Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flawed Studies

It seems like there are new revelations of scientific fraud every week. Before I make any conclusions, I need the answer to a few questions:
  1. Have there always been this many cases of scientific fraud?
  2. Is the scientific establishment more adept at identifying misconduct?
  3. Why am I hearing mostly about fraud involving charged topics? (prayer, stem cells, etc.)

Maybe there is more fraud because there is simply more science being done.

Perhaps science these days is a higher pressure environment that induces folks to make unethical choices.

Am I (or the media) just paying more attention to these things these days?

What are we as scientists to do about this? Already, I have heard the line about a few bad apples too many times. I hope it takes more than a few to sour the public on science!

1 comment:

golob said...

Much of this is the other side of sensationalist coverage of science; the opposite of press-release stenography journalism. An increasing number of reporters are realizing the impact of a "this study is flawed" story is as great or greater than "wow, what a shocking new discovery."

Sadly, there still isn't much effort to emphasize critical reasoning skills. Only rarely do reporters go through WHY some study is flawed, or how one can identify a flawed study. If we could only get beyond only reporting endpoints, or the "he said / she said" model of science reporting, we'd all be better off...