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Forging a Head: The Upside of Scientific Hoaxes

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the may-I-interest-you-in-some-goat-organs? dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 201

An anonymous reader writes "In a very funny piece over at Science Careers (published by the journal Science), scientist-comedian Adam Ruben suggests that a lot of good can come from a well-intentioned hoax. 'Hoaxes have infiltrated science for centuries,' Ruben writes, 'from fake fossils (Piltdown Man, archaeoraptor, Calaveras skull) to fake medical conditions (cello scrotum, the disappearing blonde gene) to fake animals (Ompax spatuloides, Pacific Northwest tree octopus, Labradoodle).' In contrast to fraud, Ruben argues, such hoaxes do a great service to science by illustrating 'failures of our most important tool: our skepticism.'"

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Apologist? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990000)

Are they making excuses for soon to be more public global warming hoax ?
Is the AlGore loosing his investors ?

God is punishing the Bible Belt (0, Troll)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990264)

As punishment for your disbelief, the Lord has sent the worst tornado season and the worst floods ever recorded. This is His new Commandment: "Thou shalt believe that burning fossil fuels cause global warming".

Re:God is punishing the Bible Belt (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990418)

Neither the tornado season nor any floodings are outside of historial norms. Don't let mass media educate you on science.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-tornadoes-climate.html [physorg.com]

Yes but (2, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990004)

While it's true that we need one of these every so often to remind us of the need for scientific rigor, it also does great damage to science for many. e.g. Climategate gave ammo for global warming deniers, piltdown man gave more credence to creationists, etc.

Re:Yes but (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990084)

Well, "Climategate" gave ammo for global warming deniers within their own echo chamber. The whole shit was made up from out-of-context quotes making up about 1 ppm of the stolen mails they scanned for it. Nothing a rational man would consider harmful. That's playing in a completely different league than the piltdown man, which was made up from beginning to end.

Re:Yes but (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990172)

Umm, no. Have you read the mails? Looked at the data? It's not at all about out-of-context quotes. In there were confirmation of things previously only suspected, like back-handed deals where papers in peer review were given to opponent writers before publishing etc.

Be objective.

Re:Yes but (0, Redundant)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990510)

Have you the the emails? If so, which back-handed deals were revealed? Did money change hands? Or does this idea stem from a general, out-of-context comment?

Be accurate.

Re:Yes but (2, Informative)

sanzibar (2043920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990672)

1. The scientists colluded in efforts to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests (across continents no less). They reference deleting data, hiding source code from requests, manipulating data to make it more annoying to use, and attempting to deny requests from people recognized as contributors to specific internet sites. Big brother really is watching you. Heâ(TM)s just not very good at securing his web site. 2. These scientists publicly diminished opposing arguments for lack of being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the background they discussed black-balling journals that did publish opposing views, and preventing opposing views from being published in journals they controlled. They even mention changing the rules midstream in arenas they control to ensure opposing views would not see the light of day. They discuss amongst themselves which scientists can be trusted and who should be excluded from having data because they may not be âoepredictableâ. 3. The scientists expressed concern privately over a lack of increase in global temperatures in the last decade, and the fact that they could not explain this. Publicly they discounted it as simple natural variations. In one instance, data was [apparently] manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed. Other discussions included ways to discount historic warming trends that inconveniently did not occur during increases in atmospheric CO2. 4. The emails show examples of top scientists working to create public relations messaging with favorable news outlets. It shows them identifying and cataloging, by name and association, people with opposing views. These people are then disparaged in a coordinated fashion via favorable online communities. would you like more...?

Re:Yes but (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990734)

In one instance, data was [apparently] manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed.

It is clear you have no idea what they were really talking about.

Enlighten yourself:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8Ve6KE-Us [youtube.com]

Re:Yes but (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990830)

So, in short, they waged a spin-war on the opposition. Regardless of title, they're politicians, and they happen to be on the side of "Global warming is a real problem."

It's a big, important question, with dramatic implications in the long, medium and short term. Deniers have a lot more to gain in the short term than believers, and based on that alone, I find the believers more believable.

