The cult of science - Page 8 - Politics | PoFo

Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...

All sociological topics not appropriate or suited to other areas of the board.
Forum rules: No one line posts please.
User avatar
By Godstud
Blah Blah Bla... as usual, spamming Youtube blogs by the fringe element who engage in pseudoscience. :roll:

Not an argument.
By Sivad
Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, and other lies of physics

Who doesn’t like a pretty idea? Physicists certainly do. In the foundations of physics, it has become accepted practice to prefer hypotheses that are aesthetically pleasing. Physicists believe that their motivations don’t matter because hypotheses, after all, must be tested. But most of their beautiful ideas are hard or impossible to test. And whenever an experiment comes back empty-handed, physicists can amend their theories to accommodate the null results.

This has been going on for about 40 years. In these 40 years, aesthetic arguments have flourished into research programmes – such as supersymmetry, the multiverse and grand unification – that now occupy thousands of scientists. In these 40 years, society spent billions of dollars on experiments that found no evidence to support the beautiful ideas. And in these 40 years, there has not been a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics.

My colleagues argue that criteria of beauty are experience-based. The most fundamental theories we currently have – the standard model of particle physics and Albert Einstein’s general relativity – are beautiful in specific ways. I agree it was worth a try to assume that more fundamental theories are beautiful in similar ways. But, well, we tried, and it didn’t work. Nevertheless, physicists continue to select theories based on the same three criteria of beauty: simplicity, naturalness, and elegance.

With simplicity I don’t mean Occam’s razor, which demands that among two theories that achieve the same thing, you pick the one that’s simpler. No, I mean absolute simplicity: a theory should be simple, period. When theories are not simple enough for my colleagues’ tastes, they try to make them simpler – by unifying several forces or by postulating new symmetries that combine particles in orderly sets.

The second criterion is naturalness. Naturalness is an attempt to get rid of the human element by requiring that a theory should not use assumptions that appear hand-picked. This criterion is most often applied to the values of constants without units, such as the ratios of elementary particles’ masses. Naturalness demands that such numbers should be close to one or, if that’s not the case, the theory explains why that isn’t so.

Then there’s elegance, the third and most elusive aspect of beauty. It’s often described as a combination of simplicity and surprise that, taken together, reveals new connections. We find elegance in the ‘Aha effect’, the moment of insight when things fall into place.

Physicists currently consider a theory promising if it’s beautiful according to these three criteria. This led them to predict, for example, that protons should be able to decay. Experiments have looked for this since the 1980s, but so far nobody has seen a proton decay. Theorists also predicted that we should be able to detect dark matter particles, such as axions or weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). We have commissioned dozens of experiments but haven’t found any of the hypothetical particles – at least not so far. The same criteria of symmetry and naturalness led many physicists to believe that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) should see something new besides the Higgs boson, for example so-called ‘supersymmetric’ particles or additional dimensions of space. But none have been found so far.

How far can you push this programme before it becomes absurd? Well, if you make a theory simpler and simpler it will eventually become unpredictive, because the theory no longer contains enough information to even carry through calculations. What you get then is what theorists now call a ‘multiverse’ – an infinite collection of universes with different laws of nature.

For example, if you use the law of gravity without fixing the value of Newton’s constant by measurement, you could say that your theory contains a universe for any value of the constant. Of course, you then have to postulate that we live in the one universe that has the value of Newton’s constant that we happen to measure. So it might look like you haven’t gained much. Except that theorists can now write papers about that large number of new universes. Even better, the other universes aren’t observable, hence multiverse theories are safe from experimental test.

I think it’s time we take a lesson from the history of science. Beauty does not have a good track record as a guide for theory-development. Many beautiful hypotheses were just wrong, like Johannes Kepler’s idea that planetary orbits are stacked in regular polyhedrons known as ‘Platonic solids’, or that atoms are knots in an invisible aether, or that the Universe is in a ‘steady state’ rather than undergoing expansion.

