Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Stanford Institute To Target Bad Science

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the so-you-have-a-phd-in-bad-science-eh dept.

Education 86

ananyo writes "John Ioannidis, the epidemiologist who published an infamous paper entitled 'Why most published research findings are false', has co-founded an institute dedicated to combating sloppy medical studies. The new institute is to focus on irreproducibility, waste in science and publication bias. The institute, called the Meta-Research Innovation Centre or METRICS, will, the Economist reports, 'create a "journal watch" to monitor scientific publishers' work and to shame laggards into better behaviour. And they will spread the message to policymakers, governments and other interested parties, in an effort to stop them making decisions on the basis of flaky studies. All this in the name of the centre's nerdishly valiant mission statement: "Identifying and minimising persistent threats to medical-research quality."'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

wheeewwww (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518509)

That could lead to some serious political backlash. Good luck though we need it.

Re:wheeewwww (3, Insightful)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46518807)

It needn't produce any backlash. Let's just establish from the get-go that anything that contradicts my political beliefs is bad science.

This is where the money is short sighted. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519007)

The Climatologists have the data - Compelling data.

And yet global warming has turned into this politically charged "issue" that has been created that way by moneyed interests who will not make as much money if certain policies to mitigate GW are implements - they won't lose, just not make as much profit.

What those people don't get, as things get worse - and they will - their interests are now in jeopardy. They will be labeled as the profiteers who paid for propaganda to slow down solutions. They will be labeled as folks who helped keep our heads in the sand and kept this needless "debate" going. Their money will be taken - lawsuits, fines, loss of business because they are liars.

I have one two words for them "Cigarette Industry".

They fought tooth and nail to hide, obfuscate, deny, gloss over, etc ... the truth. And in the end, they REALLY got it in the ass because of their actions.

If they just said up front, "Yeah cigarette smoking will kill you - one way or another - but it's out business and we're supplying what the market wants. And we are more than willing to switch businesses in order to save people and honor our fiduciary duty to our stockholders." they would be in a much better position now.

But they chose to lie and spread propaganda.

I think all of the folks who back anti-global warming propaganda should keep that in mind.

And let's just say that the one in a billion chance that global warming is just one big cock up of the scientific community (The odds are better that I'll win PowerBall 3 times in a row), we'll have cleaner air, water, less dependency on the whims of the international oil market, and our lives will be better - because we choose greener and cleaner energy.

Going with the Global Warming crowd is a win-win from my perspective.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519051)

What about all the pro-global warming propaganda; aimed at securing grants, currying favor from academic mentors, generating press, enlisting public support, and so on.? Should that be exempt from criticism?

Is that your idea of science? "My cause is the right one, therefore it shouldn't ever be challenged."

Science doesn't work? (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#46519969)

Should that be exempt from criticism?

Of course not, however you need more than just vague accusations, how about some actual evidence? Who are these greedy scientists and why do the criticisms sound like a creationist conspiracy theory? Who is paying for this "propaganda", what personal benefit do they gain from convincing people AGW is real? Why are these particular criticisms only raised on particular subjects such as AGW, evolution, and lung cancer? How is it that other scientists such as people hunting exo-planets are never accused of inventing planets "for the grant money"? Could it be because the findings from some branches of science threaten the power and purse of the rich and careless?

Is that your idea of science? "My cause is the right one, therefore it shouldn't ever be challenged."

The "cause" of science it to seek truth knowing you will never attain it. The "cause" of the billionaire neo-luddites is to make sure that critical thinking doesn't catch on with the general public.

securing grants, currying favor from academic mentors, generating press, enlisting public support, and so on.?

What exactly is wrong with any of that, does it not just add up to an ambitious scientist? Is the ambition of seeking the truth a bad thing in your eyes, or do you only see tax dollars going in one end and a "rich scientist" (lol) saying something you don't like coming out the other end?

What about all the pro-global warming propaganda

The pseudo-skeptic's reverse charge of propaganda from scientists is pure nonsense, sensationalism and exaggeration in the press is not "propaganda". Look at the technological wonder of the modern world around you for god's sake, propaganda is more than a mere lie, it a powerful psychological tool that convinces you that despite the futuristic world you find yourself in - (some) Science doesn't work.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520115)

I take it you are not a scientist...

Do you honestly believe I need GW to get a grant? I can just as well package my interest in global cooling, increasing food production, etc etc. I am doing fundamental research because something interests me, but to have a bigger chunk of funding I have to explain why society needs this research. Thus, I will connect it to something that society at this moment finds important. It may even slightly change the research that I am doing, but it is in no way required to do the research.

