"Compromised science" news/opines (includes retractions, declining academic standards, pred-J, etc)

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by C C, Apr 28, 2023.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Your comment about politics reminds me of notorious examples of politics interfering in science.

    One was Lysenkoism in Stalin's USSR. These largely bogus ideas, whose application was mandated by Stalin, led to an actual fall in crop yields and set back Soviet biology by decades, because anyone who pointed out it was crap got sent to Siberia!

    Another was Deutsche Physik under the Nazis, which, absurdly, labelled QM and Relativity as "Jewish Physics" (Einstein, Bohr, Born and Wigner all had Jewish parentage, though Planck, Schrödinger and Heisenberg did not.): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Physik . This slowed down the progress of physics in Germany towards the end of the 30s - and accelerated the exodus of world-class Jewish physicists. It seems probable that it played a part in preventing Germany developing an atom bomb in time to save the 3rd Reich.

    So a couple of major own-goals, by political systems attempting to censor or manipulate science.
    wegs likes this.
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    It matters who does science

    EXCERPTS (Holden Thorp): . . . It has somehow become a controversial idea to acknowledge that scientists are actual people. For some, the notion that scientists are subject to human error and frailty weakens science in the public eye. But scientists shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge their humanity. Individual scientists are always going to make a mistake eventually, and the objective truth that they claim to be espousing is always going to be revised. When this happens, the public understandably loses trust. The solution to this problem is doing the hard work of explaining how scientific consensus is reached—and that this process corrects for the human errors in the long run.

    A raging debate has set in over whether the backgrounds and identities of scientists change the outcomes of research. One view is that objective truth is absolute and therefore not subject to human influences. “The science speaks for itself” is usually the mantra in this camp. But the history and philosophy of science argue strongly to the contrary...

    [...] A monolithic group of scientists will bring many of the same preconceived notions to their work. But a group of many backgrounds will bring different points of view that decrease the chance that one prevailing set of views will bias the outcome. ... Unfortunately, we’re nowhere close to achieving these goals. [...] And now, numerous state governments are trying to make it more difficult, if not impossible, at the public universities in their states, and even within the scientific community, there are efforts to derail the idea that it matters who does science.

    The soundbite “trust the science” has been circulating recently. This framing is unfortunate. [...] It would have been better to use a phrase like “trust the scientific process,” which would imply that science is what we know now...

    [...] Scientists should embrace their humanity rather than pretending that they are a bunch of automatons who instantly reach perfectly objective conclusions. ... society will get better and more just science, and it will allow scientists to immerse themselves in the glorious, messy process of always striving for a greater understanding of the truth... (MORE - missing details)
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Hmm, much of this is obviously the case. However I think the author goes a bit off the rails in speaking about the background and identity changing the outcomes of research. That seems to me far too strong, at least where natural science is concerned. (If he or she is talking about social science, I wouldn't like to say.)

    In natural science there may be a tendency for a scientist to have a view on what he or she expects the research to show and there may be a bias in that direction. This could in some cases be influenced by background, e.g. belonging to a school of thought on a subject. But it won't change the outcome. The most it will do is influence the interpretation, i.e. the discussion and conclusion sections.

    As for "identity", I don't know what that means in this context. If it refers to all these ghastly "identity politics" labels people seem determined to attach to one another these days, I would not think that makes any difference at all. I mean, how can the sexual orientation, or race, of a researcher influence measurement of the emission spectrum of singlet oxygen, say? It seems crazy to me.
    C C likes this.
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Facilitated communication doesn't even have a Woke or decoloniality excuse of being indigenous "science" or a non-Western practice slash approach. It's just "Ouija board" descended stuff.

    The journal "Nature" falls for autism pseudoscience

    INTRO: On May 10, 2023, the journal Nature stooped to a new low when it credulously highlighted one of the most rampant forms of pseudoscience in the world of autism. Facilitated communication, a method that was thoroughly debunked back in the 1990s, has come back, repackaged variously as rapid prompting method (RPM), spelling to communicate (S2C), or simply “using a letter board.” These variants are quickly spreading throughout the autism world. Apparently, we can count the editors of Nature among those who have been fooled by them.

