Why is so much of Science now fake? There are many small reasons, but one big one. Our Expertocracy. Here is a small survey proving this.
Anon posted a cri de coeur on r/PhD about a week back. “I am an academic fraud”. A full confession of his role in creating Science™, including details of how much in science is fake.
But Anon had a turn back toward evil, or was coerced, or feared discovery, or the effeminates who run Reddit whacked both his post and the comments to it. However, a kind soul on Twitter was able to discover much of it at Arxiv.
Roughly, the original post stated that the man’s group engaged in a lot of fake, good-old-boy back-scratching reviews, data padding, re-running of experiments until significance achieved, looking the other way, non-testing of theories, a lot of outright cheating. He was sorry for what he did, and was shocked at how pervasive the practices were.
Not just in his group, but in those his senior colleagues worked with, too.
Reason? Let’s wait and see.
Here’s a few quotes from the archived post that contain the original (which somebody reposted as a comment). This is long but worth it.
It all started early in my PhD as a new graduate student…I joined a group…At first I thought they were extremely productive and were knowledgeable on just about everything due to their research output. These students/postdocs were averaging about 3 first-author papers per year, amazing.
…After submitting, my supervisor asked me to draft comments for my paper. I though of this an an exercise to imagine I am reviewing my own paper to find any potential holes that reviewers may ask. Except it turns out that I was LITERALLY reviewing my own paper. When I got the comments back I found that I was actually reviewer #1. It turns out, this was extremely common and almost every one in my group did this for all their papers. My supervisor has a network of “friends” who he requests as reviewers, who then let him give comments for his own papers.
…My name, being Western, could add significant value to these foreigners papers…In a few cases, [supervisor] even demanded to put me as co-first author on papers for other group members that I had edited many papers for…
…throughout the years I saw peers who clearly had data that was either fabricated or misrepresentative. A very common theme was to test the performance of something 200 times, and take the single best data point and call it representative. Literally the other 199 times could be worse than controls. My supervisor loved this and just cared about showing what is “possible” and everyone else in my group accepted this as normal practice…
Then COVID hit. I was writing my thesis but couldn’t collect data in the lab anymore…So I did it. I caved…In one of my chapters I had 8 sets of data in a figure but two were with a different set of parameters from the rest. I needed them all to be the same, but because of COVID and the instrument being broken, I had no chance at all. So I modified the axis to make the two look to be taken with the same parameters as the other 8. I falsified the results…
I am not a good person, and this has eaten me away from the inside…I just want others to know my story so that you don’t follow the same path as me.
This is China, maybe?
Something beyond money is needed for this level of deception, assuming the story is true. It at least rhymes with true.
Hold that in mind as we gaze upon this image, featured in today’s post header (see on the main page):
It’s taken from a newspaper in Taiwan, one shot of many that slipped by. The guy on the left is Taiwan’s Dr Fauci. This is a news conference at which, among other items, the importance of masks and social distancing was emphasized, because muh Science.
Using masterful Gimp editing, I highlighted how the plexi-Science-glass separator does nothing. At all. This proves much of public Science is a matter of theater, like everything else. Yet another noble lie.
Next, here’s an article from July: How Much Scientific Research Is Actually Fraudulent? We’ll cover the linked articles within in more detail later. For now, a quote or two.
A 2015 British Academy of Medical Sciences report suggested that the false discovery rate in some areas of biomedicine could be as high as 69 percent. In an email exchange with me, Ioannidis estimated that the nonreplication rates in biomedical observational and preclinical studies could be as high as 90 percent…
“More than half of Dutch scientists regularly engage in questionable research practices, such as hiding flaws in their research design or selectively citing literature. And one in 12 [8 percent] admitted to committing a more serious form of research misconduct within the past 3 years: the fabrication or falsification of research results.” Daniele Fanelli, a research ethicist at the London School of Economics, tells Science that 51 percent of researchers admitting to questionable research practices “could still be an underestimate.”…
In a blistering editorial earlier this week, former editor of the medical journal The BMJ Richard Smith asks if it’s “time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise.”
We still haven’t got to the Why, our main interest. Here it is. Watch it all.
