Sunday, January 23, 2022

Only Fools Trust Science - Vox Popoli

 Science doesn’t even rise to the level of accuracy attained by gamers playing games:

Apart from a minority of professional gamers, speedrunning is a hobby, and the community is moderated by volunteers. Science is, well, science: a crucially important endeavor that we need to get right, a prestige industry employing hundreds of thousands of paid, dedicated, smart people, submitting their research to journals run by enormously profitable publishing companies.

Perhaps the very status of science is what makes its practitioners reluctant to pursue fraudsters: Not only do scientists find it difficult to imagine that their peers or colleagues could be making up the data, but questioning a suspect data set could result in anything from extended frustration and social awkwardness to the destruction of someone’s career. You can see why so many scientists, who hope for a quiet life where they can pursue their own research, aren’t motivated to grasp the nettle.

But the consequences of ignoring fraud can be drastic too, and whole evidence bases, sometimes for medical treatments, can be polluted by fraudulent studies. The entire purpose of the scientific endeavor is brought into question if its gatekeepers—the reviewers and editors and others who are supposed to be the custodians of scientific probity—are so often presented with evidence of fraud and so often fail to take action.

If unpaid Minecraft mods can produce a 29-page mathematical analysis of Dream’s contested run, then scientists and editors can find the time to treat plausible fraud allegations with the seriousness they deserve. If the maintenance of integrity can become such a crucial interest for a community of gaming hobbyists, then it can be the same for a community of professional researchers. And if the speedrunning world can learn lessons from so many cases of cheating, there’s no excuse for scientists who fail to do the same.

Not only is scientistry – the profession of science – entirely corrupt, but the massive extent of its corruption has rendered a) the knowledge base unreliable and b) cast every claim of an application of scientody – the scientific method – into intrinsic doubt.

The corollary to this is that anyone demanding that one “trust the science” is not only engaging in rhetoric, but is either doing so in ignorance or for the purposes of deceit.

Scientists don’t catch fraud because they don’t want to. It’s not in their interest and it has not been for decades. Never trust science. There is a word for the kind of science you can trust, and it is a distinct subset of science, being comprised of a hypothesis that has not only been tested, but applied in practice.

Trust God and engineering.