Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fake, Faulty, Bad, and Inaccurate

A large number of people worldwide play golf. Golf is a game with measured results, therefore, all games of golf are comparable and all golfers equally good. umm ... uhh ... no. A large number of people worldwide play science and I’ll leave the rest to Dr. John Ioannidis.

Wall Street Journal: Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis. "There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," Dr. Ioannidis said. "A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true." The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.

Every new fact discovered through experiment represents a foothold in the unknown. In a wilderness of knowledge, it can be difficult to distinguish error from fraud, sloppiness from deception, eagerness from greed or, increasingly, scientific conviction from partisan passion. As scientific findings become fodder for political policy wars over matters from stem-cell research to global warming, even trivial errors and corrections can have larger consequences.

Let me help wave the red flag again. There is a lot of really bad scientific “work” being published in an environment that rewards grant funding based on the weight of the pages published and the networking circles of like minded participants. In all seriousness, the phrase “scientific study” should be given equal weight with the phrase “movie review”.

World Conference on Research Integrity: Addressing the urgent need for fighting fraud, forgery and plagiarism in science world-wide, the very first World Conference on Research Integrity is set to facilitate an unprecedented global effort to foster responsible research in Lisbon, Portugal from 16 to 19 September 2007.

It is about time the scientific community starts serious self-policing efforts. Does anyone remember that true science requires independently reproducible results from full disclosure of methodology? Does anyone remember that one point does not prove a line?