Any question that involves Trillions of dollars will generate a political circus around it, with clowns on all sides.

Re:Yes but (-1, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990232)

Irrelevant, climate modelling and making economic and political decisions based on those models is not science. The climatologists and their benefactors have set up their own echo chamber, and reality is proving them wrong. We are not on some runaway graph of ever increasing temperature.

Re:Yes but (2, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990244)

And your scientific reason for that statement is... anal extraction? The big bad global climate conspiracy, made up of tens of thousands of scientists is out for you too? Better stay in your basement then. They are SCARY.

Re:Yes but (0)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990300)

There are thousands of scientists who question the methodologies and conclusions of the CRU. The benefactors of the CRU have economic and political agendas, which is the salient revelation of the "climategate" e-mails.

Re:Yes but (4, Informative)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990366)

There are relatively few scientists in the field of climate science that question global warming. There are certainly not 'thousands'.

Re:Yes but (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990452)

There are relatively few jobs in the field of climate science that allow questioning global warming. Practically all of the funding for it now derives from global warming alarmism. The people paying for it always want to know, "What are you doing about global warming?" and the answer "Taking a serious skeptical look at whether it actually exists." consistently results in pulled funding.

The field ballooned tremendously with external support and funding, almost all feeding the side that says "the sky is falling", because the people outside of the field inclined to believe it unquestioningly see it as important enough to throw huge amounts of money at, while those who are skeptical or outright disbelieving see it as a rather low spending priority.

It's a very good example of why you can't find truth by a vote of the people in a field: sometimes the vast majority are hired directly into one side of the argument.

Re:Yes but (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990542)

That's not the point, whether they question global warming or not. the point is "There are thousands of scientists who question the methodologies and conclusions of the CRU". That junk science by them is being the basis for a planned multi-trillion dollar parasitic system on the most developed countries.

Re:Yes but (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990646)

"There are thousands of scientists who question the methodologies and conclusions of the CRU".

Every scientific paper I read has a section on the limitations of the methodologies and conclusions of the study. That's standard thoughtful academic writing. Scientists question *everything*. That doesn't mean their conclusions are wrong. It just means they've carefully considered alternative explanations.

For global warming, the overwhelming consensus makes it unlikely their conclusions are wrong.

It's possible they could be wrong. Anything is possible. But when we're faced with an imminent danger, we have to stop arguing over hypotheticals created by coal and gas industry think tanks and come to a plan of action.

So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990676)

"We doubt everything, including this, so we should have credibility, but there is no doubt about this (which we doubt so we have credibility) so you must accept it unquestioningly, along with our orders for dealing with it, based on our credibility from being doubters of everything including this."

Some days I question whether reducing the fundamental principles of science to the style of an insincere pose of humility is really the right way to go about the business of truth-finding. That's why you need to believe me when I say that it is.

Re:Yes but (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990562)

Even if there were thousands, there'd be millions who didn't.

Not that the majority is always right. Obviously, they've all been [threatened by the Illuminati|brainwashed with orbital lasers|bought off by the all-powerful lentil growers' lobby|other please specify _ _ _ _ _ _]

Re:Yes but (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990440)

The science of global warming is not carried by the CRU alone, nor is it by Al Gore, to avoid this strawman. That "revelation" of the "climategate" mails, you get that also by anal extraction? All I see there is some people getting pissed of by the low quality of the review process of a second rate journal and talking in their jargon for the rest of it. And the "thousands of scientists" dwell in the same place where you got your other talking points from? Show me those scientists. And I mean people competent in the field not weathermen like that lying scumbag Watts.

Re:Yes but (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990518)

The science of global warming is not carried by the CRU alone, nor is it by Al Gore, to avoid this strawman.

It's fine that you're willing to disown them, as long as you're also willing to disown anyone who has pointed at them as authorities, such as all of the mainstream climate researchers who applauded "An Inconvenient Truth" (full of laughable inaccuracies, including the famous silver bullet scissorlift graph of a prehistoric CO2 and temperature correlation graph which omitted the inconvenient truth that the actual data show the CO2 following the temperature by a considerable time delay, rather than leading it; I've heard this defended with "That doesn't prove that CO2 doesn't contribute to warming." and that's true, but it sure as fuck isn't a point in favor of CO2 being a major driver of temperature change) and recommended it as a good introduction for laymen.