Senator Rand Paul tears into HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra:
"Are you a doctor?…You ignore history & science to shame the 'flat-earthers,' as you call them. You should be ashamed of yourself & apologize to the American people for being dishonest about naturally acquired immunity." pic.twitter.com/yDt3hX4DsS
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 30, 2021
You won’t find a better example of the hubris of Experts than this. When asked if had any medical or science training to back his false assertions, Becerra replied, “I’ve worked over thirty years on health policy.”
That is the Expertocracy speaking. Memorize this.
Experts do not believe the Argument from Authority is a fallacy. It is instead their mantra. Do you think Becerra will acknowledge this mistakes after this dressing down?
No. He will insist he is right because he has Authority. His will is de facto law. All the proof he needs.
All know innately we live in a global Expertocracy (with many regional power centers, of course). The path to power is to enter it, to become an Expert. Nothing does this faster than claiming to be a scientist, and doing science.
Since not everybody can perform at the level to be a skilled scientist, fakery is inevitable. Shortcuts, cons, wee p-values as magic, outright fraud. Anything to gain the credential as an official Expert.
The Perversity and Diversity quotas, the lessening of standards and general inflation of all things in our culture is part of all this, in the obvious way.
The other path is the one Becerra took. To “do” policy in the name of Science, which in his name is equivalent to doing science. Hasn’t every coronadoom and global warming (to name only two) policy been said to have been constructed by Science?
There is no cure for this. None. The Expertocracy will not disappear. It is the Way Things Are in global politics now. We can’t vote it away. I repeat myself, but the only solution is to replace their Experts with our Experts.
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Here is the actual original: https://archive.is/r2sBm
Thanks, Hun. I tried and (obviously) failed to find it.
Having so many universities and university students doesn’t help either. Not more than 10% – 15% of people should complete tertiary education. Instead, most developed countries are somewhere between 30% – 55%. All those people need to do something with their “earned” credentials.
In my last yars of activity before retirement I have witnessed procedures similar to those described. After, I came across some more (perhaps “a lot more”). Things like that make me almost ashamed of saying that I have been a scientific researcher all my life.
Imagine how ashamed of your colleagues you would be if you were a retired physician instead of a researcher. That’s the position I’m in.
Ioannidis… how much more credible can you get.
Briggs, this is your best post yet. Thanks.
Matt writes, “Since not everybody can perform at the level to be a skilled scientist….” Yes, very true, but to that thought, I want to add: “… and has the moral courage…”
Sometimes it can take a lot of courage to let Reality matter more than you; more than your career, your reputation, your ability to remain employed. But that is the personal moral foundation of every true scientist: let Reality matter, more than me.
And I’m not just talking about people like Matt (though I am, of course!) whose arguments in his area of expertise are right, but… drastically inconvenient. I’m also talking about the guys willing to risk it all, gamble their lives, on a possible wild goose chase, a blind alley.
Science is hard. One of the reasons that Matt’s philosophy of statistics is resisted is that taking him seriously almost automatically makes science harder than people are used to, than people want. People do not want it to be true that it customarily takes a lot more than a nickel’s worth of effort to get a result worth a nickel.
On top of that, most honest scientific searching will fail. Unless you follow the Victorian model — safe if modest personal income, doing your work, alone, with a pencil and paper, or in your very own garage — even the most honest scientific research also creates a problematic nexus of money, reputation, funding, potential ostracism. After all, given an inevitable scarcity of goods, things do have to be sorted.
Most are wrong; few are right. Most are crazy guys with a wacky theory; few are the far-seeing genius. And money, and the ability to convince others to follow and to go on and go further, will ever be in short supply. Mechanisms for sorting this must exist.
Take something like ITER. Lot of solid science (and engineering) was done. But now, after decades, it looks like the ITER way to cost-effective fusion is never going to pan out. How do we find out that ITER doesn’t work, without trying it?
But if your whole field makes you sick? Morally repulsed?
Very tough. Did you, unknowingly, gamble your life on a con game? Very, very tough. Maybe not the toughest thing ever to face, but still very tough,
There’s no such thing as ‘science’ that ‘self-corrects.’ What exists are human beings, personal moral agents, and at various points along the way, they are personally going to have to choose between power, status, control, and Reality.
