February 24, 2016

SCIENCE CAN'T WITHSTAND DARWINISM:

How Networks Topple Scientific Dogmas : The Peer-to-Peer Republic of Science (Max Borders, February 24, 2016, FEE)

[T]he problem doesn't just affect the soft sciences, according to science writer Ron Bailey:

The Stanford statistician John Ioannidis sounded the alarm about our science crisis 10 years ago. "Most published research findings are false," Ioannidis boldly declared in a seminal 2005 PLOS Medicine article. What's worse, he found that in most fields of research, including biomedicine, genetics, and epidemiology, the research community has been terrible at weeding out the shoddy work largely due to perfunctory peer review and a paucity of attempts at experimental replication.

Richard Horton of the Lancet writes, "The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue." And according Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman, writing in Vox,

Another review found that researchers at Amgen were unable to reproduce 89 percent of landmark cancer research findings for potential drug targets. (The problem even inspired a satirical publication called the Journal of Irreproducible Results.)

Contrast the progress of science in these areas with that of applied sciences such as computer science and engineering, where more market feedback mechanisms are in place. It's the difference between Moore's Law and Murphy's Law.

So what's happening?

Science's Evolution

Three major catalysts are responsible for the current upheaval in the sciences. First, a few intrepid experts have started looking around to see whether studies in their respective fields are holding up. Second, competition among scientists to grab headlines is becoming more intense. Third, informal networks of checkers -- "amateurs" -- have started questioning expert opinion and talking to each other. And the real action is in this third catalyst, creating as it does a kind of evolutionary fitness landscape for scientific claims.


In other words, for the first time, the cost of checking science is going down as the price of being wrong is going up.

Posted by at February 24, 2016 6:17 PM

  

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