All I see there is some people getting pissed of by the low quality of the review process of a second rate journal

If this is all that it was, we could laugh it off. But that's not the defense we heard from the mainstream. They didn't tell us, "Oh, those guys suck. We're not with them. Hang 'em out to dry." What we heard from the mainstream is, "There was no misconduct. This is business as usual and the way it should be done. Anyone who sees a problem with any of this is an anti-science loon with a nefarious political agenda."

Re:Yes but (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990552)

There is no science within the CRU to carry, that is an institution which generate speculations to prop up a multi-trillion dollar wealth heist. The real collected data on global warming is a separate issue.

Re:Yes but (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990596)

I guess we end that debate here. Your delusions are beyond repair. Enjoy your paranoia. Oh, and on occasion, think about who is really heisting the wealth of the middle class.

Re:Yes but (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990740)

I am speaking of a planned heist not implemented, "cap and trade" and carbon tax and such. The mega-corporations with our governments in their pocket are heisting us, and it includes almost all energy production, but they also have plans for increased profits from "cap and trade" and carbon taxes.

Re:Yes but (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990670)

The evidence is *much* stronger that burned fuel particles in the atmosphere increase the rate of asthma and bronchitis, causing as I recall 3,000 deaths a year from coal, 3,000 deaths a year from gasoline, and several times as much disability. (Just ask a nuclear power engineer.)

Is that also a multi-trillion dollar heist?

Re:Yes but (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990726)

I don't like fossil fuel pollution either, and your death and maiming statistics are too low.

Re:Yes but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990806)

It is pretty irrelevant to the question at hand. No reasonably intelligent person seriously doubts that engine exhaust is harmful in some ways. Everyone has heard about a carbon monoxide garage suicide or the smog in LA.

It's the sort of thing people easily put in perspective. Consider the number of deaths worldwide from human and animal "exhaust". Feces-contaminated water is no laughing matter.

The case for anthropogenic global warming being real and significant, for it being worse than the climate change we'd get if we avoided all of our climate-affecting behaviors, for it to be enough worse to justify the costs of averting further change, and for any proposed measure toward this goal to actually be effective, are all very difficult to make in a rationally (as opposed to emotionally) convincing way.

It's right to be skeptical, to suspect you're being manipulated, when people tell you "It's too hard for you to understand why, but just believe us and completely change the way you live your life or there will be a worldwide disaster.", when they have no track record of making successful predictions. They keep telling us, "Climate is different from weather. That we can't predict the weather very well is no reason to say we can't predict the climate perfectly." But the actual difference in experience we have with climate and weather prediction is that we have seen some demonstrated ability to predict the weather, but NONE AT ALL to predict climate change. The field of climate change prediction is nothing but untested theory. And they want us to turn the world upside down to avert their first major prediction.

Re:Yes but (2)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990582)

There are dozens of scientists who question the methodologies and conclusions of the CRU.

We have to take them seriously on the merits. That's the way science works. But for policy purposes, we should go along with the overwhelming majority.

Re:Yes but (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990708)

Making models of climate a decade or a century from now is not science; that is not the way science works.

Re:Yes but (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990812)

Why not?

Re:Yes but (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990844)

On the contrary, making models and predictions based on theories is exactly what science is all about. That's how you test the theories.

Of course, the same models can also be verified with events that happened in the past, such as ice age cycles.

Here is the science in a nutshell (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990838)

CRU alarmist propaganda at bottom, reality at top, argue with the NOAA if you don't like the graphs:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/images/temp-anom-larg.jpg [noaa.gov]

Re:Yes but (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990630)

Climategate wasn't a hoax, it was a political ploy. The difference is, a hoax shows how far within the scientific community an idea can go without merit. That's a good internal check.

Re:Yes but (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990750)

True. Declaring it, and by proxy climate science as a whole, a hoax, is just another part of that ploy.