And I laughed out loud reading “masterful Gimp editing,” since that looks EXACTLY like my own masterful Gimp editing,
“Experts” are the rabbis of the infernal New World Order religion. Since Satan is the head of that synagogue, and he is a liar and murderer, as the Man Himself declared, we should expect that Satan’s rabbis are also deceivers and killers.
Briggs: “…the only solution is to replace their Experts with our Experts.”
Indeed, and to replace Satan with God.
It’s all about the soft money. Always has been since the 70’s. NIH/NSF runs along both a common academic bloodline and a common “science” narrative. You can’t get in the club with revolutionary thought/data. Moreover, current Ph.D.s are trained to be technicians rather than scholars.
Been there, done that…we’re f-ed.
I received a note from friend with a link https://www.orwell.city/2021/09/black-eyed-babies.html?m=1
I cannot claim that these guys are doing science. They are getting images and movies from people who are sending them right now.
We all know that Thalidomide was a devastating drug to babies when it was given to their mothers. How many mothers who took Thalidomide had “normal” babies?
How many “abnormal” babies born in the age of the Vex will it take for someone to be able to say “HOLY TAMALES BATMAN, something is not right?”
“There are many small reasons, but one big one. Our Expertocracy.” I thought it was money…..And money is sufficient. Always has been.
You know, if any of you would give up the delusion that YouTube, Twitter, etc are going to allow posting and go with your own social sites, that might be beneficial. What you are doing is failing badly.
Brad: Legend goes back before Covid.
But name an institution where this DOESN’T happen?
I was in mechanics class in high school and a teacher volunteered his car for a clutch replacement by the students. We put new clutch plates in the transmission and after re-assembly they couldn’t get the car into gear. I *showed* the teacher where the problem was. The release arm wasn’t in the right position and there was a set screw that was cross threaded. I showed the teacher and he said “I’m the teacher kid. Stop telling me what I should do.”
I quite that class and a week later they *blew the transmission out of the car*. I saw the chunks of the transmission casing.
Incidentally, the teacher whose car was destroyed was later accused of diddling the girls on the high school field hockey team.
Tell me how this doesn’t sound exactly like any board room or political situation? My disdain for “experts” is well rooted in experience. QUESTION EVERYTHING.
Someone get this to Swordy STAT!
On second thought, it might give him a heart attack or a stroke…seeing his cherished notions about The Science demolished.
Just last weekend a few threads back, in response to my post containing a link to Prof. John Ioannidis’ famous 2005 article “Why most published research findings are false” (http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/58674/9-63-fall-2005/contents/readings/ioannidis.pdf), Swordy was stumping for the supposed glories of The Science’s peer-review and “consensus-building” processes, and supposed self-correcting mechanisms that ensure objectivity and ever greater scientific truth.
For those paying attention and not blinded by Scientism, it’s long been clear that much of The Science is just as corrupt and fraudulent – “fake and ghey,” if you will – as everything else in the modern world.
Why is Much Of Science Fake ? because much of it is “social science” – an oxymoron if there ever was one.
or.. because the people who get on review boards for funding agencies are generally not scientists – some claim the educational background but you simply don’t get these roles without setting politics (esp the office kind) over science. As a result the money never goes to those who question orothodoxy.
1 – 15+ years ago a then friend demonstrated that people living downwind of windmills were given Asthma diagnozes at many times the rate of those who didn’t and posed a conjecture featuring airborne micro-particulates. He could not publish, no longer works in academia, and hasn’t been heard of for 10+ years.
2 – there is a growing belief among practicing bio-scientists studying the effects of gut bacteria on human health that women could be innoculated against having gay children. I predict (a) that this turns out to be correct; and (b) that it will take decades before women are quietly given this option.
“My name, being Western, could add significant value to these foreigners papers”
This sounds like he is working with East Asians.
They have a good reputation in some ways, and deserve it in some ways, BUT…
…this is a sensitive subject to some, but let me approach it this way. Somewhere along the way, we (the West) lost a cultural understanding which our forefathers had about these cultures, which is that they are kind of “based on deception.” It’s a key to understanding East Asian interpersonal dynamics, business, and really everything. If you go in not understanding this, you’ll be continually puzzled and continually “lose.”
