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« Environ Mental - Josh 354 | Main | Happer days »
Wednesday
Dec092015

Self-criticism

It's a few days old now, but I have been meaning to mention a rather interesting article at Times Higher Education. It's about a secret dossier government dossier, warning that fraud is rife in biomedical research:

The draft "Confidential dossier on fraud in UK biomedical research" concludes that some research institutes, university administrators, funders, journals and science leaders have been covering up malpractice.

THE has also got hold of a comment on the dossier from somebody at the Royal Society, who thinks that although the dossier may overstate the case, it recognises the twin problems of malpractice and it being covered up by scientific institutions.

Including, presumably, the Royal Society itself.

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Reader Comments (12)

If ever somebody gets into government who is honest, there could be a major shakeup of all funding and institutions. However, I'm of the opinion that corruption is so endemic within government and all houses of power, that this will never ever happen. At the very best, they'll find one or three and investigate them. All others will be ignored, and the system will revert back to utter corruption within a number of years.

Dec 9, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

An acquaintance of mine who was a (very) senior administrator in bio-medical research has been repeatedly scathing about both the extent and scale of policy based evidence making - public health "projects" and pharmaceuticals lead the way (i.e. funding) in distorting or mis-stating results to provide leverage for "interested parties". That's not tarring everybody - but this area needs to have a clean up - big time The individual concerned declared themselves relieved to leave the immediate oversight / evaluation responsibilities behind - since there was intense pressure not to "disturb desired outcomes"

One only has to look at the way the academic establishment defends clowns like Lewindowski to realise that rotten antics elsewhere are also being indulged.....

An Admiral Bing moment is required

Dec 9, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Registered Commentertomo

The Royal Society has been selling off some family silver to make ends meet.

If they had not sold the honour and integrity so cheaply, they might have some credibility worth saving.

Dec 9, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The second comment pretty much nails the problem:


Well, what a surprise. Construct a system that links money (grant funding) and career progression etc so intimately to high impact publication (or even, any publication) and this is what's going to happen. Squeeze the sources of funding etc into the bargain and is it any surprise that there's a perceived increase in research fraud?

The current system is all about being published and very little about being right.

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Strangely there is no mention of this on "theconversation.com" (propaganda website for academic watermelons), they seem to be planning on being part of some sort of World Government, have they got no real work to do?

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

I've just been reading about Credit Default Swaps role in the 2008 Crash (i.e. betting on the fact that the sub-prime market would fail – against ALL the expert opinion that is was gold dust).

It would be so nice if there was some way of making a financial bet against the exposure of Green fraud in the scientific process.

Schadenfreude is all very well, but it would be nice to be able to make some money when it all comes crashing down.

Any ideas?

Dec 9, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

One way in which we can regard climate 'science' as special , is in that behaviours which would be unusual and unacceptable in other sciences, are in fact not just 'acceptable ' but honoured. We can look at the 'pal review ' process as being a classic example of this , it only works because 'everyone is at it ' so passing through what you know to juke is not a 'bad thing ' at all is it what 'everyone does '

In the past the checks on this would be others calling out this BS and the fact that you can only do this so long before the money runs out. But that climate 'science' is special is there is no sign at all of the amazing amount of money being throw at it running out any time soon , whereas the total failure of the gatekeepers , such as the RS, for ideological or personal reasons, has meant it's never needed to mend its ways or be called out, as this simply never happens.

It has in effect become a spoiled and indulged child , that thinks it cannot be 'naughty' because it has spent its whole life being told how smart it is , and how its poor behaviour is 'OK'

Perhaps the saddest part of the fall of 'the cause' , beyond the fact that Mann and co will never do a day in jail , is that the whole of science , and many good environmental ideas, will see a crash in the opinion the public hold of them , which in turn affects the political support they need. We may all end up paying the price of no-one saying no to the 'child climate science' until it was too late .

Dec 9, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Ahem.....fraud is rife everywhere.

Dec 9, 2015 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

JamesG - Indeed it is.


Richard Horton - editor of The Lancet

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices.

The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60696-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes

Dec 9, 2015 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

There's a difference between being wrong and being dishonest.

Following the best practice can still give wrong answers.
But this is about deliberately following bad practices to get the result you want.

In climate science it's the difference between:
A) Having no understanding and recognising that's a travesty.
And
B) Recognising that's a travesty so hiding the decline.

Dec 9, 2015 at 2:02 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Stuck-Record

The securities market should have protected the mortgage system from collapse. Only a very specific criminal operation could have brought it down. This is just one bank.


"US banking giant JP Morgan is set for a record $13bn (£8bn) fine to settle investigations into its mortgage-backed securities, US media reports say.A tentative deal is believed to have been reached in talks with senior US justice department officials. The sale of overvalued mortgage-backed securities was blamed for the near-collapse of the banking system in 2007".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24599345


Cassano sold hundreds of billions of credit protection in the form of CDSs without having to put up any real money as collateral as this form of insurance had been deregulated with the Phil Gramm-sponsored Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, signed by Bill Clinton.[7] When, in the financial crisis of 2008, investment banks requested insurance money for their collapsing derivatives, AIG was unable to deliver and received a bail-out from the taxpayers. Just one year earlier while discussing the company's CDS portfolio with analysts, he said "It is hard for us, and without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any realm of reason that would see us losing $1 in any of those transactions."[8]

In the wake of the scandal, United States regulators and the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office began investigating Cassano's dealings to determine whether they were just excessive and risky, or criminal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cassano

Dec 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Smiffy
Right on the money.
And let's not forget that in the UK the exceedingly well remunerated watchdogs, Mervyn King, Baron King of Lothbury and Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, neither of whom raised a whimper, let alone a bark, got away scott-free without even being seriously criticised and are now enjoying their obscenely gold plated pensions.
Let's also not forget that they were in receipt of whistleblowers' warnings that they blithely ignored.
Of course, Turner had much more important things to worry about, in being the Chairman of the Climate Change Committee.
No doubt both will continue to prosper for many years yet.
I don't think I'm a vindictive person but I do sometimes dream of them being incarcerated in the Tower, together with a good contingent of their bankster and politico friends.
It will never happen/

Dec 9, 2015 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

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