Re:Yes but (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990532)

While it's true that we need one of these every so often to remind us of the need for scientific rigor

Define "us". The scientifically literate are already skeptical. Joe sixpack is going to oscillate between believing everything he hears and believing nothing. While that might sound good to those who believe in shit like crowdsourcing & the gambler's fallacy, in reality it's about as good as a stopped clock.

I did not evolve from an ape.... (-1, Troll)

Readycharged (2023636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990016)

Darwin's theory of evolution has got to be the longest running scientific joke!

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990036)

So I get you are still an ape? Fortunately I evolved away from that. :-)

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (0, Troll)

Readycharged (2023636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990070)

Ok....That should read, "I was never an ape.....or an amoeba, for that matter" Seriously, evolution is unproven.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990102)

If you understand evolution to mean that you, personally, have been an amoeba at some time, you are so far out that I don't know what to tell you here. Please, read up on the subject before making comments. Besides, every scientific theory is unproven. the thing about evolution is that it is unfalsified despite of decades of people trying hard.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (0, Troll)

Readycharged (2023636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990146)

I'm sure you are intelligent enough to know exactly what I mean; to wit I do not believe that man evolved from an amoeba - via apes - to Homo sapiens. Sure, scientific theories are unproven, but some are more credible than others - backed up by supporting evidence. There is more evidence in Creationism - as well as it making more sense.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990166)

evidence my ass, and neither does it make the slightest sense..

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990174)

Evolution does not suggest that man evolved from apes. You fail at trolling.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990782)

Are you suggesting that early Hominidae [wikipedia.org] were not apes?

If you mean that evolution doesn't suggest that we evolved from modern apes, then I see your point. But I think it's more accurate to say evolution suggests that we are apes.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990858)

Evolution does not suggest that man evolved from apes. You fail at trolling.

Aren't humans classified as great apes? Does evolution suggest that humans became apes directly from monkeys? Wouldn't it make sense for evolution to suggest an ape progenitor?

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990202)

There is more evidence in Creationism - as well as it making more sense.

But if we take Bronze Age myths as evidence, then there's much more evidence for theories other than Judeo-Christian creationism. There are hundreds, thousands of different creationist myths out there.

If you think an old book is evidence enough you have to consider all other old books as equally valid, don't you?

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990208)

That's right, it wasn't god though...it was the Aliens, JACKASS!

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990214)

I am pretty much tired of this discussion. The evidence supporting evolution is laid down in decades worth of scientific journals filled with articles on every detail. First we constructed the interrelationship of species by anatomical means. Later we learned to read genetic codes and protein sequences. And guess what - the relationships derived from those are nearly identical to the earlier though. What stronger evidence do you need? Well, you are entitled to your believes of course, but reality exists separately from those.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990692)

Man, that is bad. At the fist two comments I thought you was just joking, but that one has a quite serious tone. Really, we did learn a thing or two at the last couple of millenniums, take a loot at it.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (0)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990134)

Just in case you really are being serious:
You cannot "prove" anything when you are talking about the physical universe. You can only show that some model of the universe is successful in reproducing direct measurements.
Let me make it more clear: if you do not believe evolution is the best answer we have to explain the relationships we can observe between the various species present on Earth today, you are an idiot. You may be right, because it is always possible for some god to make fun of us, but you are still an idiot. Furthermore, if you do believe that evolution did not take place and we were created by a god, then you will have to realize that it is just as true that you were not born to your mother, but you were brought to her by a stork. I will not accept any evidence to the contrary of the stork hypothesis, because any evidence can be faked (just like the evidence for evolution can be faked).

What you should do is get away from slashdot, this dwelling place of the infidels, and go educate yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dRyl9VksgU [youtube.com] .

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990170)

Seriously, evolution is unproven.

Ok, so, please, show us your evidence that proves where we really came from? And no, a book written over the course of a few centuries and edited by a large group of men centuries after the events it describes took place is not valid as evidence.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990194)

...and so are the hundreds of creation myths... Unless you think you're special and have proof of your myth? (Unlike the people who believe in the other myths... THOSE guys just believe anything!)

