Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryPeer Review

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How Science Can Slowly Morph Into Junk. Or not.

Science can become entangled in many things — politics and the self-interest of funding sources, for example — and chatbots will likely make things worse
It’s not an opinion that science is becoming less trustworthy; it’s an everyday fact. And the public’s deepening loss of trust in science is also a fact. Read More ›
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The Cancel Culture Mob Comes for the Psychologists

The response “It’s complicated,” chosen by nearly half of psychology profs, is a roundabout confession of cowardice in the face of mobs threatened by findings they hope to stifle
Cancel Culture at universities aims to protect a set of core beliefs from challenge by new evidence. If a discipline is to thrive, it must defeat the Cancel mob Read More ›
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Don’t Believe in “International Community”? You’re Hardly Human!

Who said that? Not a streetcorner doomsday crank. No, it’s the editor of a highly respected medical journal
In reality, the public's loss of “belief” is the natural consequence of the international system’s failing and betraying those it was designed to serve. Read More ›
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Is Psychology Heading for Another Big Replication Crisis?

The use of Amazon’s MTurk in survey research risks a second scandal in which findings are low quality and can’t be replicated, critics warn
In the first big replication crisis, the effort to root out a 2011 paper supporting ESP turned up the fact that only 36% of approved papers could be replicated. Read More ›
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Religious Scientists Balance Work and Faith — on a Knife Edge

A recent article in Nature both sums up — and typifies — the problems they face, weaving around the presumption of atheism
What benefits does the presumption of atheism provide? So many disciplines reel under peer review scandals while trust in science has diminished over the years. Read More ›
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Science Writer: Maybe We Need Fewer Scientists, Science Journals

Cameron English sees a rise in partisan advocacy as part of the problem of increasing retractions in science journals
English argues that science research, which is already mostly paid for by taxpayers, should be open access so more of us can see what's happening. Read More ›
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Can AI Help Stem the Tide of Fake Science Papers?

One problem is that science journals don’t do a very good job of establishing author identities. Chatbots are bound to make things worse
AI can help detect fake papers but it is not going to save researchers from a partly AI-driven dystopia. Read More ›
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Is There a Solution to Low Quality Research in Science?

Molecular biologist Henry Miller and statistician Stanley Young explain why statistical techniques like meta-analysis won’t solve the basic problem
It doesn’t sound as though any solution that doesn’t tackle the basic honesty problem is likely to work. Meanwhile, the public should not be blamed for doubt. Read More ›
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Retracted Paper Is a Compelling Case for Reform

The credibility of science is being undermined by misuse of the tools created by scientists. Here's an example from an economics paper I was asked to comment on
In my book Distrust (Oxford 2023), I recommend that journals not publish data-driven research without public access to nonconfidential data and methods used. Read More ›

How Data Can Appear in Science Papers — Out of Thin Air!

At Retraction Watch, Gary Smith explains how one author team apparently copy pasted missing data about green innovation in various countries

Recently, Retraction Watch, a site that helps keeps science honest, noted some statistical peculiarities about a paper last September in the Journal of Clean Energy, “Green innovations and patents in OECD countries.” The site was tipped off by a PhD student in economics that “For several countries, observations for some of the variables the study tracked were completely absent.” But that wasn’t the big surprise. The big surprise was when the student wrote to one of the authors: In email correspondence seen by Retraction Watch and a follow-up Zoom call, [Almas] Heshmati told the student he had used Excel’s autofill function to mend the data. He had marked anywhere from two to four observations before or after the missing values Read More ›

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Scientists Spar Over What a Netflix Science Documentary Should Be

Should “Ancient Apocalypse” be relabeled “science fiction” if archeologists don’t think the documentary writer’s claims are valid?
Berger’s confidence about homo Naledi’s intelligence rankles colleagues but he is as entitled to a documentary for his case as they are to oppose it. Read More ›
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A Case Study in Why Peer Review May Be Unreformable

McIntosh and Hudson Vitale illustrate, by their very zeal to eliminate pro-life researchers, the built-in corruption of the peer review process
The excruciating difficulty for peer review is Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” Bias makes it all worse. Read More ›
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Does Plagiarism Really Matter Any More?

Yes, if we don’t want a world drowning in merely private truths
In a world of no truth but multiple perspectives, what does plagiarism even mean? Read More ›
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Pew: Post-COVID, Trust in Science Dropped Significantly

Most other institutions have taken a hit in trust as well. But what would it take for science in particular to pull out?
Surely people in science need to recommit themselves to first principles like mathematics as a form of truth and evidence as the basis of biology. Read More ›

In Neuroscience Flap, Science Media Tackle “Pseudoscience” Claim

As the leading theory of consciousness is tarred by neuroscientists as “pseudoscience,” science media struggle to outline just WHAT science is
If materialism collapses — and this episode seems like an early warning — what will science look like? Will the same people continue to dominate? Read More ›
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Leading Consciousness Theory Slammed as “Pseudoscience.” Huh?

Integrated Information Theory’s panpsychist leanings are the 124 neuroscientist critics’ real target
Curiously, the coverage at Nature doesn’t address the critics’ concerns about IIT’s panpsychism. But it’s at Nature’s doorstep whether or not it’s noted. Read More ›
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Near-Death Experience Study: Brain Is Active After Death

Science media are making surprisingly few efforts to attack or explain away the team’s findings
In their Discussion, the authors conclude, “The recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine empirical investigation without prejudice.” Read More ›
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Science Is Self-correcting? Time for a Reality Check!

In the wake of the Stanford scandal, the reasons why science often ISN’T self-correcting are attracting much more attention
Decades ago, better informed people trusted ongoing science research. Today, “Trust the Science!” is becoming a jibe — and for good reason. Read More ›
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Is There a Boom in Research Dishonesty?

Or do some academics just feel sure they won’t get caught? Or that, if they do, it somehow doesn’t matter?

What to make of this news stream? ● Distinguished Professor Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School was recently accused by other academics of falsifying data in a number of studies, including one on dishonesty, where she was a co-author, Professors Joseph Simmons, Uri Simonsohn and Leif Nelson of University of Pennsylvania, Escade Business School in Spain, and University of California, Berkeley, respectively, accused Gino of the fraud on their blog Data Colada. “Specifically, we wrote a report about four studies for which we accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud,” they wrote, stating they shared their concerns with Harvard Business School. Therese Joffre, “Harvard ethics professor allegedly fabricated multiple behavioral science studies” at The College Fix, June 28, 2023 Gino, currently Read More ›

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Gloomy News from a Nature Article: Is the End of Science Near?

A study in the premier science journal notes the long term falling off of truly original findings, as opposed to endless citations of others’ findings

Science writer Tibi Puiu reports on new findings that reflect what many today, have begun to suspect: Over the past few decades, the number of science and technology research papers published has soared, rising at a rate of nearly 10% each year. In the biomedical field alone, there are more than a million papers pouring into the PubMed database each year, or around two studies per minute… The new study revealed that the “disruptiveness” of contemporary science has decreased, rendering ever diminishing returns. In this particular context, authors define disruptiveness as the degree to which a study departs from previous literature and renders it obsolete. In other words, a highly disruptive study is one that completely changes the way we Read More ›