And other theories that were once considered ugly have stood the test of time. When Kepler suggested that the planets move on ellipses rather than circles, that struck his contemporaries as too ugly to be true. And the physicist James Maxwell balked at his own theory involving electric and magnetic fields, because in his day the beauty standard involved gears and bolts. Paul Dirac chided a later version of Maxwell’s theory as ugly, because it required complicated mathematical gymnastics to remove infinities. Nevertheless, those supposedly ugly ideas were correct. They are still in use today. And we no longer find them ugly.

History has a second lesson. Even though beauty was arguably a strong personal motivator for many physicists, the problems that led to breakthroughs were not merely aesthetic misgivings – they were mathematical contradictions. Einstein, for example, abolished absolute time because it was in contradiction with Maxwell’s electromagnetism, thereby creating special relativity. He then resolved the conflict between special relativity and Newtonian gravity, which gave him general relativity. Dirac later removed the disagreement between special relativity and quantum mechanics, which led to the development of the quantum field theories which we still use in particle physics today.

The Higgs boson, too, was born out of need for logical consistency. Found at the LHC in 2012, the Higgs boson is necessary to make the standard model work. Without the Higgs, particle physicists’ calculations return probabilities larger than 1, mathematical nonsense that cannot describe reality. Granted, the mathematics didn’t tell us it had to be the Higgs boson, it could have been something else. But we knew that something new had to happen at the LHC, before it was even built. This was reasoning built on solid mathematical ground.

Supersymmetric particles, on the other hand, are pretty but not necessary. They were included to fix an aesthetic shortcoming of the current theory, a lack of naturalness. There’s nothing mathematically wrong with a theory that’s not supersymmetric, it’s just not particularly pretty. Particle physicists used supersymmetry to remedy this perceived shortfall, thereby making the theory much more beautiful. The predictions that supersymmetric particles should be seen at the LHC, therefore, were based on hope rather than sound logic. And the particles have not been found.

My conclusion from this long line of null results is that when physics tries to rectify a perceived lack of beauty, we waste time on problems that aren’t really problems. Physicists must rethink their methods, now – before we start discussing whether the world needs a next larger particle collider or yet another dark matter search.

The answer can’t be that anything goes, of course. The idea that new theories should solve existing problems is good in principle – it’s just that, currently, the problems themselves aren’t sharply formulated enough for that criterion to be useful. The conceptual and philosophical basis of reasoning in the foundations of physics is weak, and this must improve.

It’s no use, and not good scientific practice, to demand that nature conform to our ideals of beauty. We should let evidence lead the way to new laws of nature. I am pretty sure beauty will await us there.

Sabine Hossenfelder is an author and theoretical physicist who researches quantum gravity. ... of-physics

@49:33 What physicists should be doing instead of chasing beauty

@ 24:06
Sabine Hossenfelder: getting papers published and certainly the ability to publish a lot of papers makes that look more important.

Robert Wright: yeah well that is a fundamental incentive for most working scientists right? and you think in some ways a corrupting one?

Sabine Hossenfelder: Yeah.

Robert Wright: yeah because for one thing it leads people to buy into the established model, it's like once string theory is a cool thing and they're in and it's getting funded and stuff then there's an incentive to buy into that?

Sabine Hossenfelder: yeah that's a very strong incentive because you need to get money, you need to have a position from it, so in the fields where people have the money you will get a position. I mean it's as simple as this, people go where money goes, money goes where people go, so you get this feedback loop where you get all of this research and these are really hard to get rid of once they have reached a certain size.
User avatar
By Godstud
More Youtube videos? Maybe you should include some Twitter feeds to go for maximum stupidity in your posting.
User avatar
By Hindsite
Godstud wrote:More Youtube videos? Maybe you should include some Twitter feeds to go for maximum stupidity in your posting.

You just don't like the truth, atheist.
User avatar
By Godstud
:eh: What has religion, or lack thereof, to do with anything, you fake Christian?

