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Limits of the scientific method

"The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Jonah Lehrer
...all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology.


This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/699265.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
e4q
Jan. 11th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
i am glad that gravity is still true.

and that scientists are having to keep on their toes.
firecat
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
Electromagnetic theory is working pretty well here, at the moment.
e4q
Jan. 11th, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
handy.

also, a lot of my drugs are still working, and i am finding a lot of stuff like bricks are still holding together, and cement is still good, steel, radio waves. all good.
elainegrey
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
There's a reason the social scientists get eye rolls from the physical scientists. Too many uncontrolled variables, too small sample sets, to short a duration.

*grumble*

Not that physical science shows a blessed perfection. I can't remember the constant that was (mis)predicted and the huge error bars folks had on their measurements to include that value, and then eventually the value was recalculated and *ping* the error bars shunk.
vito_excalibur
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
There is 100% something wrong with Mr. Lehrer's understanding of the scientific method, but that is not the same thing!

The steady decline in observed phenomena from initial experimental results has been a known issue for a long time. The issue is that scientists fudge their results, knowingly and not. They frequently just do not publish results that differ too much from the previous literature in the field. So someone gets an exciting result, publishes it, it is talked about as the Next Big Thing. Someone else tries to replicate the experiment. They do not see that result - but there are always error bars - they end up publishing a smaller result. The next person does the same thing, etc., and you get a slow and embarrassing regression to the mean. But that is science working; i.e., making errors, checking on them, and correcting them.
firecat
Jan. 11th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
There may be something wrong with the title of the article. The article discusses most of the things you mention.
cakmpls
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
Yes, all of that is pretty much what the article says!
pingback_bot
Jan. 11th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Done yesterday (20100110 Mo)
User mdlbear referenced to your post from Done yesterday (20100110 Mo) saying: [...] via firecat [...]
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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