I do not believe that the existence of GW has any affect on the (rather small in some countries) proportion of GDP that gets spend on R&D, but if you have strong evidence for this, I am interested.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 7 months ago | (#46522873)

Well its a lot easier to get one if you mention it in your grant. Most of my colleges do it all the time.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 7 months ago | (#46528549)

Most of my colleges do it all the time.

You own several universities? I'm impressed.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520451)

Give me examples of all of the things you said and I promise I'll listen to you and seriously consider what you have to say. Until then, stop spreading misinformation and implying that such things exist.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (4, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 7 months ago | (#46520667)

Is that your idea of science? "My cause is the right one, therefore it shouldn't ever be challenged."

No, if you want to seriously challenge climate science orthodoxy (or any other scientific orthodoxy) you need to put in the work first to really understand the science so you can intelligently challenge it in a scientific manner. Repeating past challenges that have been refuted many times already or not paying enough attention to what the orthodoxy is actually saying so you can address it directly just doesn't cut it.

For example the recent claims of 16 years of no warming. If you analyze the temperature records since 1998 statistically it's impossible to say whether the previous trend has continued unabated or if the trend is 0 increase in temperature. The period is just to short. But that doesn't stop climate science deniers from proclaiming it as evidence for the failure of climate science.

Same thing with the claim that climate models failed to predict the current pseudo-pause. If you understand how climate models work and how the results are presented as an average of many individual model runs you would know that they wouldn't be expected to predict such a short term deviation from the average.

So if you really want to challenge current climate science do the work, understand what the current orthodoxy is and come up with something that does a better job of explaining the evolution of climate. Otherwise it's just a bunch of hot air.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 7 months ago | (#46527055)

I think the East Anglia Institute put the burden of proof on the people who think humans are making the world hotter.

I'm not saying that claim rests on ad hominems, naked assertions, etc. but that is the way you are contending for it.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 7 months ago | (#46530705)

The "proof" is summarized in the IPCC WG I report. [www.ipcc.ch] Refute it if you can.

The East Anglia/Climategate email hack and subsequent quote mining only matters to those already predisposed to disbelieve the scientists about anthropogenic global warming and amounts to practically nothing.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 7 months ago | (#46536647)

Might as well be the weekly world news.

Whatever claims are made in the report (factual, estimates, speculation, etc) rests on the trust you give those people. After the IPCC said snow was thawing at an incredible rate based on the 3rd hand testimony of some mountain hiker, people are finding it very difficult to trust these people.

Calling the climate gate emails (where the scientists admitting they had trouble finding reasons to keep out their opponents from publications and hiding the decline in temperatures) an email hack is like calling the Deepthroat testimony a privacy breech. Maybe Nixon's privacy did get breeched, but ... well ... there's a bigger story in there.

Predispositions go both ways, my friend, and I think you made up your mind a while back. Anytime I hear the word "proof" where there are two sides, I think someone is grabbing the mantle of objectivity so they can ram their pre-digested opinions down someone else's throat. The same thing goes for public policing of these opinions and playing games with the burden of proof. Most Americans see the shenanigans here, and I certainly don't see myself ever believing in AGW.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (2)

wealthychef (584778) | about 7 months ago | (#46519599)

this has nothing particular to do with climate change, or any specific issue. Politicization is missing the point. The problem is bad science. We scientists need to clean our house before complaining about politics.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520135)

i think society gets what it pays for. As long as researchers are underpaid, have no job-security, etc. UNLESS they produce lots of nature papers, it seems to me that there is a high chance that most of these papers are flawed. The problem is with the system, not with the researchers.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 7 months ago | (#46521147)

Scientists need to clean house before complaining about politics?!?

Try googling John Ioannidis and Koch brothers. They do not show up in posts were the Koch brothers give him millions of dollars, but the two show up a ton on conservative blogs. He's clearly going for the money. There's money to fund anti-science, unfortunately. f-ing ignorant billionaires who inherited it all (do you ever wonder why two brothers are so influential?) are the ones who really need to take a better in the mirror.

That said, it's absolutely true that most published research is BS. The same is true of *all* publications. That's the nature of the beast. There is still 100X more truth in average scientific studies than in politics.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519603)

The cigarette industry is booming.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

ranton (36917) | about 7 months ago | (#46519749)

[The Cigarette Industry] fought tooth and nail to hide, obfuscate, deny, gloss over, etc ... the truth. And in the end, they REALLY got it in the ass because of their actions.

