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« The illiberal Economist | Main | Acton's blind eye »

Shutting down the police

An article at Forbes discusses the recent closing down of the Science Fraud website, a crowdsourced effort to expose scientific misconduct, particularly in the life sciences.

Reading between the lines, the site's owner was a little careless with the reputations of some of those who came under suspicion and the ensuing legal threats did for his site. It looks as though he's going to try again, but utilising a different structure and a different approach.

That sounds like a good idea. Science, being a process that is operated by fallible human beings with perverse incentives, desperately needs policing by outsiders. It looks as though the life sciences will get their neighbourhood cop. Let's hope the physical sciences can develop one too.

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Reader Comments (15)

I came across this earlier, including the Retraction Watch thread. The comments sections has ballooned out now, but I agree 100% with comments by 'RuefulVictim' there. The fraud-buster Paul Brookes appears to have been a careless, prejudiced man who saw dishonesty where he wanted to see it.

Jan 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commentershub

The thing with most bioscience is that it's done with controlled experiments that can readily be repeated. The thing with "climate science" is that it ain't.

Jan 20, 2013 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

I wonder what Richard Feynman would make of "life sciences"?

Jan 20, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

radical, I think that video applies to climate science. "They don't know that they don't know"

Jan 20, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Registered Commentershub

Aye, shub. He actually says "social sciences"; I was just stretching a bit to fit with the above.

Just like so many climate scientists do, I suppose...

Jan 20, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The thing with "climate science" is that it ain't.
Jan 20, 2013 at 11:18 AM dearieme

As has been said before, if a subject has "science" in its title, it's pretty certain that it's not science.

Jan 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Ye gods, Martin! And I thought I was cynical!

Jan 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

I should have written: Feynman's video fits "climate science", as ordained by the consensus and IPCC, better than 'life sciences'.

But I am in the life sciences so I am partial. ;)

Jan 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Registered Commentershub

There was a department of political science where I struggled with my stupidity for seven years. I suppose one might have thought it a solution in search of a problem - the problem finally identified as climate change.

Jan 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

To paraphrase an answer I gave to an alarmist on another site, and an answer that I think most alarmists will have trouble getting their heads round:

I do not say that they are wrong; what I (and probably most other “denialists”) do say is that the evidence so far presented does not convince me that they are right. Where I am saying that they are wrong is their refusal to consider that they could be wrong.

That, as well as their rabid desire to shut down anyone who even suggests that they might be wrong. Science always – ALWAYS – needs to be questioned.

Jan 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

perhaps on might wish to take the time to examine Paul's published papers and see how well he has behaved. One could look at how fairly he cites his own work compared to other in the field perhaps.

Jan 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocmartyn

Rodent according to Sheldon Cooper Richard Feynman played the Bongos.
He didn't like the Nobel Prize either
Think Al Gore The IPCC ,The EU and President Obama could all learn a bit from his humility.

Jan 20, 2013 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Yes I saw the news referred to at Forbes as well - we will see how it goes from here. Taken together with this Forbes article-

you get a feeling of how things are going. It was noticeable during the November Presidential Election how easy it was for the Obama camp to run what was essentially anti-capitalist stance while being supported by the most rabidly capitalist outfits on the planet as mentioned in the article.

It amazes me how people are happy to be fleeced (even though it is sometimes indirectly) by the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Apple etc. and don't seem to realise that these people are just tugging our chains.

On that subject I see Tong Blair is making £20m pa. It makes the Kinnoch's reported total wealth of £15m seem paltry.

Jan 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Jamspid, having seen the rapturous reception given to “philosopher” Kathleen Dean Moore’s sick talk at the Nobel Conference 48, any faith I may have harboured in that institute (despite being a Nobel prize-winner myself*) has been well and truly ditched into the gutter.

*The way I read it, all EU citizens are prize-winners this year – the prize was given to “The EU”, not just to those selected to collect it (I mean, it would be silly having all 700 million of us on the podium, wouldn’t it?). Or do you think I am missing something?

Jan 20, 2013 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

[Snip - don't be rude]

Jan 21, 2013 at 3:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

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