Quote of the day—Charles Seife

We’re entering an era of cargo cult peer review. It now appears that even major scientific publishers are peddling products that have all the trappings of a scholarly journal but are fundamentally hollow at core. As it is, the majority of research published in the scientific literature could be wrong.

Charles Seife
April 1, 2015
Science’s Big Scandal
Even legitimate publishers are faking peer review.

[This is particularly true in the “soft sciences” (I’m being generous by using the word “science” at all) such as “Culture Studies” and “Identity Studies”. See for example:

I, an electrical and software engineer, have gone through climate change papers and found serious errors. For example, one paper had the total power delivered to a sphere in space (Earth) off by, exactly, a factor of two. They also called it energy, even though it was expressed in units of power. I would almost give them a pass on the second point since in this particular context you can easily convert from one to the other but they should have at least given a word in passing that they knew what they wrote was incongruous.

When we get to papers written about gun ownership, except those written by criminologists and some economists, it’s frequently so bad that you can close your eyes and point at a page and find something wrong with the paragraph.

I trust science as a process. I don’t trust the academics in our present day colleges and universities.—Joe[

10 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Charles Seife

  1. Unfortunately, “scientific studies” are a product, and academics like the money provided by various sponsors, even if it requires they skew their results.

    I’d also consider that those doing those studies are products themselves of a corrupted and insufficient academic process. It would seem that if a university teaches bogus curricula like most of the current social sciences, the Ph.D’s who graduate from those:
    1. Have no real skills to offer business, so they are stuck in academia.
    2. Did not learn the actual research skills needed to conduct a rigorous scientific examination of a topic.
    3. Are biased from the start to craft a study that supports a particular viewpoint.

    I find it interesting, though, that even those like Garen Wintermute seem to be able to actually do real research on occasion. It’s just that when the famous gun grabber does come up with a study that supports the other side (that would be us), it’s either ignored or explained away as an anomaly.

  2. Unfortunately, we seem to have replaced the “scientific method” with “scientific democracy”. But can we expect anything less from an empire in decay? add in commie brain washing? and as anyone who works for a living knows, you “cater to the check”. the boss wants global warming, he gets global warming.
    The boss wants to make money on this new statin drug R&D just invented, fats the problem! and on and on it goes.
    I feel the larger problem is its so easy to surrender one’s sense of honor in this world. I think were losing our integrity across the board. and it comes down to judging things on the basis of “who benefits”.

  3. “Even legitimate publishers are faking peer review.”

    This is truly a statement for our age; it recognizes a serious problem while exhibiting a very similar problem, for, by definition, a publisher cannot be legitimate while faking peer reviews.

    It displays an almost gloriously contrived lack of comprehension of what one is saying. Giving the writer credit for understanding, I’d come to the conclusion that it was hypocrisy.

    Is it hypocrisy? I don’t think so. It’s an almost sophisticated, drafted and crafted, level of unawareness, a sort of Condition White while testifying to a violent crime in progress, like watching your own house burn down while in an opiate-induced fog, holding a fire extinguisher, not really understanding the situation but marveling at the pretty colors, light and smoke. Maybe it’s like playing the fiddle while Rome burns.

    This is similar to the now frequent comments regarding news media, which can be summed up as, “The media no longer report the news.” The utter disconnect being the erroneous, unsupportable assumption that the media ever did, at some specific, known, yet unmentioned time in the past, earnestly and honestly report the news.

    Yes or no; do you still beat your wife? Are you no longer a robber and a rapist?

    Without any shred of evidence, and never once a citation, how does one assume that the media were ever honest at any time? One doesn’t, of course, without being in the sort of fog of non-awareness that allows one to say legitimate publishers are faking peer reviews”.

    If faking is legitimate, then please do tell; what shall I consider illegitimate? If the statement was not a simple and forgivable typographical error, then one can only assume that its author believes telling the truth to be illegitimate.

