Shoddy Science and Publishing Incentives

“The cultural evolution of shoddy science in response to publication incentives requires no conscious strategising, cheating, or loafing on the part of individual researchers,” Smaldino writes in The Conversation.

“There will always be researchers committed to rigorous methods and scientific integrity. But as long as institutional incentives reward positive, novel results at the expense of rigour, the rate of bad science, on average, will increase.”

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‘Fingerprint’ Of Global Warming Doesn’t Exist

“These analysis results would appear to leave very, very little doubt but that EPA’s claim of a Tropical Hot Spot (THS), caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels, simply does not exist in the real world,” reads the report by economist James Wallace, climatologist John Christy and meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo.

“Also critically important, even on an all-other-things-equal basis, this analysis failed to find that the steadily rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have had a statistically significant impact on any of the 13 critically important temperature time series analyzed,” they wrote.

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Caravan To Midnight – Episode 234 Former Space Program Advisor & Shuttle Engineer John L. Casey – discusses climate models, global warming and cooling, etc.:

Sex and Gender Identity Science

Findings from a new study on sex and gender identity published in the Fall 2016 edition of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society:

1. Claims that sexual orientation is immutably determined by biology are not supported by scientific evidence.

2. Claims that gender identity is somehow fixed and innate, yet is also independent of biological sex, are likewise not supported by scientific evidence.

3. Since the great majority of children who experience some gender-atypical thoughts do not continue to do so after adolescence, encouraging such children to become transgender or seek invasive and sometimes drastic and irreversible medical procedures is not supported by scientific evidence.

4. The finding that non-heterosexual and transgender individuals have higher rates of mental health problems is supported by scientific evidence, while the common attribution of such findings to the effects of social stigma or stress as the only or primary cause is not supported by scientific data.

Richard N. Williams, PhD, commenting on this study:

Clearly, common cultural beliefs about sexuality and gender are wrapped up in a problematic, incoherent, and internally inconsistent understanding of what it means to be a human being. On the basis of Mayer and McHugh’s report, we may fairly conclude that a fundamental reexamination of how we think about sexuality and gender is in order. Perhaps we ought to reexamine our vision of the human person as well.

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MY GENES MADE ME DO IT ! Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence by Dr NE Whitehead, PhD,

Way Too Many False Positives

From a July 2016 article:

“A whole pile of “this is how your brain looks like” fMRI-based science has been potentially invalidated because someone finally got around to checking the data…

When you see a claim that “scientists know when you’re about to move an arm: these images prove it”, they’re interpreting what they’re told by the statistical software.

Now, boffins from Sweden and the UK have cast doubt on the quality of the science, because of problems with the statistical software: it produces way too many false positives.”

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Marijuana and the Brain

A new study showing that marijuana negatively affects the brain over time:

A world-first study has identified how cannabis can damage brain circuits to cause significant long-term damage…

New research reveals marijuana unnecessarily trims the connections that form these circuits [for short-term memory, impacting long-term memory], leading to gaps.

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Harvard, Sugar, and Heart Disease

More evidence that science is not the objective bastion of truth that so many think it is today:

The sugar industry paid prestigious Harvard scientists to publish research saying fat – not sugar – was a key cause of heart disease, newly unveiled documents reveal.

At the time, in the 1960s, conflict of interest disclosure was not required.

It meant sugar chiefs could work closely with researchers to re-draft and re-draft their paper until it was ‘satisfactory’ – without having to report their involvement.

The result shaped public health approaches to nutrition for years.

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The Only Vetting The Papers Get

As a scientist with a 15 year career behind me so far, I am afraid that my experiences reflect this. Peer review is excellent in theory but not in practice. Much of the time, the only vetting the papers get are two relatively junior people in a field (often grad students or postdocs) giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down. That is absolutely it. In theory, the editors should make the decisions with the recommendations of the reviewers, but the editors rarely have the time or the expertise to judge the papers and often automatically defer to reviewers. Also, the papers should be reviewed by luminaries of the field, but these folks rarely have the time, and either decline invitations or bounce the work to a student or another trainee. It’s not just bad papers that get through, but also good, rigorous, papers that are bounced by this system.

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