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    Astounding: an era where you probably ought to provide a link to what "white paper" means, to avoid the secular version of a "holier-than-thou" zealot leaping on it as an artifact of racism.

    The numbers are in on how Biden-era funding is skewing scientific research ever-wokeward

    EXCERPT: “People should realize that [we] are paying tax money to fund science that should be going to help improve people’s lives,” said Leif Rasmussen, a research Ph.D. student at Northwestern University who has analyzed NSF research grant funding in a white paper titled, Increasing Politicization and Homogeneity in Scientific Funding. “That money isn’t always going to that [and] is instead pushing an agenda in which people have to use the right words,” Rasmussen adds...


    Increasing politicization and homogeneity in scientific funding: An analysis of NSF frants, 1990-2020

    SUMMARY: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the main governmental scientific grant distributing body in the United States, with an annual budget of over $8 billion.

    This report uses natural language processing to analyze the abstracts of successful grants from 1990 to 2020 in the seven fields of Biological Sciences, Computer & Information Science & Engineering, Education & Human Resources, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematical & Physical Sciences, and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

    The frequency of documents containing highly politicized terms has been increasing consistently over the last three decades. As of 2020, 30.4% of all grants had one of the following politicized terms: “equity,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” “gender,” “marginalize,” “underrepresented,” or “disparity.” This is up from 2.9% in 1990. The most politicized field is Education & Human Resources (53.8% in 2020, up from 4.3% in 1990). The least are Mathematical & Physical Sciences (22.6%, up from 0.9%) and Computer & Information Science & Engineering (24.9%, up from 1.5%), although even they are significantly more politicized than any field was in 1990.

    At the same time, abstracts in most directorates have been becoming more similar to each other over time. This arguably shows that there is less diversity in the kinds of ideas that are getting funded. This effect is particularly strong in the last few years, but the trend is clear over the last three decades when a technique based on word similarity, rather than the matching of exact terms, is used.

    Taken together, the results imply that there has been a politicization of scientific funding in the US in recent years and a decrease in the diversity of ideas supported, indicating a possible decline in the quality of research and the potential for decreased trust towards scientific institutions among the general public.
    Last edited: May 17, 2023
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Inside the UFC’s pseudoscience crisis

    EXCERPTS: The PI was designed to launch the UFC into a new era of combat-sports science by delivering “evidence-based science, innovation, and technology.” But to a physiologist’s eye, my eye, many of the therapies offered through the PI’s standard of care are more New Age than New Frontier.

    [...] Exhibit one: cupping. It’s obvious when an MMA fighter has received cupping therapy because the ancient Chinese medicine leaves large, circular bruises on the skin, revealed when the athlete strips down to weigh in for an upcoming fight.

    [...] Exhibit two: whole-body cryotherapy. Even more conspicuous than cupping, the theatrical pretense of whole-body cryotherapy is at least part of the appeal...

    [...] Exhibit three: ice bathing. The renowned ice plunge is ubiquitous among high-performance athletes...

    [...] Let’s quickly snatch the baby from the proverbial bathwater and mention some of the good work done at the UFC PI, including performance testing, physiotherapy, and strength and conditioning support...

    [...] How have bunk treatments made their way into MMA, and what is it about the current MMA culture that’s allowed them to endure and even thrive? We should first acknowledge that MMA exists within the wider historical context of combat sports... (MORE - missing details)
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    There was an earlier press release about such. This is just the same trickling into science magazines and interests at large.

    Opposing scientists find no clear evidence for gender bias in academic science

    The researchers rebuked writers, scholars, and public figures for lazily perpetuating the notion of widespread gender bias in academic science.

    KEY POINTS: It is widely believed that sexism against women is rampant in academic science, disadvantaging them in hiring, grant funding, compensation, and a variety of other areas. However, a recently published, 4.5-year review of the literature on gender bias in academic science broadly shows that the sexism of the past has faded, and female researchers are generally treated equally to males. The researchers behind the effort were on opposite sides of the debate beforehand and decided to combine their contrasting perspectives to create a complete but nuanced picture of the vast and complicated evidence. (MORE - details)
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Exclusive: Top-tier university in Japan investigating prof’s alleged misconduct

    Tokyo’s Waseda University is investigating alleged misconduct by an assistant professor at the institution, Retraction Watch has learned.