In 2010, the combined profits of the six leading tobacco companies was U.S. $35.1 billion, equal to the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s in the same year. (Tobacco Industry Profits [worldlungfoundation.org] ) It looks like the tobacco industry is doing just fine. They made a lot of money while manipulating public perception, and they are making a lot of money after losing that battle. By holding out and making as much profits as they could for as long as they could, it doesn't look like they sacrificed their future profitability at all.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520337)

In 2010, the combined profits of the six leading tobacco companies was U.S. $35.1 billion

That just tells us how many morons still exist in the world. Yes, *morons*. They know smoking is bad for them, yet they *start* smoking. Rationality be damned!

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/dat... [cdc.gov]

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 7 months ago | (#46521801)

[The Cigarette Industry] fought tooth and nail to hide, obfuscate, deny, gloss over, etc ... the truth. And in the end, they REALLY got it in the ass because of their actions.

In 2010, the combined profits of the six leading tobacco companies was U.S. $35.1 billion, equal to the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s in the same year. (Tobacco Industry Profits [worldlungfoundation.org] ) It looks like the tobacco industry is doing just fine. They made a lot of money while manipulating public perception, and they are making a lot of money after losing that battle. By holding out and making as much profits as they could for as long as they could, it doesn't look like they sacrificed their future profitability at all.

Helps when your product is addictive.

Also, future cancer victims, erm... I mean smokers in Oz always complain about tax forcing up the price of smokes... they never consider that the manufacturers are just as bad (except that the money that goes to Phillip Morris doesn't build hospitals).

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about 7 months ago | (#46519889)

they REALLY got it in the ass because of their actions

What does it mean for the tobacco industry to have "got it in the ass"?

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519947)

I have one word for the alarmists.

"alchemy"

They also had compelling data, according to leading alchemists of the time. And they had great consensus among alchemist-'tologists'. Sadly for all of us, they were also wrong.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 7 months ago | (#46522033)

An showing them to be wrong took someone putting in the hard word to scientifically refute it. Until someone does that for AGW (unlikely IMHO) you have nothing to stand on.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520959)

I have one two words for them "Cigarette Industry".

They fought tooth and nail to hide, obfuscate, deny, gloss over, etc ... the truth. And in the end, they REALLY got it in the ass because of their actions.

can't be bothered signing in, and not trying to troll but last I recalled the cigarette industry continues to make a lot of money regardless of reputation, and I believe those controlling climate denial will happily have their name dragged through the mud, if that mud happens to also contain many more millions in profits. And shareholders will happily invest based on those returns.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46524361)

Doctors in the early nineteen hundreds established that cigar and cigarette smoking was good for your health. Any doctor that attempts to decent from this established science should be labeled as a denier and be imprisoned and or put to death. To deny established science is the worst possible thing humanly possible.

Re:This is where the money is short sighted. (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 7 months ago | (#46524533)

bzzzttt...
wrong [tobacco.org]

but don't let facts get in your way...

Flashback (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 7 months ago | (#46518515)

Does anyone else remember "The journal of irreproducible results."?
Anyway it would be a great name.

Re:Flashback (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 7 months ago | (#46518587)

I tried to make a photocopy of it once.

Re:Flashback (3, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 7 months ago | (#46519103)

http://www.jir.com/ [jir.com]

Appears to be the same dude.

Re:Flashback (4, Funny)

sribe (304414) | about 7 months ago | (#46519119)

Does anyone else remember "The journal of irreproducible results."?

The Inheritance Pattern of Death

Infectious Diseases in Bricks

Behavioral Genetics of the Sidehill Gouger

Golf and the Poo Muscle

Oh, in answer to your question: yes.

Space Nutters will be in trouble (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518535)

Will all their pseudo-scientific hysteria about the species colonizing Mars and Space Elevators and the questionable "science" of test pilots in free-fall playing guitar.

The BBB For Science (2, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 7 months ago | (#46518561)

Sounds like a great idea, but in reality it'll end up being untrusted and reviled by scientists. Set yourself up as THE authority on judging anything and the people you're judging will hate you because of your biases, conflicts of interest, lack of oversight, lack of accountability, and poor dispute resolution.

Re:The BBB For Science (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#46519059)

Depends how "meta" they are. If their careful and question peer review practices and point out common methodology pitfalls, they might do OK. Better still would be to simply do science: science that refutes bogus published results through failure to reproduce the experiment as described. While that's absolutely key for science to work, no one funds it.

