Scientific Pride and Prejudice


SCIENCE is in crisis, just when we need it most. Two years ago, C. Glenn Begley and Lee M. Ellis reported in Nature that they were able to replicate only six out of 53 “landmark” cancer studies. Scientists now worry that many published scientific results are simply not true. The natural sciences often offer themselves as a model to other disciplines. But this time science might look for help to the humanities, and to literary criticism in particular.

A major root of the crisis is selective use of data. Scientists, eager to make striking new claims, focus only on evidence that supports their preconceptions. Psychologists call this “confirmation bias”: We seek out information that confirms what we already believe. “We each begin probably with a little bias,” as Jane Austen writes in “Persuasion,” “and upon that bias build every circumstance in favor of it.”

Read the rest at: The New York Times

6 Responses to Scientific Pride and Prejudice

  1. Neilio February 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    This story is not about climate science. It is about science in general and climate science is included in this even though it is not mentioned. I posted this because it confirms what I have been saying about confirmation bias.

  2. Zman February 5, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Anyone who has any experience observing human behavior knows this to be axiomatic…………….Lol……of course, that may just be confirmation bias on my part.

    • Neilio February 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

      Axiomatic? If that were so then why do we have so many people using the “95% of the world’s scientists agree” line, and the “you are pro fossil fuel and anti-science” line, who completely trust anything any scientist says about anything to do with AGW?
      If it were axiomatic, everyone would be skeptical to some degree.

  3. Rob N. Hood February 28, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    I think the polls show pretty clearly that most people are skeptical, even to a greater degree than you like to pretend exists. Why do you portray yourselves as some kind of discriminated or victimized minority group? It only fits a pattern of right wing strategy stolen from true victims and non-mainstream groups. You (AGW skeptics) are the majority, publically speaking. Your side has won. Sure there are faint rumblings from the politicians on the Left from time to time, including that scary Obama dude, but nothing has been accomplished by them, nor have they really even come close to doing so. It sure behooves the Right, however, to play the victim card. It’s about all the Right has left: fear-mongering and playing the victim. Sure the other side of this issue is also about fear, based upon science that may or may not be entirely accurate, but still science. Your victimization is all hot air, pardon the pun.

    • Neilio March 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      Well, I don’t know Rob. Maybe it’s things like being equated to holocaust deniers, flat earthers, and faked moon landing conspiracy theorists? Maybe it has something to do with being shouted down, by people like you, and told that 97% of the worlds scientists disagree with us? Maybe it has something to do with people suggesting things like meteorologists that don’t agree with global warming should have their accreditations revoked, or others saying things like deniers should be fired, banned, shot? I just don’t know Rob. Pick one.

      • Neilio March 3, 2014 at 5:08 am #

        Or it could have to do with, I don’t know, the CEO of Apple telling us not to buy Apple stock?……

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