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    Texas dept. chair no longer in position amid university investigation and retraction

    The chair of the Department of Pulmonary Immunology at the University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center lost a paper last year after an institutional investigation found several issues with the data in the article. Although the researcher [...] is still identified as the chair on his online profile and the department’s website, he no longer holds that position...

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    Researcher loses PhD after admitting to fudging images

    A university in Japan has revoked the doctoral degree of a former student found to have manipulated images and graphs in a dissertation and two published papers.

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    Guest post: When whistleblowers need lawyers

    In my prior career as an investigative science journalist and now as a whistleblower lawyer, I’ve seen institutions react to allegations of scientific fraud in two ways....

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    ‘Compromised’ survey data leads to article retraction and university investigation

    An article based on results from an online survey has been retracted for data issues, and an Australian university is investigating what happened.
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Once again, ideology distorts science: the editor-in-chief of Scientific American flubs big time, wrongly asserting that sparrows have four sexes.

    EXCERPTS (Jerry Coyne): This is a sad story: sad for biology, sad for science communication, and perhaps saddest for Laura Helmuth, editor-in-chief of Scientific American. Over the past few years, Helmuth has injected a hefty dose of authoritarian progressive ideology into her magazine (see here for some of my posts on the issue).

    It’s gotten worse and worse, even though the readers, and her followers on Twitter, have repeatedly urged her to back off the ideology and restore the magazine to its former glory as the nation’s premier venue for popular science. But Helmuth is woke, and, being religious in that sense, simply can’t keep the ideology out of the science, just as an evangelist can’t help asking you if you’ve heard the good news about Jesus.

    The tweet Helmuth put up this week (shown below) is a prime example, and it’s pretty dire because it distorts biology—in particular the work of scientists who spent years studying the genetics and mating behavior of white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis)...

    [...] the popular press has mistaken this system for the phenomenon of “four sexes”, which is just flat wrong. [...] a misleading one that gender activists co-opt to say that “yes, animal sex is not binary”. They are wrong. But in fact Laura Helmuth did just that in her tweet, citing a paper from Ken Kaufman’s Notebook in the Audubon News....

    [...] To sum up, Helmuth is tweeting wrong things about biology in the service of her ideology, an ideology that she doesn’t just embrace, but has infused into the magazine she runs. Perhaps Scientific American wants to become Ideological American, but I’m hoping things will turn around. They would if Helmuth could simply adopt the idea that she shouldn’t use the magazine as a mouthpiece for her politics, but she won’t do that... (MORE - missing details)

  12. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Thousands protest Mexico’s new science law

    Researchers are preparing to march against legislation that some say could harm basic science.

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    Russia says hypersonic missile scientists face 'very serious' treason accusations

    The cases showed that "any article or report can lead to accusations of high treason", the open letter said.

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    Retraction: Physio-metabolic and clinical consequences of wearing face masks -Systematic review with meta-analysis and comprehensive evaluation

    Following publication, concerns were raised regarding the scientific validity of the article.

    A Twitter thread focusing on its problems

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    Indian PhDs, professors are paying to publish in real-sounding, fake journals. It’s a racket

    Editors of lesser-known Scopus-indexed journals offer to publish papers for Rs 5,000. And for the right price, ghost writers will write an entire research paper for a ‘client’.

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    The Newest College Admissions Ploy: Paying to Make Your Teen a “Peer-Reviewed” Author

    A group of services, often connected to pricey college counselors, has arisen to help high schoolers carry out and publish research as a credential for their college applications. The research papers — and the publications — can be dubious.

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    The peer-review process is in need of some scrutiny

    The process that Einstein found so offensive was still a novelty in 1936. It’s now called “peer review,” and it is the foundation upon which all academic publishing rests. [...] But today, that foundation is teetering, collapsing from the weight of its own contradictions.

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    Is it the beginning of the end for scientific publishing?