Re:The BBB For Science (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46521413)

If their careful and question peer review practices and point out common methodology pitfalls, they might do OK.

And lets be honest, there's a lot of low-hanging fruit in this area.

Re:The BBB For Science (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 7 months ago | (#46519377)

Oversight already exists everywhere: peer review is the minimum requirement for publishing, funding is awarded based on what your fellow scientists think of your research. If they, for some reason, decide to have it not be scientists, then sure, that will probably be reviled and rightly so.

It will also depend on how they conduct themselves. It's unlikely to be a heavy handed approach "We did what was suggested in the methods verbatim and it didn't work, so we demand their paper be retracted!!!" isn't going to fly. If it's "We'll reproduce your results for free and you can then say it's been officially validated independently" then I suspect it will be wildly popular with scientists.

Re:The BBB For Science (2, Insightful)

wbtittle (456702) | about 7 months ago | (#46519941)

They are only acting as the authority to point out the problems. There are huge problems in epidemiology. The really useful data gathered by epidemiology is not the positive correlations, it is the non correlations. This presents a rather ugly problem. The data that people find interesting are the positive correlations. With the exception of 1 or 2 studies, these are pretty much worthless. The data that shows a link isn't there is what is really useful. This is the source of all the bad research.

If you look at epidemiological studies, you find lots of RRs, HRs, and ORs (Relative Risk, Hazard Ratio, Odds Ratio). The confounding factor that is ignored is the Survival Ratio. The ratio of the survivors of doing something to the survivors of not doing that something. This number is almost always 99.99...% One exception is lung cancer and smoking. The survival ratio there is 92%. 92% of people who smoke their whole lives do not get lung cancer. (some simplification here).

Re:The BBB For Science (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 7 months ago | (#46524553)

worked for snopes.

Oh Good (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 7 months ago | (#46518581)

A whole institute dedicated to starting every sentence with the word "actually" and telling everyone else why they are wrong.

No doubt they'll get 60 second vignettes on Mythbusters and Cosmos called "Why we are Right" hosted by some smug, bearded fuck behind a dungeon master screen.

Should get Slashdot properly lathered up.

Re:Oh Good (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 7 months ago | (#46518745)

Actually, that's not how it will be.

Re:Oh Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518875)

No doubt they'll get 60 second vignettes on Mythbusters and Cosmos called "Why we are Right" hosted by some smug, bearded fuck behind a dungeon master screen.

Actually, that's not how it will be.

Right, the DM screen would just hide the glory of his beard. The viking hat [rpg.net] will be enough to prove his credentials.

Can't Come Soon Enought (4, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 7 months ago | (#46518585)

And the coughing is twice as bad! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518905)

"Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red and inflamed eyes."

Re:And the coughing is twice as bad! (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 7 months ago | (#46521593)

It's the dying that really gets you. One of my best friends died of complications due to measles when I was around 12.

nerdish? wtf. (2, Insightful)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46518669)

Why exactly is "Identifying and minimising persistent threats to medical-research quality." even remotely considered "nerdishly valiant"??? That is a pretty important aspect of medicine that gets overlooked all to often by the pharma funded medical testing establishment :(

Re:nerdish? wtf. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#46519199)

You're reading "nerdish" as a negative adjective. I do not believe it was intended as such.

Re:nerdish? wtf. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519301)

Kill yourself, neckbeard. Science is inherently nerdy.

"Infamous"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518681)

Was his paper... ...Eeeeeevil?

Pretty much useless and wasteful (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518785)

The intention of this effort may appear worthwhile and good, but the result, as predicted, is going to be useless and waste of time, and may do just the contrary to what it claims. The key reason is that, they are addressing a problem where the evil are precisely those powerful people in the so-called top universities such as Stanford itself. Can they target anyone with power that control unlimited resources, yet fabricate data on a daily basis, for their own fame and power, and publish in Science, Nature, or Cell? Do they dare to? If they don't dare to do anything like this, but only target those schools that are lower in the academic ranks and those less privileged people, then what is the sense of doing all this in the first place? Eventually it will be simply another tool by those already powerful to evict those who they don't like, who they think are threats, and who don't knee down to obey their rules. Disgusting.

Re:Pretty much useless and wasteful (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518961)

I agree! We can't fix it all, so why bother fixing anything?

Re:Pretty much useless and wasteful (3, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 7 months ago | (#46519295)

Are you familiar with the original paper?