When you understand why you don't believe those other myths, you'll understand why I don't believe yours!

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (2)

Calydor (739835) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990304)

Well, an amoeba is a single-cell organism.

At the moment of conception you really were an amoeba.

Your point is invalid.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990472)

Well, an amoeba is a single-cell organism.

At the moment of conception you really were an amoeba.

File under "Undistributed Middle, Fallacy thereof".

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990322)

Part of what you said is sort of correct. None of your ancestors was an amoeba. Whether one of your ancestors was an ape or just a common ancestor between humans and apes is uninteresting semantics. You had ancestors that would look like something any of us would see and say "that's an ape!" . But let's focus on the amoeba claim. Amoebas are not simple primitive organisms. Indeed, they share some similarities with complex life forms such as the presence of a cell nucleus. Amoebas are highly adopted for their niches. This means that no ancestor you had ever resembled an amoeba. You did have single-celled ancestors but that's not the same claim. Let me tentatively suggest that if you think that amoeba is a generic term for single-celled organism then you really don't have nearly enough knowledge to discuss evolution, and thinking you know enough to reject it against the scientific consensus is probably an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect [wikipedia.org] . So take a few biology classes. Local colleges will often allow people to take classes they have. Start with an intro bio class, then take a genetics class and an evolutionary biology class. At that point, if you still reject evolution you'll at least understand what you are rejecting.

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990580)

Seriously, evolution is unproven.

Nonsense. Evolution can be easily demonstrated in the lab by observing viruses of bacteria for several generations. Or where did you think the next influenza strain comes from each year?

Re:I did not evolve from an ape.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990378)

Oh God, another idiot. Please kill yourself. Do NOT contribute to the gene pool.

Moon landings (1, Interesting)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990024)

The Moon landings is my favorite. A hoax demonstrating against something that really DID happen. How meta is that?

Oh and the Creationist hoax, obv.

Re:Moon landings (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990032)

I meant the Chariots of the Gods guy DISPUTING them = the hoaxer, obv. Not the actual landings themselves.

Re:Moon landings (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990204)

That it is possible to live in a world where the mere concepts of such things are so alien that you find yourself drawn to say "how meta is that?" is simultaneously tragic and tantalizingly promising. I can only hope that our (rhetorical) children live in a world of such comparative innocence.

Re:Moon landings (0)

juasko (1720212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990294)

You mean the evolution hoax...

Allt the school books based on this hoax...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piltdown_man [wikipedia.org]

You believe what ever you want but stop fooling around about creationist hoax, when the other is no better at all.

Re:Moon landings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990412)

Piltdown man was found to be a hoax and science correct itself. WHEN has creationism ever corrected itself?

Re:Moon landings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990594)

The real question when HAS creationism ever been correct?

Re:Moon landings (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990640)

Well, to that I would add the "hoax" that atoms look like little solar systems with shiny, ball-shaped protons (red), neutrons (black), and electrons, and grossly inaccurate scales. The "Bohr model" is a complete hoax!

Seriously, though, of course there are errors in textbooks, and sometimes those errors persist for a long time. But science corrects itself. It *does* change, and eventually people kept on testing Piltdown man and found out it was a hoax because many people were skeptical about it from the beginning, and more so as additional evidence turned up from other parts of the world. That doesn't mean Piltdown man is of any significance or gives any real ammunition to anti-evolutionary creationists today ... except that they are so low on ammo that this antiquated bit of evidence gets brought up as something useful to flesh out their lame stories that scientists are closed-minded to other ideas. That claim doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's the creationists that are close-minded and locked to an idea.

The "young Earth global flood" idea was scientifically rejected because of the evidence 200 years ago, even before evolutionary theory was proposed, yet here we are today with some creationists still believing it has scientific validity. There's a whole museum devoted to it. Those creationists have some extraordinarily serious skepticism failures of their own, and have no business scolding scientists about the long-rejected Piltdown man. Hell, I still hear claims about "Moon dust", "salt in the oceans" and all sorts of other nonsense from "young Earth global flood" creationists even though other people have tried many times to patiently explain the problems with those arguments. Yet the same old stuff gets used over and over again. A thoroughly incorrigible lot. At least scientists learned from mistakes like Piltdown man.