People are constantly lying to each other, what we call white lies, socially mandated lies, lies everyone knows is a lie. The famous Japanese concept for saying something but meaning something else, with your interlocutor supposed to pick up the real (non-stated) meaning. It manifests in all kinds of ways. This happens everywhere, you say, in all cultures, including “the West.” But NOT in the comprehensive way it does in the East. And it’s not necessarily an attack. A lot of times, deception IS the far more pleasant way to be. Phrasing much more happily, this is partly what the eastern concept “Harmony” means.
But sometimes it can get bad. Some of the ways it can manifest seem just shockingly dishonest and dirty to us, but less so to them–or at least understandable to them within that framework. They themselves certainly understand it about each other, and they adjust. Reagan once said “Trust but verify.” The attitude I am referring to is more like “Do not trust, and verify while not trusting.” People come in all types everywhere, but the mainstream attitude in the East is ‘distrust,’ the mainstream attitude in the West is ‘trust.’
And so no one in China expects anyone else, someone they have some loose connection to or a stranger, is “telling the truth” as we understand it. As long as buildings don’t collapse too often, a lot of fudging, faking, and self-serving lying can get by. This is a highly complicated subject and a matter for comparative sociology or something of that kind, but has direct relevance to the Corona topic.
What happened in 2020 with the Corona-Panic was, I sometimes believe, in essence a civilization-wide con, in which almost all of the West got plain duped. “We” (or the critical decision makers and media agenda-setters) failed to understand, when it mattered most, that China was doing some variation on the kinds of deception-based academic publishing described in the post with this Apocalyptically Deadly New Flu Virus.
Once the West fell for it, it percolated down to the non-West, and the “Corona Cult” was born.
A recent take on Corona-as-Religion:
(See that link also for my May 2020 investigation into the Corona-as-Religion hypothesis.)
The “Corona Cult” became too powerful to dislodge, even for cannier types who naturally distrust China or etc. and who understand well the kinds of things I mean.
How are new religions born? I’ve thought a lot about this since the bizarre-but-now-mighty Corona Religion broke through in spring 2020. Reading this post gets me thinking: Something about cultures intersecting might provide fertile ground for New Religions, not cause them but allow for fertile conditions.
The vast, horrific virus-based religion we have now got its start when the West got duped by China’s lockdown. As crazy-seeming as the Hubei Lockdown was in retrospect, it was actually partly deception-based, i.e. public health theater and perhaps other angles there, as is the claim that there is no ‘Covid’ anywhere in China anymore.
This is the best yet Briggs. A real eye-opener.
E H HAIL
Good Freakin’ Grief
Do you need to prove your Vaccination in order to buy the Vaxxed items?
Science in America began a serious decline beginning in the 1980’s as the federal government started to become the (almost) sole funding source for a lot of academic and corporate research. The decline accelerated during the 1990’s, reaching a complete institutionalization sometime after the Y2K crisis.
The basic result was that if an individual at a university or a company stepped out of line, the federal (or state) government applied pressure by threatening to pull ALL of its funding. This created an incentive for all faculty members to police one another, because one bad egg could ruin it for everybody.
In addition, the education mess in the US has contributed to the degradation of science due to the gradual acceptance of cheating and its equally insidious Siamese twin called grade inflation. It grew out of the intense competition among pre-med students, who notoriously bragged about their cheating long before it became an accepted practice. Now, most students believe that if they don’t cheat, they are at a disadvantage.
Cheating used to be rare, and students were expelled immediately from universities if caught. But now, punishments for offenders are minimal, at best. Of course, the main vehicle for cheating is the cell phone.
Even the elites, like Ted Kennedy, could not escape expulsion from universities for cheating . Later, however, in the real world of politics, Kennedy suffered no consequences for his inability to properly drive on a bridge. The Harvard Lampoon, however, suggested otherwise .