> Can they target anyone with power that control unlimited resources, yet fabricate data on a
> daily basis

Maybe I am wrong but that doesn't seem to be what this is about. It is less about fabrication of data than it is about poor study design that lead to false results. From the original abstract:

Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias

This isn't about people in power with control of resources or about data fabrication. It is about making avoiding errors that lead to genuine reports of bogus findings.

Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (5, Insightful)

Theovon (109752) | about 7 months ago | (#46518937)

It’s wrong to publish fabricated or falsified results, and people who do that should be slammed. There are other situations where people are being neglegent or hoping you don’t catch their slight of hand. For instance, there are the innumerable parallel computing papers that use O(N^2) algorithms to show a speedup on a GPU or supercomputer where there exists a serial O(log N) algorithm that runs faster on a PC. (No joke.) All of those sorts of things should be actively retracted.

However, what we don’t want to do is discourage publication of preliminary results that MIGHT be wrong. Honest, legitimate work that gets superceded should not be subject to retraction, and a wrong theory published can often inspire others to do a better job. When a researcher can say, “That was our best hypothesis at the time, and this was the most accurately we could represent the data,” then it should stand as a legitimate publication. Relativity and quantum mechanics supercede Newtonian physics, but that doesn’t mean we should retract everything Newton said.

Now, most people reading this will say “duh!” Because that’s obvious. All I’m saying is that we need to be careful to not create an environment where publication of preliminary work is discouraged in any way or where honest mistakes can hurt the career of an honest researcher. That would put a damper on science in general. The bar for retraction should be very high and require solid evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46519133)

However, what we don’t want to do is discourage publication of preliminary results that MIGHT be wrong. Honest, legitimate work that gets superceded should not be subject to retraction, and a wrong theory published can often inspire others to do a better job. When a researcher can say, “That was our best hypothesis at the time, and this was the most accurately we could represent the data,” then it should stand as a legitimate publication.

The trick is to make that statement when first publishing the research, as opposed to saying it after somebody calls bullshit on apparently dubious claims.

DISCLAIMER: this paper contains preliminary research - results may not be fully vetted.

Or something to that effect.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46519381)

However, what we don’t want to do is discourage publication of preliminary results that MIGHT be wrong. Honest, legitimate work that gets superceded should not be subject to retraction, and a wrong theory published can often inspire others to do a better job. When a researcher can say, “That was our best hypothesis at the time, and this was the most accurately we could represent the data,” then it should stand as a legitimate publication.

The trick is to make that statement when first publishing the research, as opposed to saying it after somebody calls bullshit on apparently dubious claims.

DISCLAIMER: this paper contains preliminary research - results may not be fully vetted.

Or something to that effect.

One would hope that even if the research is preliminary that the results presented have been fully vetted.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46526927)

Well, I understand that the first guy to do the research might not know everything there is to know; I doubt Einstein's first draft of the Theory of Relativity was his last draft, you know? But Einstein had the sense and tact to point out from the get-go that he very well may have been wrong.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46527113)

Well, I understand that the first guy to do the research might not know everything there is to know; I doubt Einstein's first draft of the Theory of Relativity was his last draft, you know? But Einstein had the sense and tact to point out from the get-go that he very well may have been wrong.

Vetting information presented simply means that the data is correctly presented. It doesn't mean that it is the whole picture. So yes, Einstein's research was vetted, even if it was further refined later (and that later research was also vetted). Publications need to take responsibility for the research they publish, at least to the extent they are verifying it.

There is another story on slashdot right now about bogus stem cell research. What is the point of having editors for your scientific journals if they aren't going to do any fact checking and just blindly publish whatever they get?

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46527327)

What is the point of having editors for your scientific journals if they aren't going to do any fact checking and just blindly publish whatever they get?

Fair enough - not much point in adding a disclosure if the people publishing the work can't be bothered to verify anything.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 7 months ago | (#46522061)

In effect all published scientific papers, especially those that break new ground are preliminary research. Peer review is akin to spell and syntax checking. After the paper gets published the broader field gets to weigh in and take their whacks at it. Only then if it continues to stand up does it become established science. Even a paper that doesn't hold up can still help you get pointed in the right direction since it shows places to not go.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46519195)

For instance, there are the innumerable parallel computing papers that use O(N^2) algorithms to show a speedup on a GPU or supercomputer where there exists a serial O(log N) algorithm that runs faster on a PC. (No joke.)

Except that while there might be some problems which have O(log N) solutions as well as O(N^2) solutions, there are still things which still only have O(N^2) solutions, correct?

