Monday, February 22, 2016

Quote of the Day (17)

This summary of a recent series of Twitter exchanges reminds us the claims of scientists are frequently overstated:

“To put it in context, some scientists and science fetishists on Twitter were in an uproar over my assertion that scientific peer review was not only unreliable, but was nothing more than glorified proofreading. They argued that scientific peer review was all about replicating experiments and testing conclusions, not merely reading over the material in order to make sure the author wasn’t smoking crack.”

Fair enough. The Russian proverb, Doveryai no proveryai (“Trust, but verify”) remains sound advice. Except it doesn’t seem there’s much actual verifying going on.

Lots of proofreading though:
“Finally, I asked a scientist how many peer reviews he had done. Between 10 and 30 was the answer. Fair enough. Then I asked him how many experiments he had replicated as part of those scientific peer reviews.

None. Or to put in scientific mathematical terms, zero. Also known as “the null set”.

And what did he actually do in scientifically peer-reviewing these papers? Well, he read them and occasionally made some suggestions for improving them.

We’ve written about this sort of thing many times before: here, herehere and other places as well. Short version: Backing down from biblical convictions simply because “Science Says So” always turns out to be wrongheaded.

If early Christians were told “Test everything; hold fast what is good” about the prophets of the first century church, how much more should we be more than a little reserved about the methodology, ethics and self-confessed agendas of a largely secular profession well into the process of devolving into a cabal?

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