The hard sciences held out until approximately 10 years ago, and now, practically everything in science requires some form of politics and cheating. The internet recently applauded Nobel Prize winner Francis Arnold at Cal Tech because she “honorably” retracted a paper after one of her graduate students made up some data. In the old days, the response would have been: “How could a Nobel Prize winner and some peer reviewers fail to properly check a paper before publishing it?”
Although choosing Nobel Prize winners has always been intertwined with politics, the research that results in the award now must also be politicized. The physics prize this year went to research by climate modelers, and the chemistry prize was fashioned into the politically correct “synthesizing environmentally safe molecules.”
I have been fortunate to know many Nobel Prize winners, and some of my best memories were with I. I. Rabi. For those who may not be familiar with Rabi, he is the person who clarified to Dwight D. Eisenhower that the faculty of a university was the university . Unfortunately, the faculties at most universities today are so highly polarized toward one political viewpoint that it makes any real learning impossible.
Sadly, the politicians have managed to corrupt and destroy the once exceptionally high quality of science in America, and it is a story that will probably not end very well.
 An important part of the tweeted video comes around 1:30 min when Rand Paul states: “You sir, are the one ignoring science.”
Aren’t “Experts” just neo-courtiers? If so, then replacing their Experts with ours should also entail replacing the court as well. Said differently, a different “court” (the ruling powers) should choose different “courtiers.” Perhaps this is the “top-down” fix, but what’s the “bottom-up” fix?
A related concern: the very structure of “Expertocracy” (the pipelines from universities to corps and govs) has an important (critical?) effect in shaping such opinions. Said differently, many “Expert” behaviors seem to be emergent phenomena of the System itself. If so, then any fix must also deal with structural issues as well (so, this appears to be both a “people problem” and a “structure problem.”)
Thank you for your posts.
When Universities decided that they were a business above all else thats when the pursuit of fact and ideas were lost.
Now Universities have CEOs on million dollar salaries, in Australia they have been crying on the legacy media to open up and bring back international students.
It is very hard to fail anything if you pay hard cash for your spot at a University
There have been many native born Australians who have complained on radio that instead of pursuing their own studies they are saddled with cash paying students from overseas, who don’t understand English and told you live and die as a group.
This has debased our knowledge base, many a time experts are introduced on the media, who haven’t been alive long enough to have experienced anything, and they sound as if they are reciting a professors thoughts or a textbook.
No this has to stop, business has no place in universities except as a subject.
A filter has to be reintroduced to select only those who are capable of academic pursuit.
This “elephant stamps” mentality has to stop, it is breeding mediocrity and we are suffering the results now in hysteria.
People have to relearn how to deal with disappointment are to find what they are goot at.
What we’re discussing here is basically what Feynman said in his lecture/essay on Cargo Cult Science.
Why is academia ruined? “Disparate Impacts”
Heard it all before. It’s pretty much the main theme of this blog now COVID-19 denialism has overtaken homophobia. Yeah, some science is bad, just as some police are racist, but the solution isn’t to defund the police, or to abandon science. That’s your reaction, because with you, it’s all about dialling everything up to 11 and screaming like a girl. (Apologies to girls.) It’s like what Churchill said about democracy: “It’s the worst form of government apart from all the others”. Similarly, science is the worst way of discovering how the world works apart from all the others.
If a sane and measured response to a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, a refusal to play along with politician and media-driven fear-mongering, paranoia, & Public Health Theatre virtue-signalling, and a refusal to become a Big Pharma guinea pig for a rushed and experimental gene therapy jab, constitute “Covid Denialism,” I’ll happily plead guilty.
As for the Churchill line: Like many of his quotes, its sounds witty, but in the end is just wrong. He should have stopped at “government” and dropped the last 5 words.
swordfishtrombone doing his part to make sure that his allies put him up against the wall first once the revolution is over.
It’s far worse than stated. I could not get a ‘research’ post for love nor money but attractive big breasted females with weaker CVs walked into them…….oh well, maybe I should transition!
I would hate for you to perform any science on me. You are anti intellectual and homophobic. The y need to revoke your degree.
swordfish: There never was any “homophobia”. It’s a press term with no relationship to reality. People do not fear gays, they merely disapprove. Your disapproval of Trump would be “Trumphpobia” by your own definition.