    There is, after all, a large and growing culture, or Beast, which does believe that the truth is illegitimate, that truth is tyranny because it imposes standards, requirements, restrictions, and, perish the thought, even judgements! Judgements hurt people’s feelings, and hurt feelings are the result of violence, and so the truth is violence! In this age of deception then, we must be very clear in our use of the language.

    And I know, for sure and for certain, that people will be sloughing this off as as nitpicking. Thus we will continue down this path until up is down and down is up, and it won’t matter because “well, like, you know what I mean, like, you know?”

    How can I know what you mean when, clearly, you don’t know what you said?

    Here’s the whole secret, see; if you knew what you meant, you’d have said it.

    Don’t say one thing expecting me to infer some other thing. I mean, like, really, you know?

    Do we not speak to the degree to which we understand? Or would we have others believe that we understand to a higher degree than that to which we speak? What evil charade is this in which we find ourselves, and shall we not endeavor to escape it?

    • “Legitimate publishers”

      I think I see the problem, right there. Who gets to decide which publishers are “legitimate” or not? How is that determined?

      The skeptic in me says that a “legitimate publisher” is one that only publishes papers with conclusions supporting certain (politically-correct) viewpoints, and not necessarily ones which are scientifically-rigorous or -valid.

      On that note, how many papers have been written — how many studies conducted — that espouse real science, but because they don’t support “climate change” or “gun control” or [insert Leftist-based social program], that they go unpublished and are never subjected to peer review in the first place?

      We’ll never know, because they go unpublished.

  4. It is inevitable that the scientific method, having been raised to the level of infallibility in the public mind, would be by that time already infiltrated, usurped, co opted, and prepped for use as a weapon of lies and tyranny.

    Who or what else is thought “infallible” and unquestionable? Why, the pope, of course! “Science” is now just another pope, or co pope, if you will. A papal “Bull”, or an Encyclical, or a declaration in a science journal, are for the same purposes. Their tactics and target demographics are only slightly different. You might commit a heresy against the universal church, or a “denial of science” and they’re treated alike. Either way, you are to be punished, and by the same culture and for the same reasons.

    And so now you’re juuust beginning to find out what’s it’s like to be a Christian, with so many fake Christians and anti-Christians making Christianity appear to be the opposite of what it really is, so many forces on the planet aligned in cooperation, inoculating people against the truth, so that when they hear the truth they’ll already have determined it to be silly, stupid, or dangerous lies.

    Hah! Now suffer that for over twelve hundred years, with millions of your fellow scientists having been slaughtered, tortured, burned at the stake for refusing to “recant” on their assertion of gravitation or some such, or tortured to death for the mere possession of a basic physics textbook, and maybe you’ll begin to see. Actually, it could yet happen. “Heresy” against the pope will be combined, in concert, with “heresy against science” and they might even burn people alive for it. You don’t think it could happen? We’re already headed down that path.

  5. What we have not yet come to realize is that science cannot answer every question we have. For example, there have been numerous studies asking the question ‘is coffee good or bad for us?’ Almost all these studies use observational statistic methods that cannot prove causality. To make matters even worse, the statistics are suspect since probability tests are repeatedly applied and yet assumed to be independent. That results in meaningless significance tests. And that’s before we ask if the underlying measurements are normally distributed which is the basis for most significance tests.

    Then look at the volume of papers on any subject. For example type in gun safety into google. There are 1,380,000,000 hits. That’s an impossible number of reference to grasp. Or try typing diabetes into PubMed (663,065 hits). A key part of science is peer review, but the volume of ‘research’ has far exceeded human capacity to review let alone verify.

    The same applies to many other areas such as gender studies (PubMed hits – 1,002,704).

    Real science was done with measurements under controlled conditions and mostly before the computer age. Science has become a very false god. Want to know if coffee is good or bad for you? Today’s science will provide any answer you want. The same is true for any other question.

    Confirmation bias rules today’s academics and researchers. And ‘science’ has become useless for most questions. Especially for policy deciders looking to justify a decision.

    Nothing has changed since the beginning of history. Science is our new god but the decisions are still made by man and subjective feelings.