You wouldn't know "truth" if it came up and bit you on your ass. You believe Trump, after all. I'm not surprised you believe Sivad's Bullshit posts. It goes hand in hand.

User avatar
By Hindsite
Godstud wrote::eh: What has religion, or lack thereof, to do with anything, you fake Christian?

You wouldn't know "truth" if it came up and bit you on your ass. You believe Trump, after all. I'm not surprised you believe Sivad's Bullshit posts. It goes hand in hand.


Ha ha. Sometimes you get so emotional and irrational that you blame Trump for everything.
User avatar
By Godstud
You get so silly most of the time. :lol: I am merely pointing out that if you fall for the lies of one person, you are susceptible to the lies of another. I never blamed Trump for anything, since your own choices are your own.

If you choose to believe Trump's lies, then that's entirely on YOU, not him. It's a sad reflection of your character.
User avatar
By Hindsite
Godstud wrote:If you choose to believe Trump's lies, then that's entirely on YOU, not him. It's a sad reflection of your character.

I choose to believe Trump's truth and ignore the lies about him.
By Sivad
Post-normal science (PNS) represents a novel approach for the use of science on issues where "facts [are] uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent". PNS was developed in the 1990s by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome R. Ravetz. It can be considered as a reaction to the styles of analysis based on risk and cost-benefit analysis prevailing at that time, and as an embodiment of concepts of a new "critical science" developed in previous works by the same authors. In a more recent work PNS is described as "the stage where we are today, where all the comfortable assumptions about science, its production and its use, are in question"

Jerome (Jerry) Ravetz is a philosopher of science. He is best known for his books analysing scientific knowledge from a social and ethical perspective, focussing on issues of quality. He is the co-author (with Silvio Funtowicz) of the NUSAP notational system and of Post-normal science. He is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford.

Interview – Jerome Ravetz ... me-ravetz/

Dr Ravetz discusses climategate and what it tells us about climate science and the philosophy of science in general. From post-normal science to the Extended Peer Community, we discuss how new concepts of science are needed for a new technological paradigm.

Jerry Ravetz - Post-Normal Science in an Age of Decisions(Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture Series)
User avatar
By Hindsite
Sivad wrote: Physicists believe that their motivations don’t matter because hypotheses, after all, must be tested. But most of their beautiful ideas are hard or impossible to test. And whenever an experiment comes back empty-handed, physicists can amend their theories to accommodate the null results.

That is partially true. In the case of the theory of evolution, portions of the theory can be tested and other portions can not be tested. The problem is when they use extrapolation to assume their entire theory has been tested and declare it a proven fact. They do a lot of this extrapolation with the global warming and climate change scares too.

In my opinion the real scientists are those that do practical science that benefit the society and show positive physical results such as in medicine, engineering, energy, and in all manner of inventing. Theories are dime a dozen.
By Sivad
Dissecting The Crisis of Science - Andrea Saltelli

Professor Andrea Saltelli has worked on physical chemistry, environmental sciences, applied statistics, impact assessment and science for policy. His main disciplinary focus is on sensitivity analysis of model output, a discipline where statistical tools are used to interpret the output from mathematical or computational models, and on sensitivity auditing, an extension of sensitivity analysis to the entire evidence-generating process in a policy context. At present he is adjunct professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) - University of Bergen (UIB). He lives and works in Barcelona, and is visiting fellow at Open Evidence Research, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona.

