Sunday, October 19, 2008

Free Speech For the Dumb (Scientific Research Is Usually Wrong)


With so many scientific papers chasing so few pages in the most prestigious journals, the winners could be the ones most likely to oversell themselves—to trumpet dramatic or important results that later turn out to be false.
...
Dr Ioannidis made a splash three years ago by arguing, quite convincingly, that most published scientific research is wrong.
...
But Dr Ioannidis and his colleagues argue that the reputations of the journals are pumped up by an artificial scarcity of the kind that keeps diamonds expensive. And such a scarcity, they suggest, can make it more likely that the leading journals will publish dramatic, but what may ultimately turn out to be incorrect, research.

The Economist


Deciphering false complexity: what he's saying is that our need to market ideas to one another means that flashy but incorrect results are more valuable than being right.

This parallels democracy, where Pleasant Illusions are much preferred to Difficult Realities.

It also parallels advertising, where simple dramatic and unprovable claims trump an accurate description of products.

Everyone you meet, with a few exceptions, will tell you to simply conform to this order and to find a way to market yourself.

But like all cases of denial, they are thus inviting death in the door; it is better to thwart the marketing of partial truths and thus, false contextless truths, to each other than it is to usher our species into oblivion through lies.

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Subvert the dominant paradigm, don't be a solipsist.

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