Software development hoaxes are among the best. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990026)

I think some of the best hoaxes as of late have been within the field of software development.

Object-oriented programming has proven to be one of the grandest hoaxes of all time. The way they managed to construct a convoluted paradigm, and then to sell it to a couple of generations of academics and software developers as a way to "save time" and create "maintainable systems", is truly remarkable.

The "patterns" hoax is probably the next most significant. Looking back, the idea that just using the so-called "patterns" all over the place will somehow result in better code is absolutely laughable these days, but so many people fell for it a decade or so ago!

The "software architecture" hoax is somewhat more limited to corporate software development, but it has probably been one of the most costly hoaxes. The idea that putting together a group of guys with huge egos, paying them a lot of money, and letting them doodle on whiteboards will somehow result in working software systems was actually taken seriously for many, many years! It took probably billions of dollars of waste before people figured it out.

It's hard to compete with hoaxes like these, that have fooled millions upon millions of smart people, and in some cases, cost billions upon billions of dollars.

Re:Software development hoaxes are among the best. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990118)

Don't know if I'd go that far, but probably one of the biggest proclaimed benefits of OOP, inherent code re-usability, turned out to be a complete joke, especially to anyone familiar with generic programming.

Re:Software development hoaxes are among the best. (1)

juasko (1720212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990308)

Well you need to start looking att cocoa or gnustep to get what object oriented programming is all about.

Re:Software development hoaxes are among the best. (0)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990792)

"The "software architecture" hoax is somewhat more limited to corporate software development, but it has probably been one of the most costly hoaxes. ... It took probably billions of dollars of waste before people figured it out."

You mean... People did find that out? Where?

But I kind of disagree about the object orientation. The idea is useful, it is that people give it too much importance, and too try to use it too much, even when it doesn't make any sense.

But patterns, and may I add, all the cost estimating technologies (with a big trophy for function point counting - estimating the cost of software by the complexity of the interface! True AI will cost just a couple hundred dollars to build!), yeah, those are clearly hoaxes.

Somehow... I don't believe it (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990038)

In contrast to fraud, Ruben argues, such hoaxes do a great service to science by illustrating 'failures of our most important tool: our skepticism.'"

But... was this peer-reviewed?

Fake Dogs?!? (3, Informative)

Alcoholic Synonymous (990318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990052)

Wait...

Labradoodle's are fake? I bet all the Labradoodle owners would be shocked to learn their dogs are not real.

Maybe the author should research before he declares what's real and what isn't. I mean, his bad science isn't actually helping here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (5, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990088)

Labradoodles are both real, *and* a blasphemous abomination before the Lord.

Seriously. Labs and Poodles should never be in the same room together, let alone mated. They're the most disgustingly horrific dog to have ever been successfully bred this side of Lovecraft's fecund imagination.

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990236)

Labs and Poodles should never be in the same room together, let alone mated. They're the most disgustingly horrific dog to have ever been successfully bred this side of Lovecraft's fecund imagination.

Yeah and the fact that Labradoodles have this fur that is a reminder of the 80's hair that all the girls had back then!

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990126)

It's just the "Labradoodles are fake"-hoax.

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (4, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990144)

One thing the wikipedia article doesn't mention is the distinctive bark of the Labradoodle, an unusual sound often written as 'Whoosh!'

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (1)

BlortHorc (305555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990732)

Wait...

Labradoodle's are fake? I bet all the Labradoodle owners would be shocked to learn their dogs are not real.

Maybe the author should research before he declares what's real and what isn't. I mean, his bad science isn't actually helping here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle [wikipedia.org]

Glad I am not the only one thinking that, I've known people who breed Labradoodles all my life.

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990820)

Wait...

Labradoodle's are fake? I bet all the Labradoodle owners would be shocked to learn their dogs are not real.

