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TagMatt Ridley

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When Science Writers Say Things We Hardly Expected…

Some science writers are monotonous boosters for Answers from Science but the better ones challenge themselves, and thus challenge us too

Science writers have the sort of relationship to science that automotive writers do to cars. Readers often hear a thumbs up! or down! about one trend, theory, or school of thought. But in the rush and press of news, we less often hear a philosophical reflection that goes beyond cliches like “Science is self-correcting.” But, every now and again, we do. Here are three recent examples. The “Scientific Method” is Rather Messier than We Think… Philip Ball, author of Beautiful Experiments: An Illustrated History of Experimental Science (University of Chicago 2023), discusses the messy truth about how theories win out in a recent article at Nautilus: Scientists often assert that their practice is governed by the “scientific method,” in which 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

Many of us grew up with the claim “Science — unlike religion — is self-correcting!” Why so many science boosters dragged religion into it was never clear to me. It sounded too much like saying “The chemistry department, unlike the (stupid) philosophy department, is self-correcting!” Oh? Well, let’s see then. Self-absorbed nonsense often followed, which only heightened suspicion. The recent resignation of neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University, over yet another peer-reviewed research scandal has forced science thinkers to accept a, perhaps unaccustomed, moment of serious self-reflection. Here’s a sampling from recent news, first from veteran whistleblower Ivan Oransky: You may have thought, given the voluminous coverage of this case, that Tessier-Lavigne’s defenestration demonstrates such failures are highly unusual Read More ›