Bad Science, Bad Peer Review

Much of the Western world holds scientists in high esteem beyond that which is fitting. They are not monoliths of objectivity, and are subject to the same fallacies as the rest of us; having a degree or scientific prestige is not a guarantee of morality nor objectivity — they have their biases and avarice, and those are clearly seen. Unfortunately, science suffers for this.

Scientists interpret data according to their biases and worldviews. They are only human. Unfortunately, their biases and moral failings affect their work, including the increasingly incompetent secular peer review process.
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Scientists are sinners like us reg'lar folk, and it often transfers into their work. Evolutionary scientists reject God and seek to utilize naturalistic presuppositions in the interpretations of the evidence. Ironically, they claim to have their own ethical and moral standards (perhaps they could have Dinsdale come around to bad scientists and nail their heads to the floor because they transgressed the unwritten law — cruel but fair). In addition, the vaunted secular peer review process has a passel of problems. Even their own scientists are dismayed by the ineffectiveness of their peer review process.
Science may be “out there” in the world, but its discoveries are mediated by fallible scientists.

“We can’t trust common sense but we can trust science.” That’s Peter Ellerton’s message on The Conversation. Ellerton, a lecturer in critical thinking at Queensland University, relays the typical triumphalist view of science as the rational alternative to intuition: “science is not about common sense,” he intones. Our intuitions don’t apply in quantum mechanics nor in what “feels right” about reality. It’s instructive that two examples he gives of “common sense” being wrong are opposition to gay marriage and unbelief in man-caused climate change. So while he warns of “cognitive biases,” did he warn himself?

Ellerton finds strength in numbers. “In science, the highest unit of cognition is not the individual, it is the community of scientific enquiry.… We are smarter together than we are individually, and perhaps that’s just common sense.” Let’s see if that holds up under scrutiny, based on some recent headlines. Does the scientific community deserve our unqualified trust?

“How did that make it through peer review?” In this PLoS Blog, vertebrate paleontologist Andrew Farke is slightly more cynical (realistic?) about collective wisdom in science. From his own experience for years as a researcher, reviewer and editor, Farke exposes the sausage-making that goes on in back rooms of journal companies about peer review, that assumed gold standard of scientific self-correction and trustworthiness.
To read the rest, click on "If You Can’t Trust Scientists, You Can’t Trust Science".