You Should Worry About Scientists-Frauds, Hoaxes, Nonsense, and Bias in Scientific Papers

This essay takes a few words to discuss the problem of false reports in peer-reviewed academic journals. Evidently, there are a number of problems with publishing scientific “facts” these days. There is the garden variety error. Then there is the fraud. After this is the Hoax, in which clever pranksters make fools of the system.  Evidently there are more than a few PhDs that are eager to confirm their bias about the emperor’s clothes. Last is the nonsense paper. Keep reading.

Remember, science is NOT what scientists say. And because of this you should always be skeptical. And we are learning that we have to be skeptical even when groups of scientists insist on things. And sadly, the scientific community has no one to blame for themselves for this mess. Thankfully there are some whistle-blowers in the ranks.

This article is entertaining and frightening at the same time. Someone actually published an article on the feminizing of melting glaciers…

The authors mention how the progressive-left bias of scientific community, especially social scientists, makes them easy prey for claims that fit their pre-conceived view of the world. Of course that danger doesn’t only affect the left, it just so happens that they have a majority, and they are the ones insisting that their beliefs are facts.

Note well how he ends the article:

“Social science is especially hard-hit these days; one psychologist described it as “riddled with flaky research and questionable theories.” There is a surprisingly broad consensus about the cause—that is, everyone from Michael Shermer to Uncommon Descent agrees on it—namely, that the field’s overwhelmingly progressive-left bias makes it an easy mark for both hoaxes and frauds.

“It also makes it an easy target for a third category of problem paper that is neither a hoax nor a fraud exactly: the nonsense paper that may well be believed by its authors. Examples of these include the widely cited “positivity ratio” in psychology, which was assessed as “entirely unfounded” in 2013, and the recent, apparently serious attempt to “feminize” melting glaciers.

“This sort of thing should come as no surprise. Monochromatic bias exposes a community to greater risk because few of its members even notice a hoax, fraud, or nonsense thesis that passes their bias filter. Usually, the person to whom it doesn’t sound right has different commitments and life experiences, and he or she is the one motivated to investigate.

“Ironically, many defenders of the status quo in recent years have claimed to be “scared to death of the anti-science lobby.” Their worries are misplaced. It’s actually science that is coming to get them. Soon.” (emphasis added)

Source: The Hoax on Us by Denyse O’Leary

Six Easy Ways to Tell If That Viral Story Is a Hoax

This is a really cool article that explains some of the ways that amateur internet detectives (as well as pro’s and, yes, you can use them too) can easily determine if elements of a viral story (such as photos and vidoes) are genuine.  These tools can be used for much more than defeating a hoax.  And there are some tools here that I will definitely use in the future.

“…News in the digital age spreads faster than ever, and so do lies and hoaxes. Just like retractions and corrections in newspapers, online rebuttals often make rather less of a splash than the original misinformation. As I have argued elsewhere, digital verification skills are essential for today’s journalists, and academic institutions are starting to provide the necessary training.”

Most fascinating to me? The reverse image search, Youtube Data Viewer, and Fotoforensics. Check out the site for links.

Also, note this one:

Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer

“Photos, videos and audio taken with digital cameras and smartphones contain Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) information: this is vital metadata about the make of the camera used, and the date, time and location the media was created. This information can be very useful if you’re suspicious of the creator’s account of the content’s origins. In such situations, EXIF readers such as Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer allow you upload or enter the URL of an image and view its metadata.”

Source: Six Easy Ways to Tell If That Viral Story Is a Hoax