Maybe the author should research before he declares what's real and what isn't. I mean, his bad science isn't actually helping here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle [wikipedia.org]

Aha! You're just following the steps to create a hoax! From TFA:

- Submit your data to the two most reputable peer-reviewed journals in the world, which, of course, are Wikipedia and YouTube.

Re:Fake Dogs?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990880)

The author is both a scientist and a stand up comic. He is a *humor* columnist at sciencemag.org.

It goes both ways (1, Interesting)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990062)

I guess the biggest failure is not skepticism, but failing to recognize a hoax. There's an important difference.

Most skeptics reject everything outright (instead of "ok, let's wait for more evidence"). This is also bad. With a hoax the answer is usually dancing in front of you.

Remember, the platypus was considered a hoax for a long period of time. The Gorilla was also considered in the same league as 'Bigfoot" once

From TFA "between one-quarter and one-half of the students voted to regulate or ban outright the scary-sounding DHMO.These were college students"

Really, THINK "Di - Hydrogen Mono-Oxyde" "two hydrogen oxide", gee where have I seen this...

Re:It goes both ways (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990180)

Most skeptics reject everything outright

Those people are not skeptics.

Re:It goes both ways (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990192)

Most skeptics reject everything outright

Those people are not skeptics.

Agreed, but they usually label themselves as such

Re:It goes both ways (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990470)

Grumpy people whose default setting is "no new information" do indeed label themselves skeptics. The funny thing is a lot of them seem to be incredibly gullible once they let that guard down. Makes me wonder if the "skeptic" pose is a form of self-protection.

Re:It goes both ways (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990460)

We rightfully call this kind of people "deniers" or "denialists". They may foam at the mouth as much as they like, that is what they are.

Re:It goes both ways (1)

Bobtree (105901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990560)

Agreed. A skeptic will say "show me the evidence." A denier says "that's impossible."

Pure deniers operate on faith, just like true believers.

Re:It goes both ways (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990608)

Aye. And they have modpoints to spare, obviously.

Re:It goes both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990190)

You comment doesn't deserve a (as of yet) "4, Interesting".

I guess the biggest failure is not skepticism, but failing to recognize a hoax. There's an important difference.

Yeah, but how would you recognize a hoax if you aren't skeptical in the first place?

Most skeptics reject everything outright (instead of "ok, let's wait for more evidence").

You made this one up. A true skeptic would even reject the denial as being unproven. What you described there are ignorants or fanatics demanding more and more evidence where a surplus already exists.

With a hoax the answer is usually dancing in front of you.

Of course, as this is the very definition of almost everything. But how can you recognize a hoax? Reliably?

Remember, the platypus was considered a hoax for a long period of time. The Gorilla was also considered in the same league as 'Bigfoot" once

But how do you identify platyus and gorilla as being real?

Being a skeptic helps immensely.

From TFA "between one-quarter and one-half of the students voted to regulate or ban outright the scary-sounding DHMO.These were college students"

So what? The whole DHMO thing is not a hoax. The dangers of DHMO are real, e. g.,

Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.

This is true. You should not inhale DHMO!

Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.

This is also true. Although the tissue damage is not caused by the solidity itself ...

Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.

This is true in its entirety. It does not necessarily cause burns, but it can (depending on temperature and concentration).

DHMO is a major component of acid rain.

Yeah, of course it is!

This is not a hoax, the DHMO scam is a very selective presentation of facts in order to irritate people. It shows how the scaring presentation of facts, in combination with scientific terms, can bypass critical thinking, and thus influence people's opinions.

Re:It goes both ways (3)

OnTheEdge (136784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990356)

"Most skeptics reject everything outright" This may very well be true of most skeptics you know, but my definition of skeptics is different. My definition, and the skeptics I know, more closely align with the definition of skepticism associated with philosophy (second definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepticism#Definition [wikipedia.org] ) or the one just following for scientific skepticism (here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepticism#Scientific_skepticism [wikipedia.org] ). They tend not to reject everything outright, but to suspend judgement until sufficient evidence is in place to make a judgement.

Re:It goes both ways (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990456)

"I guess the biggest failure is not skepticism, but failing to recognize a hoax. There's an important difference."