It’s so nice that Biden LOVES Putin and gives him everything he wants. No mean tweets.
Great stuff Briggs,
This fake science thing is wholly COMMON…
I once worked as a “quality technician” (mechanical engineer by degree) after 2008/2009 collapse for a 2+ year period of time for a contract manufacturer in southern VT.
During this time, I worked on multiple product lines, most notably though was the high end trial knee replacement parts (the parts used for fitment purposes). While working this job, we were tasked with the standard OQ and PQ medical style qualification of our plastic injection molding of these parts.
This was my first foray into the medical world.
The long in short there was that our metrology group would measure parts using a CMM (coordinate measuring meachine), an instrument that is extremely accurate for taking otherwise immeasurable dimensions, and report those numbers to the quality department for calculations.
I was the one tasked with doing these calculations… about 50% of the calculations would not fit the customer standard for qualification acceptance… so what did we do??? We did it again.
No, not all the parts that kept us from qualifying… just the 1-3 that didn’t fit the curve.
What happened if we failed 1 of those 1-3?…. We ran it again, and again, and again, and again….
No, we did not change process, no we did not change measurements (though we would sometimes change how things were measured… MID PROCESS and validation group)… we just kept doing it until it worked, per directive of the higher ups at my company.
At the time, I thought… ok, re-measuring once or twice… fine… but 10 times to wait for 1 good measurement??!!
During these re-measurements the following could occur
1. reprogramming of measuring program
2. ignoring other measurements that were in spec, and were now out of spec (basically blending measurements from different times).
3. creating new fixtures for just re-measured parts
So basically we were nearly or exactly PERFECT from the word GO! Nothing needed to change in our process to develop properly qualified OQ and PQ parts.
About the only thing that didn’t happen was taking say part #15 and using it as part #20 (though I would not put it past them to have tried that after I left the company).
The thing was, this was happening with ALL of our product lines… I became friendly with many of our metrologists while there, as I worked nearly hand in hand with them during my time there. They confirmed to me this was standard practice for them. It was their job to PRODUCE GOOD RESULTS… not just results with no bias.
Needless to say, this company ticked me off to a point where I burned that bridge on my way out the door…
The thing was… at the time… while I thought it strange and weird… I was told it is perfectly normal… and since this was my first job in quality engineering… who was I to say NO! STOP!??
Furthermore, they had me by the balls, as I had 0 leverage for another job, due to the economic crash…. Even though I was in a position WELL below me at the time.
Point is… this stuff obviously happens everywhere… the “experts” are always right if you give them enough chances to be right.
Even if the experts (scientists) would be at all times one hundred percent right, the knowledge which they together produce is still not even a thousand percent of the whole of reality. The role of science should be seen in that perspective.
The corruption of science is attributable to democracy, democracy corrupts everything, and standards are continually lowered. Democracy erodes everything, in all areas of life, nobody can escape it. Scientists are not to blame, it is a broad cultural problem, today’s scientists are a product of that culture.
I thought the Berenson book was very good. The biggest flaw for me was the lack of a lengthy discussion on how the government blocked alternatives to the vaccines like Ivermectin or HCQ. The recent RFK Jr. book was better in that regard. Recent books from Joseph Mercola, Simone Gold, Joel Hirschhorn and Tyson and Fareed also discuss these alternative treatments.
Berenson does a good job discussing the flaws of the vaccines but at the same time you need to show there are alternatives that are as good as or better than them. I attribute the lack of interest in this to a general lack of interest in the public to alternative medicine in general. I notice when I go to health food stores I usually know more about the nutritional supplements they sell than the people who work there. Health food stores can’t even find enough people knowledgeable about their products to staff their stores.
Most people think the big government health agencies like the FDA, CDC and NIH are only concerned about them. I’ve worked for the Defense Dept. for forty years and have seen up close how the actual purpose of it is primarily to provide high incomes for government contractors, top military brass and upper level civilian management. They’ll even engage in outright lying about foreign threats in order to justify high defense budgets so the gravy train can continue. What is true for my government agency is pretty much true of every government agency.
You website has some unnecessary horizontal scrolling on mobile. This CSS issue is easy to fix with some YouTube guide.