Science fraud is apparently rampant, and those who arrogantly declare “I believe the science!!!” will have to do better than that in the future, if they wish to be taken seriously.
The website “Retraction Watch” is a useful location for browsing fraudulent and retracted scientific papers.
Here is an excerpt from a recent NYT op-ed dealing with the “fetish” of scientific papers published in “high impact” journals:
Science fetishizes the published paper as the ultimate marker of individual productivity. And it doubles down on that bias with a concept called “impact factor” — how likely the studies in a given journal are to be referenced by subsequent articles. The more “downstream” citations, the theory goes, the more impactful the original article.
Except for this: Journals with higher impact factors retract papers more often than those with lower impact factors. It’s not clear why. It could be that these prominent periodicals have more, and more careful, readers, who notice mistakes. But there’s another explanation: Scientists view high-profile journals as the pinnacle of success — and they’ll cut corners, or worse, for a shot at glory.
And while those top journals like to say that their peer reviewers are the most authoritative experts around, they seem to keep missing critical flaws that readers pick up days or even hours after publication — perhaps because journals rush peer reviewers so that authors will want to publish their supposedly groundbreaking work with them. . . __ NYT via Powerlineblog
There are newer, better statistical techniques that can be used to catch “scientific” fraudsters, but most “high impact” journals are unwilling to take the trouble:
Publishing is built on trust, and peer reviewers are often too rushed to look at original data even when it is made available. Nature, for example, asks authors “to justify the appropriateness of statistical tests and in particular to state whether the data meet the assumption of the tests,” according to executive editor Veronique Kiermer. Editors, she notes, “take this statement into account when evaluating the paper but do not systematically examine the distribution of all underlying datasets.” Similarly, peer reviewers are not required to examine dataset statistics. __ Peer Review is Worthless Without Close Examination of Datasets h/t http://powerlineblog.com
In some cliquish and insular areas of science, such as “climate science,” it can be particularly difficult to find the bad apples. Authors often refuse to provide their datasets for fear that some fault will be found in them. Editors of journals are particularly amiss in reviewing climate articles, and peer reviewers tend to be part of the clique, more concerned about “circling the wagons” than about accurate and valid science.
Why do they do it?
Science is still a very strongly career-driven discipline. Scientists depend on a good reputation to receive ongoing support and funding, and a good reputation relies largely on the publication of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to “publish or perish”. Clearly, this may motivate desperate (or fame-hungry) scientists to fabricate results.
Ease of fabrication
In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately, being obscured by noise, artifacts, and other extraneous data. That means that even if a scientist does falsify data, they can expect to get away with it – or at least claim innocence if their results conflict with others in the same field. There are no “scientific police” who are trained to fight scientific crimes; all investigations are made by experts in science but amateurs in dealing with criminals. It is relatively easy to cheat although difficult to know exactly how many scientists fabricate data. __David Goodstein of Caltech via Wikipedia
Science is largely controlled by a small group of “insiders,” who typically call the shots.
The semi-bureaucratic organisation of scientific research is a crucial factor in this process of shaping scientific goals. A relatively small number of scientists and bureaucrats make the crucial decisions about research: setting up and shutting down research programmes, making key appointments, editing journals, allocating grants, awarding prizes. This group can be called the political scientific elite . They have the dominant influence on priorities within science. More than most other scientists, they have regular interactions with equivalent elites within government and industry, and usually share the same basic concerns.
Many of those who rise within the hierarchy do so by claiming an excess of credit for their own contributions; once somewhat up the hierarchy, it is easier to use the power of position to continue the process. It is easy to see why many of these practices are standard: they serve the interests of the more powerful members of the research community.
… It is almost always other scientists who are most aware of the cheating that goes on. There are conflicting pressures: some colleagues believe in scientific ideals and hate to see them defiled, or may want to stop the cheater from getting ahead on the basis of shoddy work; but most don’t want to undergo the personal confrontation involved in making allegations of fraud. Administrators often are reluctant to raise the matter too widely since that would hurt the reputation of their institution. __ Brian Martin (published in Prometheus)
Some journal editors have crawled so far out on the limb to protect articles which they know are fraudulent, that the weight of the smallest question mark would be enough to send them crashing to the ground below.
“If younger researchers do not start applying these techniques now,” he says, “they might find themselves on the backbenches in 10 years, because it is becoming the norm to do your research in a reproducible, transparent, and open manner.” __ Nautilus … Philip Ball
Climate science and “green energy science” will self-immolate when open, transparent, and reproducible science becomes the norm. Such types of science which only exist to serve political and ideological purposes cannot survive in an honest and open research environment.
Accountability in Research journal (paywall)
Fraudulent science is funded by government, universities, foundations, and corrupt green billionaires.
Climate Audit blog is a running audit on climate science follies, and well worth reading.