So if you can learn how to solve a known O(N^2) problem better (even if there is a known O(log N) solution), what you learn is still applicable to to other O(N^2) problems for which there isn't a known O(log N) solution.

I'm not sure what you're describing is evidence of malfeasance, or that they're working on solving a class of solution, and not necessarily that specific problem.

To me it sounds more like they're probably aware of the O(log N) solution, but that's irrelevant because they're looking at how to use parallelism to address things which are O(N^2), because there's many many of those.

So much of math comes down to solving an equivalent problem you already know how to solve.

Maybe they're figuring out how to address a problem which is O(N^2) by one method, so that once they know how to solve it faster with parallelism, they can learn how to solve other problems which nobody has an O(log N) solution for.

It may not be all about solving that particular problem, but that class of problem. Because mostly it seems like we've never figured out how to do real parallelism except for things which are classed as 'embarassingly parallel' because it already lends itself to breaking it up -- like SETI@Home.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519561)

So is O(N^2) > O(log N) well that depends :)

O(N^2) algs *can* out compete a O(log N) alg.

However, it only works for particular data sets. Also if what it takes to do log N is higher cost than N^2 then the N^2 could win.

Sometimes it is simpler and cheaper memory wise to setup a N^2 alg but you are doing it 3 billion times it beats the log N serial implementation.

Big O notation can be wildly abused. as there is usually a '+ C' in there as well which many people leave out.

Most of the time yes you can safely chose a log N and get better results. But not in all cases.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46519639)

So is O(N^2) > O(log N) well that depends :)

Well, yeah, since it means on average this algorithm performs with around this cost.

Most of the time yes you can safely chose a log N and get better results. But not in all cases.

Yes ... but there aren't O(log N) solutions to all problems available to you.

What I was saying is maybe what they're studying is how to solve a known O(N^2) algorithm using parallelism to better learn how to tackle other O(N^2) problems. And that even if there exists an O(log N) solution for that particular problem, they may not be specifically tackling that specific problem, but how to work on the class of problem when you don't have an O(log N) solution available to you.

Even though you know someone has an O(log N) solution to a specific problem, you may be more interested in the generalities of how you solve O(N^2) problems, and the particular problem isn't really the point.

In other words, you're not doing the research to improve on that problem which already has an O(log N) solution, but to learn how to solve O(N^2) problems in general.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46522503)

So is O(N^2) > O(log N) well that depends :)

Well, yeah, since it means on average this algorithm performs with around this cost.

Well, no, since it means the cost of this algorithm is asymptotically below this cost function.

In other words, for small problem sizes either one may be faster.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

Theovon (109752) | about 7 months ago | (#46539337)

In fact, there are so many O(N**2) algorithms that they can parallelize that there’s really no excuse for continuing to use the ones that have O(n log n) versions. Yet they keep doing it! Why does everybody keep using O(n**2) n-body and shortest path algorithms? That you can parallelize those teaches us nothing about parallelizing algorithms unless all you care to do is benchmark the supercomputer (in which case there should be an appropriate footnote). This is just laziness.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 7 months ago | (#46519513)

When a researcher can say, âoeThat was our best hypothesis at the time, and this was the most accurately we could represent the data,â then it should stand as a legitimate publication.

Unfortunately, in many cases when people say this, what they often mean is: "This was the best a posteriori hypothesis we could come up with after trying out dozens of random correlations in our data to find something that could appear to be significant, and this was the most accurately we could represent the data after trying a couple dozen statistical measures to find something to make our minor 'blip' look more interesting."

In other words, it may well be a statistical fluke, but, hey, it is a "legitimate" way to represent the data.

All Iâ(TM)m saying is that we need to be careful to not create an environment where publication of preliminary work is discouraged in any way or where honest mistakes can hurt the career of an honest researcher.

Uhh, "honest mistakes" arguably should hurt the career of a researcher. If I'm an engineer designing a bridge, and I screw up my calculations, and the bridge falls down, my career should suffer. If I'm a researcher and I make a significant mistake collecting data or analyzing it properly or whatever, my career should similarly suffer.

"Honest mistakes" should NOT be punished as strongly as "dishonest" ones, but if you accumulate more than a couple significant "honest mistakes" in print, maybe people should start judging you.

I think perhaps what you really mean here is NOT that a researcher makes an "honest mistake," but rather that a particular experiment or set of research wasn't able to or designed to find some minor flaw -- not because of incompetence, but because technology or knowledge or whatever hadn't yet progressed to the point where anyone would think to look at things that way.