    More than 40 leading scientists have resigned en masse from the editorial board of a top science journal in protest at what they describe as the ‘greed’ of the publisher. Ian Sample speaks to correspondent Hannah Devlin about the remarkably lucrative business of scientific publishing, hears from Prof Chris Chambers about what was behind the recent mass resignation, and finds out why researchers are demanding change.
    Last edited: May 20, 2023
  13. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    The myth of value-free science (philosophy of science)

    EXCERPTS: We demand a lot from scientists. They are required to be objective, rigorous, and accurate, and to conduct their work free from the constraints of religion or politics...

    [...] The risks of prejudiced exploitation of scientific knowledge are increased by a pernicious myth about science that scientists would do well to acknowledge. It is the myth that science is objective and value-free. Conceptualising science as a bias-free form of knowledge gives scientific research a powerful kind of authority. And this characterization is indispensable to those that wish to exploit or weaponize it.

    Let’s consider the history of eugenics...

    [...] The point here is that interpretation of science is everything. And the interpretation, from start to finish, unfolds in a subjective landscape. ... science is “saturated” in values. Every stage of the scientific process, from study choices to who receives funding, involves value judgements about what project is more meaningful than another...

    Then there is the problem of the “underdetermination” of scientific theory by evidence...

    [...] Yet the myth of value-free science is seductive because it offers the promise of authority wrapped up in the idea that science might be free from the biases of the human mind. But no human endeavour is neutral and objective in this way...

    [...] Think of the idea of justice... no conceptions of justice have ever ascended cleanly from the highly conditional human world. When it comes to human affairs, neutrality is an impossible dream.

    But before we wag our fingers at scientists, we, too, must accept some responsibility. Throughout their work, the scientist is expected to remain in a state of objectivity, yet our subsequent interpretation of science is woefully value-laden, and inherently skewed by biases about our own knowledge...

    [...] What we should ... recognize the presence of uncertainty, and to subject the process to scrutiny. Many good scientists do this already – they are alert to what they don’t know and the risks of misinterpreting their results. But it should be imperative that these gaps are communicated transparently... (MORE - missing details)

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    Science and Ideology

    INTRO: This article illustrates some of the relationships between science and ideologies. It discusses how science has been enlisted to support particular ideologies and how ideologies have influenced the processes and interpretations of scientific inquiry.

    An example from the biological sciences illustrates this. In the early 20th century, evolutionary theory was used to support socialism and laissez-faire capitalism. Those two competing ideologies were justified by appeal to biological claims about the nature of evolution.

    Those justifications may seem puzzling. If science claims to generate only a limited set of facts about the world—say, the mechanisms of biological diversification—it is unclear how they could inform anything so far removed as economic theory. Part of the answer is that the process of interpreting and applying scientific theories can generate divergent results. Despite science’s capacities to render some exceedingly clear and well-verified central cases, its broader uses can become intertwined with separate knowledge claims, values, and ideologies. Thus, the apparently clear deliverances of natural sciences have been leveraged to endorse competing views.

    Rightly or wrongly, this leveraging has long been part of the aims and practice of scientists... (MORE - details)
  14. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    The EPA uses shoddy science and the courts to drive activist regulation

    INTRO: During his long-overdue testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture in April, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan complained about antipesticide groups tying up his agency’s resources via the courts, but he and his agency only have themselves to blame. The courts are forcing change largely because EPA invites lawsuits — perpetuating its reputation for a lack of scientific integrity in the process.

    For years, antipesticide groups have sued EPA in the famously liberal 9th Circuit for allegedly making registration decisions without substantial scientific evidence, which would violate EPA’s mandate under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

    The EPA has been sympathetic to the very activist groups that were suing it, even requesting permission from the courts to “reevaluate” the accuracy of its own work.

    The EPA then uses faulty models, outdated data, and junk studies to propose and justify new regulations clearly designed to satisfy antipesticide activists, placate the courts, and play to President Joe Biden’s liberal base — all under the guise of “following the science.” (MORE - details)

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    Evidence-based medicine vs. basic science in medical school

    Last week Dr. Vinay Prasad wrote a Substack arguing that medical students should learn the principles of evidence-based medicine before basic science.This is a recipe for amplifying the main flaw in EBM that science-based medicine was meant to correct, and Dr. Prasad’s arguments would have been right at home on an integrative medicine blog.

