E-letter: Bogus results, real consequences

About two weeks ago, a very disturbing (to me) report moved on the New York Times. According to the story, a study by a bunch of psychologists showed that the results of the psychological studies they reviewed showed 60 percent of those studies could not be replicated.

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

As you likely know, the scientific method demands that studies can be replicated. If they cannot, they are not science. This is a barn-burner revelation on its own, but it leads to two equally devastating points.

First, I apologize that I have told this story before, but I’ll make it quick.

About 25 years ago, I met a woman who had been a hard-luck case for years, including problems with drugs, alcohol and had been a prostitute. However, she had decided to change her life, and on that day was within three weeks of receiving her Ph.D. in psychology.

On my side of the agenda, I wanted to know why she had chosen psychology, so I asked. She replied that she wanted power.

Stunned, I asked why, if she wanted power, didn’t she go into police work, the military, law, teaching or some other field more known for its ability to manipulate power.

She said I had it all wrong. She said if you want a promotion in the military or police, you have to go through a psychologist. If you want custody of a child, you have to go through a psychologist. If you want to work with children, you have to go through a psychologist.

Then she said she had been under the power of men all her life, and now it was time for pay-backs. Twenty-five years on, reciting her words still sends a chill down my back. So forgive me if I hold the science of psychology in low regard. The wisdom of the ages tells us we cannot know what evil lurks in the hearts of men (as in mankind) – a fact now in evidence by the most revered professors of psychology conveying a degree upon a woman bent on vengeance. I assume if they could have seen inside her skull, they would have withheld the degree. On the other hand, they likely would have justifiably feared a lawsuit.

Second, we have used these pages before to report the hijacking of science by commercial interests. Scarcely a day goes by when we don’t get some kind of report that says, “according to studies….” whatever. We reported a while back that a university researcher had falsified the results of a study on the benefits of wine and had pocketed a windfall for his report.

I believe the corruption of science is inevitable, if, in fact, it was ever clean. If you read Goethe’s Faust or the antics of Elizabethan Dr. (sic) John Dee, you will see there is reason to doubt.

In today’s scientific milieux, the mantra for academics is “publish or perish.” That is, you must come up with a convincing argument that you have a worthwhile idea. If you can show that to your peers, you can get hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to do a study. Then, if you are successful in getting your peers to approve the publication of the study in a “peer-reviewed journal,” you are eligible to request a new grant.

Of course, your “peers” also want hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions), so they are careful not to shine a light too brightly on science’s little foibles – like not being able to replicate studies or using science to abuse men and children. After all, if the peers hold the nutbars accountable, somebody might get bored and start reviewing the peers. So they let minor errors pass. This is why we have studies on trying to keep Canadian pigs warm in winter in a cold barn by shooting them with microwaves to heat them from the inside.

And no, I am not joking.

If you look at the phenomenon of Political Correctness, you will see it evolves from this hideous marriage of pseudo science and hidden agendae.

Of course, the fuel that fires these idiocies is hidden in your tax contributions, and your acquiescence to the need for “science.” And let’s throw in your fear of retaliation from all the ex-prostitutes seeking vengeance.

Society is suffering. Do we need science? No doubt. But we need accountability.

So…. It’s election season in Canada. For the next few weeks, you get a say. Why not ask your MP what he or she thinks of non-replicable, agenda-driven pseudo science grinding away at our economy, our laws and our social fabric.

If his or her answer sounds suspiciously like, “I don’t like it either, but we can afford it,” ask for the response in writing and send it to me. I would be happy to ask for a clarification, “on the record.”

Plan to be at Coverings’ Canada Night at The International Surfaces Event in Las Vegas — right after the show on Thursday night, Jan. 21. Watch for more info in the November-December issue of Coverings.

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  1. Wayne Laforet says

    I graduated with a Bio-Science diploma in the mid 70’s and I agree with your comments. I remember sitting on a plane with a science teacher and we were debating some conclusions he was making based on hypothesis and not the scientific method. He told me they don’t refer to the scientific method any longer because they could not replicate everything they taught or believed in a lab.
    If the peer reviews and general consensus of other scientist agreed on something then they taught it as fact. I was astounded. So whenever I hear the news that starts with “Scientist say” then I lean towards not believing it until I research it myself. What I have found is that the desire for grants is greater than the desire for truth.

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