Honesty isn’t that big a deal in science?

Well, at least those who think it isn’t are making their views clearer.

From science writer Michael Brooks at New Scientist:

Ah, the naivety of the older generation. Nearly 500 eminent astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists and earth scientists have been surveyed to identify the “core traits of exemplary scientists”. Their answer? Honesty is critical, second only to curiosity, and we ought to do more to instil it in those considering science careers.

Why dishonesty anyway?

Because it gets the job done. Raymond De Vries at the University of Michigan and colleagues have argued that data manipulation based on intuition of what a result should look like is “normal misbehaviour”. They see such common misbehaviours as having “a useful and irreplaceable role” in science. Why? Because of “the ambiguities and everyday demands of scientific research”.

In other words, data isn’t often as clean as you would like. According to Frederick Grinnell, an ethicist at the University of Texas, intuition is “an important, and perhaps in the end a researcher’s best, guide to distinguishing between data and noise”. Sometimes you just know that data point was an anomaly to be ignored.

Should we do something to make science more virtuous? Probably not. More.

It sounds like: Scientists are justified in misrepresenting findings for the “greater good.”

Their choice. But remember this when people complain that the average rube doesn’t “trust” science.

Could we be looking up at an avalanche of faked up data in years to come?

See also: The war on falsifiability continues


Will there still be science in 2020?

Crossposted at Uncommon Descent