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Another Reason Fraudulent Science Continues: Incentives

Thursday, March 23, 2017 15:24
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(Before It's News)

In my short series on the pitfalls and weaknesses of science (particularly biased dogmas and fraud) I have at least a few more topics to cover in the next couple of weeks.

One issue is quite relevant: fraud incentivized by monetary interests. This is certainly true in the universities where most research takes place. Though it can be understood (if not excused) that research labs that work for private companies may have ulterior motives aside from learning facts, scholarly institutions are supposed to be more 'pure' bastions of the pursuit of truth.

Unfortunately, this has been shifting for the worse over time, as illustrated in this recent Slate article:

Authors Marcus and Oransky point out that “–universities are worse than foxes guarding chicken coops when it comes to policing their own researchers.” They cite a case at Ohio State University, which continued to take in millions of dollars in grants ($86 million, not just a few!) for one cancer researcher, even when he's been suspected of fraud to the point of being investigated at least 5 times!

[Underlined is my emphasis]

Some experts argue, with good reason, that the pressures on scientists to cheat and cut corners have never been greater. Funding for science is tight; meanwhile, the number of new Ph.D.s keeps rising while the number of faculty slots for scientists is falling. But for a variety of reasons, universities routinely act as the enemies of transparency when it comes to research misconduct on campus. They ignore requests for investigations by whistleblowers, shun nosy journalists, and keep regulators and financial benefactors, including government agencies, in the dark. Disgraced scientists are allowed to quietly resign, with nary a word to their future employers.

All the obfuscation takes a toll—in taxpayer money, trust in science and institutions, and even the safety of patients.”

If they leave the University to work in the private sector, most take their bad behavior with them, as would be expected. Needless to say, in the private sector, it may not be “publish or perish” — but it's “produce or perish.” So, if the only way to produce is to lie about results, the indications are that fraud in the private sector is WAY off the charts. (Though, considering how many studies are later disproved, does that really surprise ANY of us!?)

They go on to cite several more recent examples of fraud, and then the stats that 2% of scientists outright admit to fraud, and 4% of all studies have math so bad they can't possibly be factual numbers. These problems have been escalating exponentially since 2000, quadrupling since that time. And that's just the one's that we can catch! Most scientific fraud is well under the radar, not exposed until years if not decades later, when the damage has been done.

Universities don’t seem very interested in exposing this fraud—in fact, quite the opposite. And why would they be? Misconduct on campus is bad for their reputations, regardless of a researcher’s stature. And for the big earners, killing golden geese is hardly good for business. Yet by failing to release reports of their investigations, over-interpreting confidentiality statutes, and often fighting tooth and nail against public records requests, they only give ammunition to those who claim they’re not transparent.

My point here is that sometimes 'science' claims that it finds things that it doesn't.

It's equally clear that 'science' is greatly incentivized NOT to find things that will cut off funding– anything that doesn't fit the 10 dogmas of science as discussed a couple of days ago, for example! So when scientists say, “There is no evidence for UFOs, or ghosts, or reincarnation, or ESP…” just remember, they're PAID not to look! And if they accidentally find it, they are PAID to bury it deep and forget about it. And so they do.


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