  6. Wait; Joe; you’re not a “fundamentalist” are you, when it comes to science? You actually believe that things must be tested, verified, retested, cross-checked, duplicatable, and peer reviewed before they can be regarded as true? You’re not willing to defer to your science cardinals’ and science bishops’ decrees as to what is “settled science”?

    If you adhere to the fundamentals of the scientific method, you’re a “fundamentalist”, and we ALL KNOW (or so the pope tells us) that “fundamentalism” is “separatism” and is also “extremism”, which is “violence against unity”, which may as well be terrorism! So the world will call it terrorism.

    Oh boy, and you’re an “armed fundamentalist” too. Tisk tisk. You’re either a “canary in a coal mine”, or a dead man walkin’.

    • My son, in a conversation with a co-worker, brought up a very interesting point that fits well with this particular discussion. Even though the particular focus of his discussion related to the impending “Climate Change Disaster”, the point he made still resonates here. In short, the supporters of climate change (and I will add any other dogma that purports to liberate or protect people while actually depriving them of Liberty) are in actuality highly religious. Their actions are no different than the rulers of previous times that told Copernicus and Galileo that they were in conflict with the “settled science”.

      Joe, I think you will have a lot of armed fundamentalist companions.

  7. As you know, I do not believe that there is any such thing as a gun violence. There is also no such thing as knife violence, car violence, alcohol violence etc.
    Violence is perpetrated by an individual or group. The tool used is irrelevant.

    Most such articles are written on the basis of an attempt to explain something that the authors are unwilling to recognize and accept.
    Let’s break it down:
    Suicide involving firearms is an act of desperation, remorse, inability to except circumstances, or a personal choice to avoid a situation that the individual cannot control.
    The literature is replete with data about other countries numbers and rates of suicide. There is a cultural correlation, unrelated to the chosen mechanism. Suicide by firearm makes up approximately half of United States firearm associated deaths.
    Justifiable taking of a human life falls into the category of self-defense, or law enforcement action . Whether such activity occurs on the basis of a firearm, a conducted electrical weapon, a blunt object, a pointed object or a blade, or open hand certainly makes no difference in the outcome.
    Justifiable activity makes up approximately 20 to 25% of firearms associated deaths. These outcomes are socially and culturally acceptable.
    There is a small and declining number of accidental firearms deaths in the United States.
    That leaves us with approximately 25% of firearms associated deaths due to criminal activity. More than half of that occurs in just several of our large cities and is associated with gang activity and other drug and sex trafficking crime.
    With that basic information on the table, the question then becomes what to do about violence. The emphasis on firearms is the proverbial red herring. It is clear that the problem is not firearms, knives, or tire irons in the hands of the police or honest citizens. The avowed intent of much of the literature on “gun violence” is to find a law that will preclude criminals from obtaining firearms. Such an intent is either mistaken or malicious. There is no law that will prevent a criminal from breaking the law. That is the definition of criminal. The only purpose of the law is to provide a punishment for a violation of the law. Since honest people by definition are not criminals, then the only purpose of such laws is to harass honest people. To paraphrase a comment made by the late Ayn Rand in “Atlas Shrugged “: ‘The government cannot control honest people. The government can only control criminals. Therefore the plan is to pass laws that no one can obey and make everyone criminals. Then the government can control everyone’.
    The misplaced emphasis by many of our politicians and academicians on firearms is a blatant failure of excepting reality. It is not life circumstances that explains the veniality of a Bernie Madoff, the pederasty of some clergy, or the violence of gangs. It is a choice of a tool to exercise control over people. Until human nature becomes angelic, there will be a need to punish criminal behavior.
    Therefore, I do understand and except the need for Laws that help to define the moral and legal basis of a society. It is the behavior that is the concern; not the tool that is used to abuse other human beings.



    Robert Margulies, MD

    If you stay fit, you do not have to get fit.
    If you stay trained, you do not have to get trained.
    If you stay prepared, you do not have to get prepared.


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