    EXCERPTS (David Gorski): Since we hit the 15-year anniversary of this blog, I’ve been thinking more about the overall concept of science-based medicine (SBM) as compared to the evidence-based medicine (EBM) [...]

    [....] I will also add this caution: EBM is correct that “first principles” in basic science cannot tell you whether a treatment works or not—except for scientifically impossible treatment modalities like homeopathy, that is. Aside from testing treatments that violate multiple well-established laws of physics, RCTs are indeed necessary to determine if a treatment is safe and effective.

    It is also true that history is littered with treatments that appeared effective in preclinical in vitro and animal models but failed to pan out in clinical trials, a point that Dr. Prasad alludes to, as you will see, but using an argument that can backfire. However, in contrast, if very well-established basic science tells you that a treatment modality is impossible and cannot work, that (like homeopathy) and would require that multiple well-established laws and theories of chemistry and physics be not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong, in order for it to “work,” then that should be enough. RCTs should not be necessary. Indeed, they would arguably be unethical, because one of the major ethical requirements for clinical trials is that the treatment being tested be grounded in good science based on what is known at the time of the trial, and clinical trials of many alternative medicine modalities (e.g., homeopathy, reflexology, reiki, and more) violate this precept.

    Contrary to straw man attacks against SBM, we only ever intended the idea of considering prior plausibility as a way of ruling out impossible treatments like homeopathy without RCTs... (MORE - missing details)

  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    A mental-health crisis is gripping science — toxic research culture is to blame

    INTRO: There is a mental-health crisis in science — at all career stages and across the world. Graduate students are being harassed and discriminated against, paid meagre wages, bullied, overworked and sometimes sexually assaulted. It doesn’t get much better for early-career researchers struggling to land long-term employment. And established senior researchers face immense pressure to win grants, publish in high-profile journals and maintain their reputations in highly competitive fields.

    Scientists have raised concerns for years about the impacts of all these pressures on mental health. But a series of studies in the past few years are now providing hard data. And the findings show that the situation is dire.

    Researchers are much more likely than the general population to experience depression and anxiety. And although the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in mental-health struggles, many argue that it only exacerbated problems that were already present. The recent studies, which have collectively surveyed tens of thousands of researchers worldwide, suggest that scientists’ mental-health struggles are a direct result of a toxic research culture.

    That is particularly true for members of under-represented groups, including women, non-binary individuals, people of colour, those from sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQ+) and students on low incomes. But they also affect senior researchers and scientists in different countries... (MORE - details)
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    No, you don't have a reptilian brain inside your brain

    INTRO: The reptilian brain is often blamed for our primitive instincts that can trigger fight, flight or freeze responses in us. However, it is a myth that part of our brain originates from reptiles, says Christian Krog Tamnes.

    “Those of us who research brain development and brain evolution have known for quite some time that this isn’t true,” says the professor at the University of Oslo’s Department of Psychology. The concept of a reptilian brain is part of the myth of the triune brain, a theory that was conceived by the doctor Paul D. MacLean in the 1960s... (MORE - missing detail)
  17. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Three journals’ web domains expired. Then major indexes pointed to hijacked versions

    Have you heard about hijacked journals, which take over legitimate publications’ titles, ISSNs, and other metadata without their permission? We recently launched the Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker, and will be publishing regular posts like this one to tell the stories of some of those cases.

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    After backlash, publisher to retract article that surveyed parents of children with gender dysphoria, says co-author

    "Springer Nature" will retract an article that reported results of a survey of parents who thought their children’s gender dysphoria resulted from social contagion. The move is “due to concerns about lack of informed consent,” according to tweets by one of the paper’s authors.

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    ‘Stop playing with my life,’ researcher about to be up to 10 retractions asks sleuth

    A researcher who used similar, related, or identical research to publish over 30 studies in various academic journals will have four more of those papers retracted, bringing his total to ten retractions...

