This pronouncement will no doubt cause a firestorm.Here’s the pull quote:
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
To be honest, I don’t have trouble believing the source — for the hard sciences anyway, not the humanities. Why? Pretty simple: money and logistics.
Science publication is invariably and inextricably tied to big money: research grants, medical and drug products (including consumer items), military applications, that sort of thing. As with the marijuana and hemp case, the DEA is forced to admit that the cannabis plant has a place in the treatment of patients suffering from severe forms of epilepsy. This is not news to most, as the rise of products sourced from hemp and marijuana (like CBD oil), are becoming more and more readily available online. There’s tremendous cash incentive to publish research, even if it’s in progress (which is a major target of this editor’s criticism). A professor or research scientist needs those credits for the next grant application or for his/her university’s bid for a military or big pharma contract. And then there’s money from federal programs (this is how the global warming industry works — politicized science). Consequently, there are dozens of science journals that produce hundreds of pages per week of journal literature. It’s staggering.
The humanities are nowhere close to that. The “busiest” journals produce 4-6 issues per year (and are nearly always under 250 pages, by design – to control printing and shipping costs). Humanities research just doesn’t produce anything that has the potential for consumer products or military application. Archaeologists, historians, and biblical scholars don’t cure cancer (or acne), produce fad diets, upgrade weapons systems, or help the government spy on people. I’m not saying that humanities journals never publish anything they shouldn’t. I’m saying that, if you think the above headline justifies snubbing what the peer-review process produces in humanities field, you just don’t understand the fields or the problem.
Wouldn’t it be something to see all the DC material about to be released intrigue enough people to read such scholarly material to cause a paradigm shift in the Christian culture?
Hey, it could happen…
“Humanities research just doesn’t produce anything that has the potential for… military application.”
Unless you’re Brian and your articles get noticed by sundry powers of varying loyalties… Alas, he still didn’t make much money off the power brokers…
Remember, it was the Lancet that first published the nonsense that MMR vaccination might lead to autism, which has since been proven to be untrue. In fact, that study which the Lancet’s peer-review process agreed to publish was subsequently proven to contain entirely fabricated data. If anyone knows about untrue scientific literature, it would be the editor of the Lancet!
ouch! You should post a note on the story site.
Right. Dr. Hurtado once posted something similar to this. Making a distinction between peer-review in the hard sciences versus humanities.
Related to it, in 2009 Marcia Angell wrote: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.”
The statement was originally made here, I believe:
wow – that one is even more damning than the first. Thanks!
I think that is taking it a bit too far. You cannot through the baby entirely out with the bathwater. You can’t just dimiss everything when a problem is identified. That is never the reasoned answer.
There are problems with the direction of some of the research, but, in general the guidelines that are produced do contain valuable information that helps guide clinical decision-making. The process of science does require modifications of those guidelines over time, but, in general this had led to improvement and overall better medical care. I can think of many examples that I have witnessed over the past few years that have born that out(modification of blood pressure guidelines, diabetic control guidelines, aspirin use guidelines, statin use guidelines that have resulted in much improved mortality from heart disease especially with respect to diabetes, etc)
I just think it interesting that the editor of the Lancet was the one to make the comments Dr Heiser referenced. The Lancet, of all journals…
Time will tell – i.e., once people start reacting we’ll see what sticks.
Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, speaks similar issues to this here:
“There are numerous other problems with scientific research, which John Ioannidis famously detailed in his provocative 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” (3) But perhaps the most glaring problem is, as he suggested, that “for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.””
It was a quite an ethical dilemma for me when I started realizing these things. The end result was that I couldn’t practice pharmacy anymore with a clean conscience. So I “retired” and took a job as a housewife. I love my new job!
This is an example of how poor data dictates national and international policy. The charts in the meta analysis can be viewed by getting a subscription to the BMJ, and the article itself can be viewed here free.
Influenza Vaccine, Policy vs. Evidence
Using the example of influenza vaccine policy vs evidence In say a pregnant women, this is what the CDC says…glance at below link. The flu vaccine is without a doubt…safe and effective and it will make it so you and your baby don’t die. Get it now pregnant woman.
Category B medications are considered safe in pregnancy because either no studies or no adequate studies in humans have been done and animal studies don’t demonstrate harm to the fetus. Flu vaccine is considered safe for use in pregnant women, as it as ranked a category B…and we have rat data (package inserts tell us no studies have been done in humans.) Package inserts will go on to state basically that animal studies don’t necessarily reflect safety to the human fetus.
This is how safety of AFLUERIA in pregnant women was determined…
“8 USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS 330
331 8.1 Pregnancy
332 Pregnancy Category B: A reproductive and developmental toxicity study has been performed
333 in female rats at a dose approximately 265 times the human dose (on a mg/kg basis) and
334 revealed no evidence of impaired female fertility or harm to the fetus due to AFLURIA. There
335 are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal
336 reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, AFLURIA should be given
337 to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.
339 In the reproductive and developmental toxicity study, the effect of AFLURIA on embryo-fetal
340 and pre-weaning development was evaluated in pregnant rats. Animals were administered
341 AFLURIA by intramuscular injection twice prior to gestation, once during the period of
342 organogenesis (gestation day 6), and once later in pregnancy (gestation day 20), 0.5
343 mL/rat/occasion (approximately a 265-fold excess relative to the projected human dose on a
344 body weight basis). No adverse effects on mating, female fertility, pregnancy, parturition,
345 lactation parameters, and embryo-fetal or pre-weaning development were observed. There
346 were no vaccine-related fetal malformations or other evidence of teratogenesis. ”
This is the manufacturers conclusion about both safety and effectiveness of their vaccine in pregnant women…
“USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS———————
Safety and effectiveness of AFLURIA have not been established in
pregnant women or nursing mothers. (8.1, 8.3) ”
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