Monday, February 27, 2017

Science Deniers Have Some Bases

For most of my adult life, I have been a scientist doing science.  I worked at U of AL for 32 years as a professor, and unbeknownst to many, they paid me CHIEFLY not to teach, but to do and publish research.

I not only did research, but endeavored to teach others to do it as well.  Part of being a scientist involves "peer review".  Peer review is the process wherein scientific reports are reviewed by other scientists prior to publication.

Well, seeing the sausage made changes your view.  I am much MORE skeptical of scientific "findings" than I was in my pre-scientist life.

Why am I so skeptical?  Here are some reasons:
  1. The proliferation of science "publications", now means that even very bad science can be published.  Somone discovered that University profs are willing to pay to get their papers published (thereby earning tenure) so entrepreneurs quickly founded dozens of bogus journals so all the profs could get tenure.  I have had some personal NEGATIVE experiences with these.  Because the journal only gets paid if the paper gets published, they will publish some very bad science.
  2. I review scientific papers for a number of journals.  Most of these can be corrected to result in pretty good science, but some cannot be salvaged.  Those unsalvageable papers will likely wind up being published somewhere.  It's jsut the nature of the business.
  3. I occasionally run across a paper in a good journal with legitimate reviews that is fatally flawed anyway.  E.g. the most prestigious journal in my field published a paper from Johns Hopkins will a slew of authors, including a statistician, that failed to account for differences in measurement resulting in a WRONG conclusion.
  4. Funded research often only gets on-going funding if an anticipated result is found.  Consequently there is ENORMOUS pressure to "fudge" the outcome to "find" what the research team wants to find.  This is "science fraud" and it is being discovered with increasing frequency.

Well, I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.  There is a LOT of wrong science out there.  Even if NONE of the above occurs, there are disparate outcomes for the same research question by legitimate, good researchers.  We HOPE that wrong science eventually gets corrected, but the catch is, we don't always recognize wrong science for many years.

So, here's my conclusion.   Generally OLD science is pretty trustworthy, but NEW science- keep your skepticism in place.  It is well placed.  So, whereas I don't believe the world is flat, I am skeptical of a lot of modern science.

How about you?


  1. If I wasn't already skeptical enough, you have sold me!...Except for the Science of LOVE...I've experienced first hand the healing effects of what it produces...Check out the Journal...Cor. 13:1-7 :)...The only draw back is the documented proofs are written on our hearts...And we have to forfeit our thinking to experience it...But once we do!!!...Now that is one Journal we can put our faith in!