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

The Evidence and The Conclusions. Anthropologist Found to Be Falsifying Evidence for 30 Years

Evidence & Conclusions

I recently saw this article about Professor Reiner Protsch. He taught at a German university for the last 30 years.  And it turns out that his status as an expert in dating various anthropological finds is not only suspect, he has been shown to be a complete fraud. Indeed many of his “facts” were manufactured.

According to Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax, “Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.”

Wow.

It seems that in spite of “peer review” the scientific community is really vulnerable to people manufacturing “evidence” to fill in the gaps for conclusions they have already made.  This is true even when their experts don’t even know how to run a carbon dating machine.  And it can go on for decades. The key is that the lies have to fit in with what the scientific community wants to believe. If your lies are inside the box they probably won’t be questioned. In fact it was only when a huge amount of money was at stake that someone started doing some fact checking.  Others have been challenging the “sacred cow” of peer review as being unreliable.

After I stopped laughing (because I have met more than my share of arrogant, table-pounding scientists), I realized that this is actually a sad situation for everyone.  It is horrible when the truth is handled this way.   It should lead the rest of us to  be skeptical of what we are told, even by the “experts.”  And while peer review is important, and the concept is admirable, we can’t even assume that 30 years of peer review in the “hard sciences” is fool proof.  Many well intended scientists like to speak as if their pronouncements are beyond questioning, that they are the only source of pure knowledge.  I would like to think that this will chasten the scientific community into a place of greater humility, but I am not holding my breath.

This is the conversation that came to mind when I read the article:

Skeptic: Do you believe in evolution?
Evolutionist: Not really. It is a fact. I believe in evolution the same way I believe in gravity.  Anyone that even questions evolution is clearly a blind religious zealot with no regard for the facts.
Skeptic: Why do you say it is a “fact?”
Evolutionist: Besides the obvious reality that the vast majority of scientists believe it, there is all the evidence. It is incontrovertible. Let me give you some examples….
Skeptic: So since you believe in evolution because of the evidence, if the evidence changed, or it was found to be incorrect or falsified, then obviously you would change your position that evolution is a fact.
Evolutionist: Well… not exactly. I might change what I believe about how evolution happened, but not THAT it happened.  It is undeniable that all living creatures descended from common ancestors.
Skeptic: Why do you say that it is “undeniable that all living creatures descended from common ancestors” by evolution?
Evolutionist: Because of the evidence.
Skeptic: So if you learned that the much of evidence that lead you to believe that “all living creatures descended from common ancestors” turned out to be totally incorrect, or worse an intentional lie, you would still believe it anyway? You wouldn’t be willing to rethink your conclusion? You would just rearrange some of the details? Is there any finding that would urge you to rethink your position?
Evolutionist: Why do you hate science?