Andrea Saltelli - “Science on the Verge”

“New Currents in Science: The Challenges of Quality” workshop | Ispra, 3-4 March 2016 In conversation with: "Is Science on the verge? Challenges of quality in science for policy: reproducibility, demarcation and accountability"
By Sivad
Scientists ‘should take ethics oath like doctors’

Scientists need their own version of the Hippocratic oath and a regulation system similar to doctors to avoid a big scandal, the head of their standards body has said.
Belinda Phipps, who took over at the Science Council last year, accused the sector of complacency and said the public trusted scientists only because they did not understand their work.
“What struck me, coming into this sector is just how unregulated it is compared to the medical profession,” Ms Phipps said. “Think what damage a scientist could do if he or she behaved badly or fraudulently. The potential damage is enormous" › news › world › the-times
By Sivad

What are the effects of industry (for example, pharmaceutical, petroleum, or food industries) when they sponsor specific research programs? Dr. Marks, Associate Professor of Bioethics, Humanities, and Law at Penn State University tackles this challenging question by showing how results of industry-sponsored research are favorably correlated with results that suit the interests of the sponsors. Although the mechanisms that produce this correlation are not entirely known (i.e. systemic biases, funding effects, etc.), Dr. Marks unveils a broader picture in order to highlight the ethical challenges raised by this research practice. His interest lies in the ways in which industry/academic collaborations not only favor commercializable results, but also shape the kind of questions that ought to be asked and how they ought to be answered.

@19:35 The Perils of Public-Private Partnerships w/ Jonathan H. Marks

The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, And Public Health
By Sivad
Slanted Science

In a landmark decision, a jury found the chemical company Monsanto responsible for a man’s terminal cancer. The case focused on a popular weed killer used by millions of Americans. But Monsanto’s epic loss, may have been sealed by inside documents exposing a disturbing use of slanted science.

Medical Ghost-Writing


Any assistance an author receives with writing a scientific article that is not acknowledged in the article is described as ghost-writing. Articles ghost-written by medical writers engaged by pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in the content have caused concern after scandals revealed misleading content in some articles. A key criterion of authorship in medical journals is final approval of the article submitted for publication. Authors are responsible for the content of their articles and for acknowledging any assistance they receive. Action taken by some journals and medical writer associations to encourage acknowledgement is an uphill task in the light of disinterest from the pharmaceutical industry and ignorance or similar lack of interest by those who agree to be named authors. However, acknowledgment alone is not sufficient to resolve medical ghost-writing; issues of how the acknowledgement is formulated, permission to acknowledge and access to raw data also need to be tackled.


Medical ghost-writing is a new term, different from the ghost-writing of autobiographies, fiction and political speeches. The ghost-writers in medicine are medical writers used by pharmaceutical companies or contract research organisations and medical communication agencies that serve the industry. Some medical writers are employed by the industry or its service agencies, others are self-employed and work under contract.

Articles written by medical writers are published in medical journals. These articles can influence doctors and policy makers in their decisions that effect health. Therefore the articles have marketing potential and there is a feeling that articles associated with manufacturers of pharmaceuticals make exaggerated promises and omit information that might disadvantage their products - but whereas advertisements carry the name of the manufacturer, a ghost-written article does not.

So industry writes up the junk science and these lying scumbag babbitt fraud academic scientists from big university departments will put their name on it to create the illusion of independent CoI free science. What do the babbitt frauds get in return? They probably get grants and speaking engagements at big conferences and promotions and all the status and recognition that comes with whoring your ass to the establishment. And so what if some high school groundskeeper gets a little terminal cancer, that's just the cost of keeping industrial civilization weed free. :lol:
By Sivad
Here's how science works:

Gang of Babbitts Take Over Cochrane Collaboration and Expel Founding Member

[The expulsion prompted four other board members to resign in protest]

One of the medical world’s most respected expert bodies is in turmoil as its annual meeting gets underway in Edinburgh, Scotland, after its governing board voted to expel a member.

The Cochrane Collaboration, which reviews the scientific literature in areas of clinical research and produces widely cited analyses that help guide clinical practice, kicked out a member who has been an outspoken critic of certain vaccines and has blasted the profession of psychiatry for pushing unsafe drugs on unsuspecting patients.

The expulsion of Peter Gøtzsche sparked accusations that the Collaboration is too friendly toward the drug industry. Four other members of the organization’s governing board resigned in response, citing concerns that the action “goes against Cochrane ethos.”

