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Has Modern Science Become Dysfunctional?

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posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 02:57 AM
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Short but eye-opening piece from the American Society for Microbiology about the recent spate of retractions from scientific journals. The article's author suggests that this is a sign that science is "losing it."


The recent explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals is just the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of a greater dysfunction that has been evolving the world of biomedical research say the editors-in-chief of two prominent journals in a presentation before a committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today....

...In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%. While retractions still represent a very small percentage of the total, the increase is still disturbing because it undermines society’s confidence in scientific results and on public policy decisions that are based on those results, says Casadevall.

More at source

Like so much else, science seems to be becoming corrupted. Especially where big money is involved, as in the biosciences in particular these days, among others.

The author goes on to write: "The root of the problem is a lack of sufficient resources to sustain the current enterprise. Too many researchers are competing for too little funding, creating a survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all environment where researchers increasingly feel pressure to publish, especially in high-prestige journals."

Well, this makes sense to me, that this would be the case. Money corrupts. The more money, the more likely the corruption. Biomed and bioscience is big money at the moment.

If true, obviously this is a major problem. We count on science to be objective. Moreover, science advances based on past advances in science. Innovation A leads to innovation B and this becomes the foundation for innovation C, and so on. But if "A" is based on corrupt or falsified science, how reliable can "B" and "C" be? And in biosciences, the stakes are often very high: the health of indivuiduals and even society as a whole hangs in the balance.

Objectivity. Where did it go? And how can we get a reasonable approximation of it back?




posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 05:33 AM
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I think science has been heading this way for years.

Research is almost exclusively directed towards generating money rather than research for the betterment of science or mankind. Many good research scientists stop research and become businessmen when they make a breakthrough that has commercial value.

If you don't have a massively over priced subscription to a company like Elsevier you can't view others research. Elsevier now has copyright on huge amounts of historical research and is profiting from publicly funded science.

It's a sad state of affairs...



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 05:38 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 

Not so much retracted, hushed would be a better term



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 06:26 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


There's nothing wrong with science: no matter how noble or medically relevant the information may be, scientific publications and research aren't exempt from economics, and the subtle message of circumventing the economic procedure to getting your research published is far more disturbing then the alleged problem of too much competition.

However, in one of the editorials, I must paste it here because this is very, very important, and I see it much in the attitude of my colleagues (especially those with less experience):


In this regard it is worth remembering that Ph.D. degrees granted in the natural sciences are actually Doctorates of Philosophy. However, scientific training today does not include significant instruction in philosophy despite the critical importance of the philosophical branches of logic, epistemology, and ethics to science. In fact, there are numerous instances in which philosophical thought has greatly influenced scientific discovery and vice versa. Einstein credited the philosopher Immanuel Kant with inspiration that led to the theory of relativity, and Einstein's scientific contributions have in turn influenced philosophy


All the methodology and results/data of modern science depend on the philosophy of science and its mathematical consistency to make sense-- or more importantly, data lives and dies by it's contribution to the overall framework of philosophy. It's unfortunate that popular science, especially in the more politically charged education programs, have developed in the minds of their students a kind of scorn towards philosophy. But this is detrimental, as the greatest scientists in history weren't just scientists, they were philosopher-scientists i.e. theorized and arranged their knowledge into a coherent body to determine its valuation as a whole, rather than the compartmentalization of keeping knowledge separate and specialized that we have today.



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 06:30 AM
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Science lost it when they found the atomic matches. They tried to blow a hole in the atmosphere and ignite it! I mean what kind of idiotic moron would do such a thing? Mad scientists thats who.

If they allow scientists to try and ignite the atmosphere or risk doing it they will allow the scientists to do anything.



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 06:36 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 


S & F. As the article points out, and I agree from first hand knowledge of the process, funding drives the publishing of papers. Furthermore, much of the funding is politically driven, and it does not take a genius to understand that those who agree with the view of the funding agency, are likely to be the ones that receive the funding.
It is certainly true, also, that this is not a new problem. One need only read how Galileo was sentenced by the Inquisition for his "heretical" views, to understand that power, in many cases, trumps scientific reason. We seem not to have learned anything from his unfortunate life-time house arrest.
Will humanity ever learn?