Basically, if a researcher screws up by not taking into account something already known (like misuse of stats or bad data analysis or bad methodology), that's a mistake -- but a researcher can't be expected to take into account that information when it isn't actually part of standard methodologies or whatever yet.

That would put a damper on science in general. The bar for retraction should be very high and require solid evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

I agree. The bar for actual retraction should be very high. But in this electronic age, the bar for significant corrections or qualifications which could be appended to an existing electronic document for actual "honest mistakes" should be lower -- it should be standard practice.

And, frankly, even if the research isn't mistaken, but is later superseded by more advances, we should start thinking about how to attach references to those sorts of things too -- lawyers do it when drafting a statute that replaces a previous one, to avoid confusion. Scientists should figure out a mechanism to do the same.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520845)

Uhh, "honest mistakes" arguably should hurt the career of a researcher. If I'm an engineer designing a bridge, and I screw up my calculations, and the bridge falls down, my career should suffer. If I'm a researcher and I make a significant mistake collecting data or analyzing it properly or whatever, my career should similarly suffer.

An engineer building bridge is using well established techniques and tools: bridges have been built before. They are often implementing small permutations of a previous design.

Meanwhile, a researcher is often working with something that has never been done before. A mistake is more likely to happen and in most cases the potential for damage is much lower.

Research is an iterative process while building a bridge is usually not.

Re:Don’t throw a wet blanket on science (2)

johnwallace123 (1173071) | about 7 months ago | (#46521067)

And, frankly, even if the research isn't mistaken, but is later superseded by more advances, we should start thinking about how to attach references to those sorts of things too -- lawyers do it when drafting a statute that replaces a previous one, to avoid confusion. Scientists should figure out a mechanism to do the same.

If only there was a mechanism to refer to or cite previous work. I know... we can call them references, or citations! Awesome, I should publish a new paper telling everyone that they should use this system!!

Fucking good idea (-1, Troll)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 7 months ago | (#46518983)

It's a fucking good idea and one that's LONG overdue. Huh wonder why it took so long for researchers to think of it , especially since literally every other conceivable aspect of reality, meta-reality and hyper-meta-reality has been plumbed.

Next up, journal of completely worthless careers spent discovering trivial "effects" within say, Human Computer Interface "research" that just don't matter , at all.

After that let's start a record of lectures by professors' that are actually, really, I mean in reality, incomprehensible because most of the language constructs they're forming literally make no sense even to experts ion their field or are just plain factually wrong or are merely recitations of advanced findings in their fields offered without first introducing basic concepts or how about professors who make it an art to rummage around in the theoretical junk bin delivering lectures about theories no one including themselves believes at all. That's a special one too. l Loved it when i mentioned mid lecture that something about the theory didn't seem right and my prof answered "just one thing?" and then toddled on through the whole landscape the rest of the semester.

Fucking college is a scam where the admin and profs suck the financial life out of their unwitting students like vampires and then leave their victims to wander, the financial undead, trying to pay off the student loans which finance their professors' lavish and hypercompensated lifestyles:

https://chronicle.com/article/... [chronicle.com]

Hello, I'm Leonard Pinth-Garnell... (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 7 months ago | (#46518995)

...and welcome once again to "Bad Science"

.

Just wanna know... (0, Flamebait)

TheDarkDaimon (3022989) | about 7 months ago | (#46519065)

When will they expand to include climate, nutrition and race studies?

Re:Just wanna know... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#46519219)

Those are odd choices. Do I smell a douchebag with political opinions that disagree with entire fields of study?

Re:Just wanna know... (1)

TheDarkDaimon (3022989) | about 7 months ago | (#46534301)

Quite the opposite. These three fields of study are the most attacked by people with political agendas. Having a way to sort the wheat from the chaff would be a huge benefit for these fields.

Maybe I'll "Remote View" this (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519159)

Brought to you by the same people who gave us Putoff, Targ, and Uri Geller.

It's one thing to point out flaws... (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46519345)

It's one thing to point out flaws in studies and say why they are not reliable, it is a totally different thing to have the purpose of your organization to "shame others into better behaviour." Isn't it enough to discredit a study for such and such reasons? Does Stanford need to start discrediting the people, too?

Taking on crappy medical research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519403)

Hopefully they'll be able to debunk the awful, irresponsible studies in Africa, conducted by American researchers, which purported to show benefits of male genital mutilation (circumcision) for preventing HIV/AIDS.

