for predetermined conclusions.

Examples from the book help prove the point. In a chapter titled “Numbers Running Wild,” one of the book’s authors, Jeroen P. van der Sluijs of the University of Bergen, asks how is it possible for a paper in Science magazine to claim that precisely 7.9 per cent (not eight per cent or seven per cent) of the world’s species would become extinct as a result of climate change — when the total number of species is unknown?

Even odder, the species study concluded that the 7.9 per cent demonstrates “the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.” How, asks van de Sluijs, do the researchers jump from species extinction to carbon sequestration? “This sounds like an opinion for which the underlying arguments are not even given.”

Source: Science Is On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

  1. catweazle666 says:

    to claim that precisely 7.9 per cent (not eight per cent or seven per cent)

    False precision syndrome strikes again!

    Did these people never go to school?

  2. oldbrew says:

    One of my old bosses used to brand these types of statements as ‘spurious accuracy’.

  3. Scute says:

    The next area to come crashing down around our ears is cometary theory. I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to persuade the Rosetta scientists that comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko has stretched from a single body into two lobes. This was via comments in the Rosetta blog and OSIRIS responded to them by doing a blog post pouring cold water on stretch theory. They said it’s unequivocally a contact binary whilst the paper that ‘proved’ this presented data that was wholly consistent with the stretch scenario that they hadn’t considered at all. The photos speak for themselves anyway and are unequivocal evidence for stretch (showing matches from head to body all round the comet).

    The problem is that their models simply don’t allow ‘brittle’ comets to stretch so they won’t even entertain the idea of bearing stretch in mind as a possibility. The models take precedence over looking carefully at the actual comet.

    The misguided assertion that 67P is a contact binary means that it had to have formed way further out in the Primordial Disk (so as not to have collided with anything before becoming a Jupiter Family Comet). Consequently, they’re poised to rewrite the formation history of the solar system, no less. This in turn will skew the dependent mechanisms that drove the formation and evolution of the Earth.

    Meanwhile, the Rosetta scientists are scratching their heads over a multitude of puzzling phenomena such as the utterly ripped-up ragged morphology; the low erosion rate as compared with predictions; explaining all the obvious tensile stress signatures in the neck as compression stress signatures from the supposed collision; citing a modelled collision that used bodies of less than a tenth the volume and mass of 67P, a quarter the approach speed and one eighth of the specific KE dissipation in the collision; two elaborate explanations for the weird ripples in the dust. One OSIRIS scientist said he was “finding this really tough”. That was 18 monthies ago and they’re no nearer an answer.

    But so far, they’ve done a fine job of brazening it through and burying their heads in the sand regarding stretch.

  4. oldbrew says:

    ‘a monumental deterioration across all fields, from climate science to health research to economics.’

    Enough said.

  5. Colin Brown says:

    John Brogden on Numberwatch has been banging on about this for years.He wrote to books about it .
    His site never got the attention it deserves.
    Also has a brilliant tribute to the late John Daly.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    When I was in High School in the early 1960s I visited the Physics Labs at Cal Berkeley and realized Science was broken. The Scientific Method that they were teaching was not logical!
    Their idea of research was that you postulated a theory, created an experiment to gain the evidence/ facts and then published a paper that demonstrated your discovered evidence /facts as proof that your theory was fact! Kind of like a cop that decides on guilt and then gathers evidence to prove his suspicions, ignoring everything that might lead elsewhere.

    Real science is the pursuit of knowledge or facts. Theory about how it fits together comes later and changes as new facts become available. Our modern system cements this early theory in place and then adds complications to the existing theories to explain new facts, or ignores them all together, rather then rebuilding their theories so that everything known fits or works together.


    This Modern Scientific Method is an incentive for fraud in research and leads to larger errors as citations to authority as proof in later logical arguments that are built upon them…pg

  7. Curious George says:

    I tried to validate the 7.9% claim scientifically. It should be 97% 🙂

  8. Curious George says:

    I like p.g.’s idea of science: A meticulous diary is the best science.

  9. Paul Vaughan says:

    Scute wrote:
    “The models take precedence over looking carefully at the actual comet.”

    The exact same thing happens in business.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. & George:

    Well, that’s the way I was taught it in high school. Note book to log data (mandatory fail for any erasure…line through corrections and explanatory note only). Then ponder and form thesis. Then test thesis. wash and repeat…

  11. John Silver says:

    They say science is dead,
    It shot itself in the head.