Science marching away from its real problems

At Marchin’, marchin’: The experts are right, it’s the facts that are wrong, I responded to some comments and offer a linked version here:


johnnyb, Upright Biped, and rvb8, my principal concern is that people, including people in science, can’t better their game if they won’t address their weaknesses.

The Marchin’, Marchin’ for Science movement is dangerously deluded if it thinks that the public is against science, “hates science,” etc.

I’ve followed science stories for over two decades now. As so often, the answer is simpler, clearer, and less comfortable*:

Most people who do not work in science or follow science news interact with it in areas like medicine. Medicine matters.

Even if the Higgs boson were shown to be a fraud, it would be nothing more than the Piltdown Particle. Most people who didn’t care before won’t start to care now.

Cancer diagnoses, by contrast, get everybody’s attention immediately.

So here’s what really happens: People like myself who have dear friends fighting breast cancer find out that treatment drugs failed replication. But, worse, that replication is not usually even risked. Or else we find out stuff like this: Ideological nonsense around gender equality harms, possibly sometimes kills, women patients. Could that have played a role in the death of someone we know?

Anyone who thinks that people who want change are just anti-science should stay clear of public policy for now. Their blinkers will not do them or their causes any good.

Face your desk.

(On the other hand, if I don’t support the cause, maybe I should cheer them on.)

* People facing unaccustomed challenges resort to conspiracy thinking. In politics, for example, recent changes in leadership are blamed on the alt right,fake news, and various conspiracies when the reality is often that people who were trusted were asleep at the switch and didn’t give good answers or advice. Something similar is happening with the marchin’, marchin’ phenomenon in science.

See also: Marchin’, marchin’: The experts are right, it’s the facts that are wrong Reynolds: “According to Foreign Affairs magazine, Americans reject the advice of experts so as “to insulate their fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong.” That’s in support of a book by Tom Nichols called The Death of Expertise, which essentially advances that thesis.” Hmmm. Sounds like Nichols is another candidate for our Blinkers Award.

Blinkers Award goes to… Tom Nichols at Scientific American! On why Americans “hate science”

Was the exposed Piltdown Man fraudster framed?

Are polls scientific? Well, what happens when human complexity foils electoral predictions?

Reproducibility problem a serious threat to medicine

and

The high cost of marchin’, marchin’ for Science: If female, you could be road kill yourself It’s good that social sciences are not really sciences anyway. But seeing how their point of view has spread into medical sciences, which can actually help people, is disconcerting

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