From our experience here in the United States, we know that having 90%+ of the male population circumcised did nothing to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 90s and that only condoms or abstinence are effective protection. Furthermore in Africa there is often a difficulty in convincing men to wear condoms, and now these researchers are telling them that they're resistant to HIV/AIDS simply because they've undergone a cosmetic surgery- that's going to lead to far less condom usage and much higher rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs in the long run.

Re:Taking on crappy medical research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46531461)

that's going to lead to far less condom usage and much higher rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs in the long run.

This is bad why?

Instead of this... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46519435)

The real problem isn't with shoddy research and researchers, the world has always had those. The real problem is the integrity of the journals that publish research. If they don't practice due diligence and report faulty studies, then they, the journals are at fault. The proper solution to faulty journals is to publish journals that have integrity and exercise due diligence. In a publish or perish world, not publishing shoddy research corrects the problem. What is needed is not the Stanford science police, but journals, symposiums, etc. with integrity that only allow the publishing/presentation of research that has been reviewed and vetted.

Sounds like a scientific gestapo to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519503)

"The new institute is to focus on irreproducibility, waste in science and publication bias, and any paper that calls anthropogenic global warming into question."

FIFY

yuo fail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519539)

= 36440 freeBSD [goat.cx]

Oh noes! (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 7 months ago | (#46519667)

Now where will we find work?

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to cooking up my results... statistical significance my ass!

According to the latest study.... (3, Insightful)

HighOrbit (631451) | about 7 months ago | (#46519823)

This link is blatant right-wing propaganda, but funny as hell. Especially the one about fish.

http://www.consumerfreedom.com... [consumerfreedom.com]

But on a serious note, todays NY Times had an "according to the latest study" acticle about a study that claims that all that stuff we've been told for decades about dietary fat being unhealthly is untrue. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/... [nytimes.com] . Now since this contradicts several decades of observation, I tend to take "latest study" science with a grain of salt and give more credence to well verified (i.e. long term) science.

The problem with bad science is that it gets reproduced in the popular press (and popular imagination) even if it is later proven false. Case in point: the notorious vacination-autism fiasco. Another example is the "neutrino faster than light" results released a few years back in Italy. As Mark Twain said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."

You can never fully discount the possibility that the guy releasing the results of the latest study is an attention-whore looking to drum up sensationalism to have his 15 minutes of fame. Scientiest are human and subject to the same vanities as everyone else.

Bottom line, never trust preliminary results.

Re:According to the latest study.... (1)

Opyros (1153335) | about 7 months ago | (#46520873)

Nitpick: that quote is probably not due to Twain at all [twainquotes.com] (see bottom of linked page); consequently it is self-illustrating.

Re:According to the latest study.... (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 7 months ago | (#46521689)

The fundamental problem is that false results tend to be much more exciting than true ones, and people gravitate to the exciting.

Bad Science isn't Always Bad (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | about 7 months ago | (#46520049)

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-case-against-copernicus/ [scientificamerican.com] has an interesting article on how the scientific evidence available at the time actually disproved Copernicus. It wasn't until much later that the heliocentric solar system was proven true.

I wonder if we start trying to police science too closely if the great theories of tomorrow that we don't yet have enough evidence to support might get tossed.

Re:Bad Science isn't Always Bad (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about 7 months ago | (#46524593)

So, your saying Copernicus could have been a time traveler?

Irreproducible Results? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 months ago | (#46520793)

Heck, that was covered a long time ago. [jir.com]

Complex studies are complex to repeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46520801)

In biology especially, systems are so sensitive that reproducibility is often affected by things like the time of day an experiment was done, or the type of shaker used, or the lot of an enzyme. Stating that unreproducible science is bad science is overly simplistic.

http://www.nature.com/news/reproducibility-the-risks-of-the-replication-drive-1.14184
http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(14)00121-1

No one will listen... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46521513)

Too bad most all science is based on theory or is so complicated that there is no way to dispute it. Like the article yesterday about proving the "big bang" theory. I read it, makes no sense to me, so I can not believe it. Doing x will increase risk of cancer by xx%, I'm sorry unless you know exactly why it increases cancer, and every scientist agrees..I'm not going to believe it. I'm sorry but if you say climate change is complicated, and then say just Co2 is to blame...I ain't buying it, give me the whole picture, not just a bite.

So if they post something against what a politician is trying to push (looking at mainly democrats) then the democrats will tell the news organizations to not report it, and no one will know that the study was wrong except the few who read the institute writes.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?