This Is Not Science

Today is more about science than education. Here are two links to recent stories of bad science. The second one is rather larger, but the first one reminded me of it.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/12/muting-the-mozart-effect/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/03/228859954/some-online-journals-will-publish-fake-science-for-a-fee

I’m not going to go off on some kind of “science is bad and the scientific method has has failed us” rant here, not because I have “faith in science”, but because the failures that those articles are describing are not science.

Lack of randomized studies, lack of control groups, pay-to-publish, prestige publishing, these aren’t science. They’re trying to wear science’s clothing like it’s some kind of game. It’s not a game. People use these results to create, to build, to teach, to treat and heal. When someone uses a medical study to treat patients and then finds out that the study was a fraud, the cost for that is measured in corpses.

I’m against people pretending that their research is solid when it turns out to be primarily opinion. I couldn’t care where they’re faking it. Weakening one area of scientific endeavor weakens the whole, even if only in the realm of public perception.

There’s a comment from the second article about the need for “naming and shaming”, and a suggestion for a Consumer Reports-style journal that reviews other journals. In the interest of that, here’s a link to Jeff Beall’s list of predatory journal publishers.

http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/

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About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on December 13, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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