The vote appears to have been 6 of 13 in favor of the move, according to statements from the board members who resigned and Gøtzsche — short of a majority but enough to pass because only 11 voted.

“This unprecedented action taken by a minority of the Governing Board is disproportionate and damaging to Cochrane, as well as to public health interests,” Gøtzsche said in a letter he circulated on Friday.

The Collaboration posted a statement on its website Saturday, saying, “Cochrane’s Governing Board considered, as planned, the findings of an independent review and additional complaints related to the conduct of a Member.” The complaints were not specified, but the statement said the board’s co-chairs will provide more details “once this process is complete.”

In a longer response posted Monday, Cochrane’s governing board said that it finds itself in “an extraordinary situation” and that the four board members who resigned “actively disseminated an incomplete and misleading account of events.”

The decision, the board said, “is not about freedom of speech. It is not about scientific debate. It is not about tolerance of dissent. It is not about someone being unable to criticize a Cochrane Review.”

Instead, the board said, “It is about a long-term pattern of behaviour that we say is totally, and utterly, at variance with the principles and governance of the Cochrane Collaboration.” Although the board did not describe the behavior, the pattern, it claimed, dated back to complaints since 2003, and included three new complaints in March of this year. “All our staff, and our members, have the right to do their work without harassment and personal attacks,” the statement said.

Gøtzsche, the director of the Nordic Cochrane Center, in Copenhagen, Denmark, has cast doubts about the safety of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a cause of cervical cancer, and says psychiatry has “gone astray” by coercing patients into taking medication, such as antidepressants, they don’t want to use and that cause “brain damage” over the long run. “The way these drugs are used today cause[s] more harm than good. So it would be better for us if the drugs didn’t exist.”

Gøtzsche, Cochrane member Tom Jefferson, and another colleague ruffled feathers at Cochrane with a July 2018 article that criticized a recent paper from the Collaboration on the safety of the HPV vaccine. The paper prompted a rebuttal from Cochrane that dismissed the concerns and stood behind the original findings.

Hilda Bastian, a founding member of the Cochrane Collaboration and an influential writer about science, called the review “a manufactured controversy — a hatchet job by people with such strong intellectual and ideological biases, that they didn’t even pick up that some of their most implausible allegations were based on their own analytical and investigative slip-ups.”

Complaints about the review that Gotzsche co-authored came late in the process, according to the board’s Monday statement, and were not the initial trigger of the investigation.

As of now, the board said, Gotzsche remains a member of the organization. He was given seven days to respond to the board’s vote. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from STAT and Retraction Watch.

Gøtzsche, who was elected to the group’s board of governors in 2017, blamed the vote on his stance on the drug industry. “As most people know, much of my work is not very favourable to the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Because of this Cochrane has faced pressure, criticism and complaints. My expulsion is one of the results of these campaigns.”

Jefferson, speaking from a reception at the Edinburgh meeting, told Retraction Watch and STAT that people he’s spoken to are outraged. “I’ve been in Cochrane 25 years, this is not how we do things,” he said. “Peter Gotzsche was a democratically elected member of the board. It’s really unheard of.”

At least one prominent scientist expressed alarm that the move to jettison Gøtzsche was an assault on free speech. John Ioannidis, of Stanford University, said he is “disturbed” by Gøtzsche’s expulsion and stressed the importance of heterodox views in science.

“I adore Peter for his courage and I highly value his major contributions to evidence-based medicine … even if I don’t agree with all of Peter’s views and inferences,” Ioannidis wrote Sunday in an email to a group of more than 100 experts in evidence-based medicine. “I think it is important to make sure that people who disagree with us will get the most opportunity to express and support their views with arguments and evidence and, of course, not get expelled.”

But at least one other expert defended Cochrane. Allen Frances, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., dismissed the notion that Gøtzsche was being unfairly muzzled.

