Bad news for Team Science.
Isn’t it the peer review process that installs referees with an ax to grind, who then censor papers that disagree with their life’s body of work?
And high government role in funding research, leading to all funding going to the mainstream beliefs?
And total capture by Big Pharma in the case of health and medicine.
I read papers every day and the old ones were much better. They had a clear theory that was tested, and the results were clear. Often they were done with one or two investigators, not 50 or 100.
The new studies are huge and funded by outside parties (Big Pharma) that uses statistical sleight-of-hand and are more geared to getting a particular result that will contribute to a new drug or treatment modality.
Most new studies are completely bogus.
I’m not sure if it was you, Eugyppius, who alerted me to the Science magazine investigation that there has been no progress in Alzheimer’s and that the beta amyloid theory is probably bogus, based upon a study with fraudulent findings done in 2003.
Shocking but this is going on all the time, and is a perfect example of what your essay is talking about.
In my field, economics, the peer review system has been identified as broken for some time, though few have any real ideas what to do about it.
So it shouldn’t have been surprising when, two years ago, virtually en masse, leading academic economists declared that shutting down production would not really have a very negative effect on the economy.
Only a handful foresaw that increasing the money supply while stopping production would lead to out-of-control inflation. No, I’m serious.
The most troubling thing about The Science® is that so many people believe that it is a thing unto itself, wholly apart from the people who practice it. There is this popular notion that science is something existing out there that is just waiting to be discovered by smart people. The fact of the matter is that science wasn’t discovered by scientists so much as it was invented by them. The Science® in all its forms is a human invention that we use to help us understand our observations of the physical universe. As a human invention it is subject to all the biases that other human endeavors are.
That the average person on the street doesn’t understand that is one thing. But somewhere along the line, scientist themselves lost perspective on that. Science is not truth. Truth is truth. Science is our rough estimate of truth.
Science rarely advances by consensus and team building does it not?
But it excels in dogma!
I saw a video where a doctor explained it took the colleges or boards (depending on where you live) 25 or more years to change direction to the latest medical advances. We just saw SSRI's get trashed just WAIT until the whole statin/cholesterol farce gets exposed.
It's ALL about the sugars, bad fats and inflammation but sure wait until the medical orthodoxy comes around. I've been 20 years ahead on nutrition science and it's not hard to do, the science is out there!
Some part of this is surely publication pressure - the demand that researchers publish as many papers as possible, maximizing their h-indices and otherwise burnishing their metrics. Several years ago there was a study that demonstrates that, based on this dynamic alone, sloppy work would proliferate and render the literature unreliable.
Compare to the 19th century, when many scientists would spend a decade not publishing anything, before coming out with a transformative monograph. No one does that anymore.
Establishing an incentive structure that rewarded quality over quantity would go a long way to fixing this. Unfortunately quality is inherently difficult to quantify, meaning that the administrators who run the contemporary university will never be sold on the idea.
My favorite paper on SARS-CoV-2, the most important to the whole pandemic, one that gives you lots of important answers was retracted a few months ago.
The retraction letter states it was literally because the author argued using the Spike Protein could lead to bad outcomes. Literally the sole reason. Not the methodology, not the findings, not anything else, but half of a paragraph.
As someone who strictly follows science I can tell 90%+ of academics don't. In fact both sides of the conversation don't follow science.
As a complex theorist wrote in the comments of my Substack, most people and I argue every single damn "academic" should learn complex theorizing at the very least. It would have saved us from this mess.
Ioannidis published a study "Massive covidization of research citations and the citation elite"
"The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive mobilization of the scientific workforce. We evaluated the citation impact of COVID-19 publications relative to all scientific work published in 2020 to 2021, finding that 20% of citations received to papers published in 2020 to 2021 were to COVID-19–related papers. Across science, 98 of the 100 most-cited papers published in 2020 to 2021 were related to COVID-19. A large number of scientists received large numbers of citations to their COVID-19 work, often exceeding the citations they had received to all their work during their entire career. We document a strong covidization of research citations across science. This may have major repercussions for research priorities and the evolution of research on COVID-19 and beyond."
Covid is literally the one ring to rule them all, absolutely dwarfing every other scientific discipline in terms of literature output and number of scientists/academics involved.
Also, banning most doctors from publishing literature might not be such a bad idea:
JAMA Study: Doctors diagnostic judgements are "mathematically incoherent", "ie, formally illogical and mathematically incorrect"
"Findings In this survey study of 215 physicians, most respondents (78.1%) estimated the probability of a medical outcome resulting from a 2-step sequence to be greater than the probability of at least 1 of the 2 component events, a result that was mathematically incoherent (ie, formally illogical and mathematically incorrect)."
Science is the new priestcraft. Scientists are the new priests. Thin men and nervous ladies suffering from mass hysteria and myopia with far too much control, projecting their nervous dispositions onto all of us and imagining themselves wise.
"a deluge of new publications entrenches top-cited papers, precluding new work from rising into the most-cited, commonly known canon of the field." Spamming, botting, DDoS attacks in fact. Jamming a channel with noise, silver foil chaff to confuse targetting.
Like every other instance of government attempting to replace the free market, the virtually 100% state financing of "science" has led to mediocrity (at best). Most "scientists" now excel in pursuing public funding by writing grant requests, which success depends on adhering to the politically correct "consensus". If Edison had been publicly funded, we'd still be using candles for light.
Stripping the universities of any and all federal funding would be a good start.
Might I mention...:
"Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy" states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration. Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc. The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.(wki)
This is exactly why I say we will never, as a species, get off this rock.
Literally, it must be "The Great Filter."
Eric Weinstein describes one of the problems plaguing society as a whole as DISC - Distributed Idea Suppression Complex. It has been impacting and shaping The Science for a long time, but now with covid we can see these forces finally coming into focus like a Lovecraftian monster.
A paper on the light bulb would never have passed peer review by the best candle makers in the world.
Epurr si muove