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    Dutch university can revoke PhD for fake data, court rules

    “I think it is very important that we now have a court ruling showing a university can revoke a doctorate that was granted under false pretenses,” Arthur Mol, rector magnificus of Wageningen University...
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Top mathematicians warn curriculum being ‘politicised’ with diversity guidance

    INTRO: More than 50 of Britain’s leading mathematicians have accused standards bosses of politicising the curriculum with new diversity guidance. Academics at top UK universities have signed an open letter criticising guidance on academic standards that states that values of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) “should permeate the curriculum and every aspect of the learning experience”.

    The guidance was published in March by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), an independent body that receives membership fees from more than 300 UK higher education providers and distributes advice on courses. In an open letter, the mathematicians write: “We reject the QAA’s insistence on politicising the mathematical curriculum.

    “We believe the only thing that should permeate the mathematics curriculum is mathematics. Academics should teach from a perspective informed by their academic experience, not from a political perspective determined by the QAA. “Students should be able to study mathematics without also being required to pay for their own political indoctrination.” (MORE - details)
  19. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Nerve regeneration paper retracted over faked data

    The authors of a paper on the role of immune cells in directing nerve regeneration have withdrawn their study after the lead investigator admitted to admitted to falsifying data in two figures.

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    NIH toughens enforcement of delayed clinical trials reporting

    Agency says it has brought more than 200 tardy investigators into compliance since July 2022.

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    Ghosted in science: how to move on when a potential collaborator suddenly stops responding

    Ghosting is well known in online dating: after exchanging messages, and perhaps even meeting in person, one person disappears forever, sinking into the online abyss. But this doesn’t happen in just the world of romance. It can also happen in science.

    Having been ghosted professionally, I know how emotionally wrecking this experience can be. The lack of information can be stressful. If a person tells you clearly that they don’t wish to or cannot work with you any longer, you can deal with the rejection and move on. But the ambiguity of ghosting can haunt you.

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    Point of View: Beware ‘persuasive communication devices’ when writing and reading scientific articles

    Authors rely on a range of devices and techniques to attract and maintain the interest of readers, and to convince them of the merits of the author’s point of view. However, when writing a scientific article, authors must use these ‘persuasive communication devices’ carefully. In particular, they must be explicit about the limitations of their work, avoid obfuscation, and resist the temptation to oversell their results. Here we discuss a list of persuasive communication devices and we encourage authors, as well as reviewers and editors, to think carefully about their use.

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    Using AI in peer review

    Automation in peer review predates generative AI. Computer assistance with specific tasks, such as screening references, plagiarism detection and checking compliance with journal policies, has become commonplace. Generative AI, however, could significantly increase both the number of automated tasks and the degree to which they can be automated, benefiting specific parties within the peer review system.

    [...] However, there are also reasons for concern. Developers of LLMs do not reveal how their models are trained. Their output can be unreliable—LLMs are known to ‘hallucinate’. ... Moreover, LLMs are inherently conservative because they are trained on past data, so tools using such models may reproduce or amplify existing biases. The opacity around how models use data and prompts raises concerns about data security, intellectual property rights, copyright and the confidentiality of authors and research subjects. And while the technology’s rapid enhancement is desirable or even required to keep up with research frontiers, it also means that AI-assisted reviewing cannot always be reproducible.

    Beyond all of this, there are specific issues related to using generative AI in peer review...

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    Fighting claims of research misconduct, Stanford’s president isn’t pulling punches

    Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne is in hot water.

    Since last fall, allegations of image manipulation in scientific papers for which Tessier-Lavigne is listed as an author have spurred questions about his decades-long scientific career. While members of Stanford’s Board of Trustees and several outside legal and scientific experts review the claims of scientific misconduct, Tessier-Lavigne has remained at the helm of one of the world’s premier research institutions.

    His unusual position as president-under-investigation mirrors an unusual public-relations approach. Instead of staying silent, as many embattled leaders do during an investigation, Tessier-Lavigne has vocally defended his actions, criticized the student newspaper in harsh terms, and cast himself as a faculty member first and president second.
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Astronomical hoaxes throughout the ages

    From men on the Moon to doomsday-heralding planets, outlandish claims have plagued the scientific community.