True. Skepticism isn't enough on its own, it's just a starting point.

In the case of "archaeoraptor" [wikipedia.org] , the paper was rejected from multiple journals (e.g., Science and Nature) because reviewers and others did question the integrity of the specimen. So, skepticism was working well enough to have people questioning the data and interpretations. In some cases people couldn't be confident it was a "hoax" (a chimera of different specimens put together) from the information initially available, but they had enough doubts to keep it out of the scientific literature until those possibilities were properly checked -- at which point it became evident that it was indeed a hoax. Even though it's probably a good example of the system working the way it is supposed to, there were plenty of other people who were fooled (to the tune of $80000 for the illegal purchase of the specimen!).

So, I guess the distinction is: skepticism makes you ask whether something could be a hoax, even if demonstrating the latter can take a lot of careful scrutiny before you are willing to accept the interpretation. Paradoxically, skepticism requires being open-minded enough to consider the possibility someone is intentionally trying to fool you. That is the kind of skepticism everybody should develop, especially on the internet, but you have to follow through with an investigation to find out whether your suspicions of that possibility are well-founded. Here on slashdot I suspect that instinct is pretty well developed, what with the fear that clicking on a random link could lead to goastse [wikipedia.org] , regardless of what the author says it links to.

Go ahead. Click on that second link. You know you want to.

Labradoodle is real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990074)

Labradoodle? That's a real animal, not a hoax. It's a cross between a Labrador dog and poodle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle

Re:Labradoodle is real (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990464)

Real enough. But they are rotten hunting dogs if you are going after the elusive jackalope.

Interesting title (1)

engun (1234934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990212)

Who is forging heads?

Re:Interesting title (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990230)

That's referring to the piltdown man - a forged prehistoric skull.

Re:Interesting title (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990242)

and who finds striking either of their heads in a forging press enjoyable?

Re:Forging (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990770)

I hear we're making some head over at Sourceforge.

Trust and skepticism (4, Insightful)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990404)

Science is about focused skepticism, not general skepticism. It is very difficult to successfully peer review a paper that is deliberately attempting to decieve. Those usually need to wait until the experiments are repeated and fail to produce the expected results. Politics is a bitter, poisonous soup of lies and disingenuous spins where accurate models do not trump clever rhetoric and trolls will attempt to strike you down not in the search for truth, but just to see if they can do it. Science is hard enough to do without people deliberately attempting to set you up for failure.

Re:Trust and skepticism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990618)

The individual sciences are about focused skepticism -- the validity or their methods is usually not doubted within scientific discussions, for obvious reasons.
But there is a general skeptic attitude that any scientist should adhere to. In that sense, science is about general skepticism as well.

Re:Trust and skepticism (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990766)

When a scientist commits fraud and is discovered, he's discredited for life.

When a politician commits fraud and is discovered, he just goes on like nothing happened. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200499,00.html [foxnews.com] Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq

Can't be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35990490)

Nooooooo! Not the labradoodle!!! You can't take away the labradoodle ;(!!!

Epigenetics is Saving the Blonde Gene (2)

crunchygranola (1954152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990586)

Fortunately the disappearance of the blonde gene in females cannot happen due to a interesting epigenetic phenomenon.

As is well known, blondeness is fairly prevalent at birth in both males and females but fades as the individual matures, with most blondes turning brunette before the end of adolescence. But a remarkable phenomenon, evidently involving the modification of the blonde gene possibly through environmental effects, often occurs soon after whereupon the prevalence of blondeness starts to increase again. Most remarkable, individuals whose innate blondeness was never expressed as a child (they were always brunette), begin to express the blonde gene in early adulthood. For reasons that so far remain unexplained this phenomenon, though not avoiding males entirely, is almost entirely seen in females.

It appears then that this epigenetic phenomenon will act to restore blondeness to the female population offsetting any long-term trends to the gene's underlying extinction.

Re:Epigenetics is Saving the Blonde Gene (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35990850)

I'm sorry, are you sure it's epigenetics and not hydrogen peroxide?

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