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The Forum > Article Comments > How to fix the broken scientific system > Comments

How to fix the broken scientific system : Comments

By Peter Ridd, published 10/1/2011

Because of problems with the scientific system, we cannot have faith that some of the big scientific theories have been properly tested.

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This piece reads like it was written by a biblical creationist upset that the main stream science doesn't give them the time of day.

Lets ignore the fact that the author is part of a lobby group for the moment and focus on what he is actually saying hear. It sounds to me like he is making a equal time argument, and guess what he thinks his views should get equal billing as others. Now to the layman it sounds like a reasonable request, after all why wouldn't you want to hear both sides of the argument? Then he adds a dash of conspiracy into mix to make is sound like he one of the few (Cater and Plimer) who know the truth but he is been silenced.

The problem with all this is it's so in accurate that it's not even wrong. Science has moved forward for the exactly the reason the author opposes. The best theories always win out, the theory that best models reality will win out eventually. The history of science is littered with examples of this happening time and time again.
Is the peer review process prefect, no it isn't but it works. To believe that making it more like a court trial will somehow make it better is to ignore the fact that many people have gone the gallons for a crime they didn't commit.
Science is the search for the best model of reality not the search for the best lawyer.
Posted by Kenny, Monday, 10 January 2011 9:06:44 AM
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In some ways it is possile to liken the scientific process to arguments in court but this article does not emphasise the self-correcting nature of the scientific process whereby theories are constantly tested against new evidence and, when evidence is not consistent with a theory, the theory is revised or abandoned. There are two main problems with the global warming debate 1) It is very difficult to actually perform an experiment in this area when the experimental system itself is planet Earth - so testing of theories can only involve looking at correlations between theory and observations rather than actually altering a parameter to see if the system responds as predicted. 2) The awarding of a Nobel peace prize to the IPCC set them up in the eyes of the world's non-scientifically educated people (the great majority) including most politicians and the media as the final arbiter of truth in this area and it is evident that they have made some assumptions in their reasoning for which we now know there is little evidence ( e.g. see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5933 )
Posted by michael_in_adelaide, Monday, 10 January 2011 9:11:25 AM
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Science can of course be used to "prove" almost anything. It all depends on where the money comes from, and the ideological bias of both the researchers and the candy-man who provides the gold.

Yes, the Australian "Environment" Foundation is directly associated with the IPA.

They are both very much a part of the corporate global public relations spin/lies machine as described by Sharon Beder in her book Global Spin.

They also have direct links with the "Heart"land Institute which is well known as a purveyor of lies, and which along with other right-wing USA groups was/is part of the USA Republican War on Science as described here: http://www.waronscience.com/home.php

The recent book The Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes also describes how the corporate spin/lies machine does it work.

Regarding the "science" behind Ian Plimer's book why not try Googling DEBUNKING Heaven & Earth IAN PLIMER
Posted by Ho Hum, Monday, 10 January 2011 9:23:51 AM
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This article is almost complete bunkum. Oh no, it's not the evidence that's wrong, it's the system! The science in question in this article is clearly really only 'climate science', not science in general. Science generally is progressing at a great pace.

As for the comparison between the court system and the scientific review system, they are nothing alike, and the court system would not suit your purposes anyway as the court system has 'double jeopardy' rules. Once a decision has been made on the evidence, that's pretty much that. Science is about truth and the truth can defend itself quite nicely, thank you. If you don't like the truth of what the evidence keeps telling us, do some real effing research. Or keep whinging about how the scientific 'system' is 'broken'.
Posted by Bugsy, Monday, 10 January 2011 9:28:48 AM
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Bugsy,

I wish I could dismiss Riddís article as bunkum. Unfortunately it isnít.

As you know from my previous posts I am far from a climate change denier. But I have been aware for some time that the scientific process is broken. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of medicine where claims about the efficacy of various medications often seem to expire around the time the patent runs out.

What shocks about the climategate affair is not that some scientists displayed a willingness to fudge their data. That sort of thing has happened throughout the history of science and will continue to happen.

What shocked me is the reaction of the rest of the scientific community. In the past ďscientistsĒ like the despicable Phil Jones would have been sacked. Instead many who should have known better rallied to his defence!

Peter Ridd wrote:

>>Once the paper is published, another scientist who thinks there is a problem with the paper may decide not to try to publish an argumentative comment for a number of reasons including the following.

They donít want to cause a fuss and antagonise a potentially powerful group of scientists who could affect their funding and future job prospects. Itís also not much fun deliberately knocking, and the scientist will get no thanks or extra pay for doing it. For an easy life, it is best to say nothing.>>

This attitude is not confined to climate research. It has become endemic. As Iíve written previously:

>>We have reached the point where the scientific consensus is what scientists are prepared to say in public without risking their research grants, salaries and pensions.>>
Posted by stevenlmeyer, Monday, 10 January 2011 10:00:34 AM
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Perhaps Peter Ridd, the Australian Environment Foundation and the Institute of Public Affairs ("Australia's leading free market think-tank") should exchange notes with Katy Barnett -

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11431&page=0

The first piece to be published under OLO's "Best Blogs of 2010" feature.

I think my thoughts there:

http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=11431#194677

are equally valid here (best blog of 2011?)

Disclaimer:
Peter and Kate are probably very nice people, it's just their free-wheeling and free-market assertions that are disturbing, but that's just my opinion.
Posted by bonmot, Monday, 10 January 2011 10:08:58 AM
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