How Science Works Still Lost on World Net Daily’s Commenters

Posted: January 28, 2014 in science
Tags: , , , ,

I wrote a post back on December 18 about how science facts are misinterpreted by non-scientists, that basically was talking about how getting things wrong in the pursuit of scientific knowledge is part of the endeavor. After all, if things were obvious, they’d be known already. WND has continued their ignorance by posting a link to a Mashable article they headlined as, “Oh, Never Mind: Top 5 Retracted Science Studies of 2013.” Here’s what they copied:

In the publish-or-perish world of academia, the pressure can be intense for scientists to get their work out in front of peers and to secure more funding for further research — so much so that, well, let’s just say mistakes can happen.

Some mistakes are innocent, such as an accidental mislabeling of data or images that leads the researchers to an erroneous conclusion. Other mistakes reflect a serious lapse in ethics or common sense.

As a scientist reading this, I see it as “duh, that’s how science works, and making a big deal of it does a disservice to general scientific literacy.” Looking at the article, they are pretty much all medical studies. This was apparently lost on commenter “dan690” who wrote, “A couple of those thing cover global warming.”

I think the intent for World Net Daily was that if scientists make mistakes, then everything they do and have concluded is subject to being wrong. Again, as with the last post, perhaps a bit of hyperbole by me, but take a look at the top comment by “Chuck Nixon” (8 up, 0 down votes): “Remember Climate Gate? Those guys engaged in some of the very same shenanigans such as incestuous peer review and data manipulation, and yet they’ve still got their jobs. Why? Because they’re doing exactly what their masters want them to do.”

Or “Ruler4You” (6 up, 0 down): “IMHBLO, this story exemplifies the greater societal trend of low ethical and moral foundations that are also quite obvious in the observation of politicians. When your own integrity and individual honor can be sacrificed BY YOU for personal gains on the very altar of sanctity (the field of science “IS” supposed to have inviolable credibility) that the profession supposedly rests upon, something “IS” very wrong with how these persons ‘think’.”

I think it’s important that scientists admit when they are wrong. But I think it’s irresponsible of journalists to do these kinds of “Top 5” or “10” lists and NOT put it in context of the 10s or 100s of thousands of science papers that are not retracted each year and not shown to be wrong.

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