Can Science Trust Itself?
Disturbing news comes from scientists who like to portray themselves as infallible seekers of the truth.
Russian journals retract more than 800 papers (Nature). Last month, Nature mentioned a big recall of published papers in Russia.
Academic journals in Russia are retracting more than 800 papers following a probe by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). An independent RAS commission used software and manual checking to identify plagiarism or self-plagiarism in hundreds of journals across the sciences, medicine and law. The commission recommended the retraction of 2,528 articles and has called for 5 journals that refused to cooperate to be censured.
It’s good that the RAS announced this, but can we be sure they announced all the bad news? Who watches the watchers?
This brings up questions about trustworthiness of science in dictatorial countries, where national prestige sometimes influences what the leadership wants to be made public. In the current coronavirus epidemic, for instance, some are claiming the Chinese communist government shushed the news about it when they could have taken emergency steps earlier. They censored a warning from a whistleblower doctor who later died from the disease. Free countries, however, cannot be assumed to be immune from manipulation of scientific findings that might be embarrassing or might threaten national security.
People will not trust unkind science (Nature). In a personal view column, Gail Cardew asks for a kinder, gentler science. But isn’t science supposed to be about truth, whether people feel good about it or not? Guess what her appeal is about. Climate change.
Colombian science minister’s cancer claims spark controversy (Nature). So is this a case of a maverick bucking the consensus, or a rogue scientist failing to follow accepted protocols before making a claim? Either way, the implications are disturbing.
Top Spider Biologist’s Research Under Fire (The Scientist). First one, then two… as Jonathan Pruitt’s papers started getting retracted, “scientists have mobilized to interrogate the data in nearly 150 of Jonathan Pruitt’s papers.” The ‘top spider biologist’ is embroiled in a scandal and is being charged with fraud.
Malaysia says won’t be ‘garbage dump’ as it returns waste (Phys.org). We’re all nudged to recycle. When we do recycle, we feel good, because we’re doing our part to help the sea turtles and promote a sustainable planet. But guess what: our recycled waste gets shipped to the Far East where we don’t have to think about it – but they do. And they’ve had enough.
Malaysia has sent back 150 shipping containers of plastic waste to mostly wealthier nations, with the Southeast Asian country saying Monday it would not be the world’s “garbage dump”.
The region has been flooded with plastic from more developed economies such as the United States and Britain since 2018, after China—which previously boasted a massive recycling industry—ordered a halt to most imports.
Truth decay: when uncertainty is weaponized (Nature). Felicity Lawrence reviews The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception David Michaels Oxford Univ. Press (2020). The book is about corporations trying to cheat their way around science. Not political, of course. “Michaels, no longer required to be a non-partisan government official, reserves special criticism for the Republican Party.”
Harvard chemistry chief’s arrest over China links shocks researchers (Nature). “Nanoscientist Charles Lieber allegedly lied about his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Plan.” He’s the liar who got caught. How many other liars are there? Science cannot exist without honesty.
Faulty Antibodies Undermine Widespread Research (The Scientist). What happens to scientific findings when researchers trust an untrustworthy supplier? Or what happens when the supplier responds that researchers didn’t follow the manufacturer’s directions? GIGO.
What happens when Darwinists input storytelling into their research? DIGO.
The point of this article is not to take sides in the controversies reported. It is to show that science is no more trustworthy than the honesty of scientists themselves. Science, like Lincoln’s ideal of government, is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. People are sometimes the weakest link.
Stephen L. Talbott’s book-in-progress Evolution As It Was Meant to Be has severely critical passages about Darwinian “science” the way it is practiced by the consensus – even though he is an evolutionist himself. He’s a member of the “Third Way of Evolution,” a group of prominent scientists dissatisfied with traditional neo-Darwinism. Talbott uses the word “Blindsighted” to describe today’s evolutionists who miss the big picture. He explains what he means in Chapter 1, “The Keys to This Book.” Is it really possible for so many scientists to be blind to the very thing they need to explain? Talk about missing the elephant in the room! Read the chapter and decide. Chapter 21, “Evolution Writ Small,” is also worth reading to rethink whether evolutionists deserve the trust uncritically granted them by their peers and the media. His statements about natural selection are particularly damaging. Read more about Talbott in our 14 Nov 2019 and 15 Nov 2019 entries.