“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” Frances wrote in the thread that included Ioannidis. Rather, he said, Cochrane is justifiably concerned about remaining an “impartial evaluator of evidence” and providing reliable information to doctors and their patients.

“At least in psychiatry, Peter is anything but impartial,” Frances wrote. “He consistently expresses the most extreme views in the most dramatic and misleading way. His role at Cochrane lends its legitimacy to opinions that are dangerous to patients with severe mental illness. As an individual, Peter has total freedom to express extreme opinions, but he has no inherent right to cloak them with Cochrane’s hard won mantle of neutrality.”

The four board members who resigned in the wake of the vote said in a statement Saturday that “the expulsion of inconvenient members from the Collaboration goes against Cochrane ethos and neither reflects its founding spirit nor promotes the Collaboration’s best interests. We are concerned that these actions might cause great damage to the reputation of the Collaboration.”

In its own statement, the governing board said that two other members had resigned because the “situation required further changes in the composition of the Board in order to comply with Cochrane’s Articles of Association.” Neither of the board’s co-chairs immediately responded to requests for comment.

“There appears to be no confidence in the management board at this point,” Jefferson said. “I think the only honorable thing for the rest of the board to do is resign.”

This story has been updated with a statement from Cochrane’s governing board. The story is a collaboration between STAT and Retraction Watch.

This story was originally published by STAT, an online publication of Boston Globe Media that covers health, medicine, and scientific discovery. ... ical-group


Peter C. Gøtzsche (born November 26, 1949) is a Danish physician, medical researcher, and former leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration and has written numerous reviews for the organization. His membership of Cochrane was terminated by its Governing Board of Trustees on September 25, 2018.

After completing the gymnasium Gøtzsche studied science graduating as Master of Science in biology and chemistry in 1974.[3] He worked briefly as a teacher. In 1975 he took a job in the pharmaceutical industry as a drug representative for Astra AB; several months later he became a product manager.[4] In 1977 Gøtzsche took a position at Astra-Syntex and was responsible for clinical trials. While at Astra-Syntex he started to study medicine and graduated as a physician in 1984.[3] He worked at hospitals in Copenhagen 1984-95. He co-founded with Sir Iain Chalmers and about 80 other investigators The Cochrane Collaboration in 1993. The same year he established The Nordic Cochrane Centre. In 2010, Gøtzsche was named Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen.[3] In 2017, he was elected a member of the Governing Board of Cochrane.

Research and reviews

Among his research findings are that placebo has surprisingly little effect[5][6][7] and that many meta-analyses may have data extraction errors.[8] Gøtzsche and his coauthors have at times criticized the research methods and interpretations of other scientists, e.g. in meta-analysis of placebo.[9][10]

Gøtzsche has commented on meta-analysis,[11] and the editorial independence of medical journals.[12] He has written about issues surrounding medical ghostwriting with the position that it is scientific misconduct.[13] He has also criticized the widespread use of SSRI antidepressants.[14]

Critique of reviews of HPV vaccine

At the behest of the Danish Health and Medicines Authorities the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was charged to review data in women concerning use of HPV vaccines and the possible development of rare side effects, namely Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). EMA's review was issued in November 2015 and found no causal relationship.[23][24] Louise Brinth, a Danish physician who had published observational studies on POTS, subsequently critiqued the EMA review in a detailed rebuttal.[25] Gøtzsche supported her and issued a formal complaint to the EMA criticizing their report in May 2018.[26]

Gøtzsche et al. also found faults with a 2018 Cochrane review of the HPV vaccine.[27] The review had judged the vaccine as effective and did not find an increased risk of serious adverse effects.[28]

Expulsion from Cochrane

Gøtzsche who had been elected to the Governing Board in 2017[29] was expelled from the Board and the organization after a 6 to 5 vote of the 13-member board at the annual meeting at Edinburgh, Scotland in September 2018.[30] The Board announced the step on September 26 expelling Gøtzsche because of an "ongoing, consistent pattern of disruptive and inappropriate behaviours ..., taking place over a number of years, which undermined this culture and were detrimental to the charity’s work, reputation and members."[2] The Board had also commissioned a legal review of his activities in the context of his relationship to Cochrane and found transgressions.

