You can also search for this author in PubMed                                       Google Scholar                                       Science

Is the biggest challenge to scientific thinking science itself?

submited by
Style Pass
2023-05-23 11:00:06

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Science is under attack. Ironically, the weapons are products of science itself: the propagation of misleading information, the torturing of data to ‘prove’ claims about anything, the mining of data untroubled by any hypothesis about what you might find. As Gary Smith writes in Distrust, “Disinformation is spread by the Internet that scientists created. Data torturing is driven by scientists’ insistence on empirical evidence. Data mining is fuelled by the big data and powerful computers that scientists created.”

Smith, an economist at Pomona College in Claremont, California, has form in this sort of critique: he wrote the 2018 book The AI Delusion and, together with mathematician Jay Cordes, the 2019 book The 9 Pitfalls of Data Science. Throughout Distrust, he underscores his claims with compelling examples. Take cryptocurrencies, one of his pet peeves. Disinformation and fake trades manipulate their value; data torturing underpins models that supposedly predict their prices; and data-mining creates them in the first place.

He discusses in detail other examples of science being under attack. He sets out how, for example, food-marketing researcher Brian Wansink’s claims about dieting — that people eat less if their food comes on a small plate or if their kitchen is painted in neutral earth tones, for instance — were featured in numerous peer-reviewed papers and led to two bestselling books. A classic case of data torturing and sloppy science, the saga known as pizzagate (supposedly the data were largely collected in an Italian diner) eventually led to 18 retractions and numerous expressions of concern about other papers.

Leave a Comment