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    Where the ‘wood-wide web’ narrative went wrong (fungal networks)

    INTRO: Over the past few years, a fascinating narrative about forests and fungi has captured the public imagination. It holds that the roots of neighboring trees can be connected by fungal filaments, forming massive underground networks that can span entire forests — a so-called wood-wide web. Through this web, the story goes, trees share carbon, water, and other nutrients, and even send chemical warnings of dangers such as insect attacks. The narrative — recounted in books, podcasts, TV series, documentaries, and news articles — has prompted some experts to rethink not only forest management but the relationships between self-interest and altruism in human society.

    But is any of it true?

    The three of us have studied forest fungi for our whole careers, and even we were surprised by some of the more extraordinary claims surfacing in the media about the wood-wide web. Thinking we had missed something, we thoroughly reviewed 26 field studies, including several of our own, that looked at the role fungal networks play in resource transfer in forests. What we found shows how easily confirmation bias, unchecked claims, and credulous news reporting can, over time, distort research findings beyond recognition. It should serve as a cautionary tale for scientists and journalists alike... (MORE - missing details)
  21. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    What the “Big Pharma” accusation gets right (and wrong) about the drug industry

    - There are legitimate criticisms of the ways in which drugs are developed and marketed by the pharmaceutical industry, from the withholding of negative results to the use of representatives to exaggerate the benefits of new drugs to doctors

    - The people who endorse the “Big Pharma” conspiracy theory will often promote the rejection of pharmaceutical drugs and their replacement with lifestyle modifications and dietary supplements, but the former is often inadequate to treat disease and the latter is almost always based on poor studies

    - Pharmaceuticals are useful but the drug industry needs more transparency and regulation, and initiatives like the AllTrials campaign have made progress on that front

  22. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Why is India dropping evolution and the periodic table from school science?

    EXCERPT: A series of changes to school science teaching have resulted in the deletion of the periodic table, explanations of evolution and electromagnetism, and discussions about the sustainable use of natural resources from the textbooks used by children aged 14–16.

    These and other topics were removed from the curriculum last year to help lighten students’ workloads during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they have now been removed from textbooks, too. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the government-funded but operationally autonomous body tasked with producing India’s textbooks, has not discussed the changes — which will affect more than 38 million children — with parents, teachers or researchers. Those who study science education have told Nature that they’re baffled, not least by the lack of any engagement.

    NCERT also wants “a rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions”. Some people interpret this as a motivation to remove the likes of Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday, and instead use the time to learn more about India’s precolonial history of science.

    India is not the only postcolonial country grappling with the question of how to honour and recognize older or Indigenous forms of knowledge in its school curricula. New Zealand is trialling the teaching of Māori ‘ways of knowing’ — mātauranga Māori — in a selection of schools across the country. But it is not removing important scientific content to accommodate the new material, and for good reason... (MORE - missing details)

    RELATED: A dangerous trend to decolonize the scientific method ...... Top mathematicians warn curriculum being ‘politicised’ with diversity guidance

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    The Fluoride Controversy Never Dies

    The fluoride issue has moved from conspiracy theories of the 1940s and 1950s, claiming it was a communist plot or a government mind-control trick, to today’s science-based debate. The outcome of a court case involving fluoridation could have serious ramifications for EPA rules in the years to come.
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    Exclusive: Alleged research misconduct cost Turkish surgeons tenure

    Two orthopedic surgeons in Turkey will not attain tenured professorships following alleged research misconduct...

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    Scientist with six retractions wins challenge of firing, funding ban

    Kreipke maintains that Wayne State investigated him in retaliation for asking questions about how the university administered grant funding.

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    In the death of an Iranian scientist, hints of unchecked strife

    he news of Zahra Jalilian’s death seemed to change as quickly as it spread. On Dec. 4, 2022, the University of Tehran announced that the nanotechnology graduate student had died following “a tragic self-harm incident.” Political opposition groups quickly countered that darker forces were likely at work, attributing the 31-year-old Ph.D. student’s death to Islamic mercenaries, government functionaries, and other plots...

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