Gøtzsche, critical of big pharma and its influence on medicine, expressed concern about "growing top-down authoritarian culture and an increasingly commercial business model” at Cochrane that "threaten the scientific, moral and social objectives of the organization.”"[29] He stated that "Cochrane no longer lives up to its core values of collaboration, openness, transparency, accountability, democracy and keeping the drug industry at arm’s length."[31] After the expulsion, four members of the Board resigned and two had to leave to restore a balance between appointed and elected members throwing the organization into turmoil.

Prof. Peter Gotzsche talks about EMA HPV vaccine Safety Review at IFICA, Dublin, 21/04/2018

Dr Peter Gøtzsche exposes big pharma as organized crime
I admire those who are courageous enough to look into the abyss that is Sivad's mind. As to me, I'm repelled by that odd mixture of far-left and far-right conspiracy theories that sticks out at first sight. The propagation of political conspiracy together with anti-science rants or the promotion of alt-science is the most distinguishing feature of the Nazis and other fascistoid movements.
By Sivad
Bad Evidence
Ten Years After a Landmark Study Blew the Whistle on Junk Science, the Fight Over Forensics Rages On

Wrongful convictions rooted in junk science, crime labs embroiled in scandal, and a devastating revelation about the FBI’s hair microscopy division in 2015 had turned the image of forensics popularized by shows like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on its head. The implications of the FBI scandal were particularly alarming. Hair analysts testifying on the stand had made erroneous statements in at least 33 death penalty cases, according to the agency. “Nine of these defendants have already been executed and five died of other causes while on death row.”

Much of the recent upheaval in the forensics world can be traced back to a landmark study released by the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. Titled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” the report questioned the scientific basis for virtually every forensic discipline used to convict people and send them to prison. With the exception of DNA analysis, it found, “no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”

The NAS report was particularly damning for the so-called pattern-matching disciplines, in which an analyst examines a piece of evidence — say a bloody fingerprint found at a crime scene — and tries to match it to a sample belonging to a suspect. At AAFS, where forensic areas are divided into 11 different sections, many members of such fields responded with a mix of denial and defiance. While some practitioners took up the call issued by the NAS report — the fingerprint community, for example, has worked to develop objective comparison methods and determine error rates — others insisted the old ways of doing things were just fine.

In the intervening years, high-profile forensics scandals and a rising tally of exonerations have made it hard for even the most stubborn forensic experts to ignore the problem of junk science. At the 2017 AAFS meeting in New Orleans, a Virginia exoneree named Keith Harward, who spent 33 years in prison for rape and murder based on faulty bite-mark evidence, confronted the forensic dentists of the odontology section. He vowed to show up outside any courthouse where bite-mark evidence is used in the future. “I will contact the media. I will stand on the street corner in a Statue of Liberty outfit with a big sign saying, ‘This Is Crap.’” ... k-science/
By Sivad
The universe may be a billion years younger than we thought

We've all lost track of time at one point or another, but astronomers really go all in. Recent studies show they may have overestimated the age of the universe by more than a billion years — a surprising realization that is forcing them to rethink key parts of the scientific story of how we got from the Big Bang to today.

The lost time is especially vexing because, in a universe full of mysteries, its age has been viewed as one of the few near-certainties. By 2013, the European Planck space telescope's detailed measurements of cosmic radiation seemed to have yielded the final answer: 13.8 billion years old. All that was left to do was to verify that number using independent observations of bright stars in other galaxies.

Then came an unexpected turn of events.

A few teams, including one led by Nobel laureate Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, set out to make those observations. Instead of confirming Planck's measurements, they started getting a distinctly different result.