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 06:41 AM
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There have been some pretty interesting things happening in science as well also, despite the shotgun approach of publishing articles. (Which I wasn't even totally aware of)

For one, I've become recently interested in the field of biosemiotics. I think this is a very wise branch of science, it may help you with your poker game as well.
edit on 29-3-2012 by RSF77 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 29 2012 @ 08:51 AM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


I very much agree, take the example of building collapses today. There is definite power over science. imherejusttoread put forward a great example to keep everything in context. Is it right that as scientist we should be allowed to go through unrestrained and do what ever the hell we want? The tools that are developing can provide a lot of power, affect lives and significantly change the way of life. Look at how far we have come since the start of the industrial revolution. What sort of mad hat, harry potter world would be created left unrestrained?

So now we have the economists running the show, counting, watching, regulating supply and feeding demand. There are supply chain and distribution issues going on as well, that all takes time, resources and planning. Technology is converging, growing smaller, faster and stronger, but bleeding out in complexity as more of our environment is becoming clearer defined.

For the health and biology branches, the biggest problem is the economic incentive towards treatments instead of cures. From here the rest falls apart, longer waiting list, decreased quality of life, over stressed workforce and a sick public just leading to more errors in the system. Finding jobs, work security, corporate returns and limited economic factoring all contribute to the problem at hand. An economic directive is in conflict with a health directive. One way out maybe with macroeconomic modelling showing the impact to GDP that ongoing treatment is making compared to quicker health solutions. This can then feed into government policy if it is anywhere near what I would expect.



posted on Mar, 30 2012 @ 12:03 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 

Study: Trust in science among educated conservatives plunges

Conservatives, particularly those with college educations, have become dramatically more skeptical of science over the past four decades, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. Fewer than 35 percent of conservatives say they have a "great deal" of trust in the scientific community now, compared to nearly half in 1974.

This story in the news today shows a public skepticism in the ability of today's science to be objective and remain uninfluenced. Deliverately skewed studies are more than just a nuisance but are a hazard to public health. Building on flawed studies is reckless.

When the loop of trade secrets is secured by under-the-table money to regulators in charge of passing or failing based on public safety, people can die or become ill and never know why. And when the media, in the hands of the few, with vested interest in molding public perception rather than informing, the closed loop is secure. Good topic!



posted on Mar, 30 2012 @ 05:25 AM
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Originally posted by silent thunder

The author goes on to write: "The root of the problem is a lack of sufficient resources to sustain the current enterprise. Too many researchers are competing for too little funding, creating a survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all environment where researchers increasingly feel pressure to publish, especially in high-prestige journals."

Well, this makes sense to me, that this would be the case. Money corrupts. The more money, the more likely the corruption. Biomed and bioscience is big money at the moment.

Err, hang on, you have quoted somebody as support, but reached entirely the opposite conclusion. The author says there is too little money in the system, with too many scientists competing for it: so they get desperate and "game" their results to make something look like a success when it wasn't.

However you then say "Money corrupts. The more money, the more likely the corruption. Biomed and bioscience is big money at the moment."

So which is it: do you agree with the author that there is too little money in the system, or do you think it is too much?



posted on Apr, 3 2012 @ 12:44 AM
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reply to post by FatherLukeDuke
 




So which is it: do you agree with the author that there is too little money in the system, or do you think it is too much?


There needs to be the right currency liquidity in the market to keep prices at a stable and comprehensible range. If there is not enough money then there is not enough distinction of value between small trades. If there is too much money then larger trades become less comprehensible and mistakes with so many zeros start to cause problems.

As for the sciences, I am not sure how the job market is with labour supply and demand. I do know jobs in the IT field have picked up here in Australia since the GFC. There also seams to be some consolidation and monopolization issues going on. Market competition is generally seen as healthy for overall social health.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:28 AM
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Additional article of possible related interest from slashdot:

Majority of Landmark Cancer Studies Cannot Be Replicated


During a decade as head of global cancer research at Amgen, C. Glenn Begley identified 53 ‘landmark’ publications — papers in top journals, from reputable labs — for his team to reproduce. Begley sought to double-check the findings before trying to build on them for drug development. Result: 47 of the 53 could not be replicated. He described his findings in a commentary piece published on Wednesday in the journal Nature (paywalled) . … But they and others fear the phenomenon is the product of a skewed system of incentives that has academics cutting corners to further their careers.


Unsettling.



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