"It was getting to the point where we say, 'Wait a second, we're not passing this test — we're failing the test!'" says Riess, co-author of a new paper about the research to be published in Astrophysical Journal.

He estimates that his results, taken at face value, indicate a universe that is only 12.5 billion to 13 billion years old.

At first, the common assumption was that Riess and the other galaxy-watchers had made a mistake. But as their observations continued to come in, the results didn't budge. Reanalysis of the Planck data didn't show any problems, either.

If all the numbers are correct, then the problem must run deeper. It must lie in our interpretation of those numbers — that is, in our fundamental models of how the universe works. "The discrepancy suggests that there's something in the cosmological model that we're not understanding right," Riess says. What that something could be, nobody knows.


Given the stakes, everyone involved is checking and rechecking their results for possible sources of error. Increasingly, though, it looks like the problem lies not with the observations but with the theories of cosmology that underpin them. If those theories are wrong or incomplete, the interpretation of the Planck readings will be flawed, too.

"There's currently no consistent story that works for all our cosmological data," says Princeton University astrophysicist Jo Dunkley, who has extensively analyzed the Planck results. "That means there is fascinating work to be done, to see if there is something out there that can explain all of it."

The "tension" reminds scientists of just how much they still don't understand about the underlying laws of nature.

Decades of early research on the genetics of depression were built on nonexistent foundations

Between them, these 18 genes have been the subject of more than 1,000 research papers, on depression alone. And for what? If the new study is right, these genes have nothing to do with depression. “This should be a real cautionary tale,” Keller adds. “How on Earth could we have spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying pure noise?”

“What bothers me isn’t just that people said [the gene] mattered and it didn’t,” wrote the psychiatrist Scott Alexander in a widely shared blog post. “It’s that we built whole imaginary edifices on top of this idea of [it] mattering.” Researchers studied how SLC6A4 affects emotion centers in the brain, how its influence varies in different countries and demographics, and how it interacts with other genes. It’s as if they’d been “describing the life cycle of unicorns, what unicorns eat, all the different subspecies of unicorn, which cuts of unicorn meat are tastiest, and a blow-by-blow account of a wrestling match between unicorns and Bigfoot,” Alexander wrote.


“You would have thought that would have dampened enthusiasm for that particular candidate gene, but not at all,” he says. “Any evidence that the results might not be reliable was simply not what many people wanted to hear.” In fact, the pace at which SLC6A4/depression papers were published accelerated after 2005, and the total number of such papers quadrupled over the next decade. “We’re told that science self-corrects, but what the candidate gene literature demonstrates is that it often self-corrects very slowly, and very wastefully, even when the writing has been on the wall for a very long time,” Munafo adds.

Many fields of science, from psychology to cancer biology, have been dealing with similar problems: Entire lines of research may be based on faulty results. The reasons for this so-called “reproducibility crisis” are manifold. Sometimes, researchers futz with their data until they get something interesting, or retrofit their questions to match their answers. Other times, they selectively publish positive results while sweeping negative ones under the rug, creating a false impression of building evidence.

Beyond a few cases of outright misconduct, these practices are rarely done to deceive. They’re an almost inevitable product of an academic world that rewards scientists, above all else, for publishing papers in high-profile journals—journals that prefer flashy studies that make new discoveries over duller ones that check existing work. People are rewarded for being productive rather than being right, for building ever upward instead of checking the foundations. These incentives allow weak studies to be published. And once enough have amassed, they create a collective perception of strength that can be hard to pierce.


“There’s an unwillingness to part with a previous hypothesis,” he says. “It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that maybe you were on a wild goose chase for years.” ... es/589684/
  • 1
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
Election 2020

Bribery scheme... why am I not surprised. There is[…]

1] I didn't mean to imply that the US Gov. would […]

Well, first, assuming that all homeless are unint[…]

So you said 4 trillion (out of a 2 trillion bill) […]