Reasons for fake science news: (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 28, 2019, 00:01 (27 days ago)

A review of probabilities:

https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/indepth/opinions-why-scientists-sometimes-make-extraordi...

Astronomer Avi Loeb suggests space rock Oumuamua 'could be alien probe'

***

"Within the scientific community, outlandish ideas like Loeb’s can be divisive, primarily because claims that attract a lot of media attention can turn the conversation away from the definite facts we’ve worked hard to learn. Scientists who make big claims can be seen as capitalizing on media hype, and the rest of us sometimes blame the media itself for playing a part. If we’re being honest, though, we have to admit that everyone involved — not just journalists, but also academic and research institutions and even the scientists themselves — participates in the hype cycle.

"Hype in science can be seen as an outgrowth of the larger crisis in journalism, as the precipitous decline in journalism jobs has meant that few news outlets employ dedicated science journalists. While many scientists blame hyped-up science news on a lack of journalistic expertise, the reality is more complex: As the bottom fell out for science journalism jobs, many science journalists were faced with the choice between battling it out as freelancers or using their skills to work in the communications offices of the institutions housing scientists — usually universities. There, they would be tasked with spreading the word about the results of new research happening at their home institutions.

" While the writers themselves are genuinely excited to share these new discoveries, media attention boosts the institution itself, enhancing its reputation and opening up new funding avenues. Accordingly, no news release, however measured, is ever solely about the distribution of new knowledge. And yet these same documents still do help journalists (especially those without specialized training in science) identify what new scientific results might be transformative.

"It’s here that the problem of hyperbole comes into play. Many astronomers are fond of what’s known as the Sagan standard: the saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” By contrast, ancient rhetoricians such as Quintilian believed that extraordinary circumstances actually justify hyperbole, because it can express the inexpressible when, in Quintilian’s phrase, “no one is contented with the exact truth.” All hyperbole skates a thin boundary between elegance and extravagance, between capturing the incompleteness of our knowledge, and distorting the truth. Among scientists — and, in this case, astronomers specifically — the boundaries of how outlandish one can be are limited by our commitment to careful measurement and moderate interpretations. Hyperbolic ideas therefore need not leave the solar system entirely before they risk offending our sensibilities.

"But does hyperbole actually shift our perspective on the possible at all? Over at the Atlantic, Marina Koren has written about how institutional prestige — in this case, Loeb’s position as chairman of the Harvard Astronomy Department, along with his long list of other accomplishments — can add a certain gravitas to a claim that might be dismissed if it came from somewhere else. But it also shapes who can get away with extreme ideas in the first place. Pushing the boundaries of plausibility comes with risk to one’s career and reputation, so while anyone can use hyperbole as a tool, the risk that one bears is substantially higher if you are not insulated by a name-brand institution, along with titles and accomplishments from adjacent name-brand institutions. Outlandish claims are, in some sense, a luxury concentrated in the hands of those who already possess other luxuries — a kind of academic weight whose heft accumulates with time. The fact that hyperbolic ideas remain a privilege is precisely what limits them as a tool for moving the boundaries of the possible."

Comment: This all goes back to my main point about grants. The government is the sugar daddy that supplies lots of money for research, any research, because it is good politics, but doesn't necessarily make good science. Universities want and use great publicity to suck up as much money as they can get. By the way Oumuamua is an odd-shaped space rock wondering through our solar system. Hyperbole can be rampent in science reports by both reporters and the scientists themselves.

Reasons for fake science news:

by dhw, Thursday, February 28, 2019, 10:21 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: This all goes back to my main point about grants. The government is the sugar daddy that supplies lots of money for research, any research, because it is good politics, but doesn't necessarily make good science. Universities want and use great publicity to suck up as much money as they can get. By the way Oumuamua is an odd-shaped space rock wondering through our solar system. Hyperbole can be rampent in science reports by both reporters and the scientists themselves.

All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

Reasons for fake science news:

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 28, 2019, 16:14 (26 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: This all goes back to my main point about grants. The government is the sugar daddy that supplies lots of money for research, any research, because it is good politics, but doesn't necessarily make good science. Universities want and use great publicity to suck up as much money as they can get. By the way Oumuamua is an odd-shaped space rock wondering through our solar system. Hyperbole can be rampent in science reports by both reporters and the scientists themselves.

dhw: All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

Don't you realize I can recognize hyperbole when I see it?

Note how Cornelius Hunter demolishes the same study as I did recently here About NASA 'discovering' how to start life.Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 20:06

https://evolutionnews.org/2019/02/at-last-the-details-of-how-proteins-evolve/

Reasons for fake science news:

by dhw, Friday, March 01, 2019, 13:17 (25 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

DAVID: Don't you realize I can recognize hyperbole when I see it?

I agree with you completely, and am grateful for whatever examples you give us. This is an important subject. However, when you introduced it, we were discussing various articles which explicitly supported the case for cellular intelligence, with cells creating instructions on the hoof, “de novo”, directly contradicting your own belief that they are preprogrammed. You responded: “You are quoting Darwinian scientists who wrote the article. I carefully watch the obvious background thinking of those who write whatever. It always has great influence on interpretation of results.” You then moved on to Hunter’s demolition of the case for random mutations and the whole subject of hyperbole in science, as if in some magic way this would demolish the case for cellular intelligence and instructions made "de novo". I even rebuked you for implying that these findings were only the result of people trying to get grants, which is why I have given you the gentle reminder above.

Reasons for fake science news:

by David Turell @, Friday, March 01, 2019, 23:53 (25 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

DAVID: Don't you realize I can recognize hyperbole when I see it?

dhw: I agree with you completely, and am grateful for whatever examples you give us. This is an important subject. However, when you introduced it, we were discussing various articles which explicitly supported the case for cellular intelligence, with cells creating instructions on the hoof, “de novo”, directly contradicting your own belief that they are preprogrammed. You responded: “You are quoting Darwinian scientists who wrote the article. I carefully watch the obvious background thinking of those who write whatever. It always has great influence on interpretation of results.” You then moved on to Hunter’s demolition of the case for random mutations and the whole subject of hyperbole in science, as if in some magic way this would demolish the case for cellular intelligence and instructions made "de novo". I even rebuked you for implying that these findings were only the result of people trying to get grants, which is why I have given you the gentle reminder above.

I accept your gentle rebuke. I've described 'de novo' B cells in immunity manufacture of antibodies. I know what works de novo. Be sure you recognize the hyperbole in much of what is published by science writers. Hunter demolished Darwinish writers reviewing Darwinish suppositions with no basis.

Reasons for fake science news:

by dhw, Saturday, March 02, 2019, 10:52 (24 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

DAVID: Don't you realize I can recognize hyperbole when I see it?

dhw: I agree with you completely, and am grateful for whatever examples you give us. This is an important subject. However, when you introduced it, we were discussing various articles which explicitly supported the case for cellular intelligence, with cells creating instructions on the hoof, “de novo”, directly contradicting your own belief that they are preprogrammed. You responded: “You are quoting Darwinian scientists who wrote the article. I carefully watch the obvious background thinking of those who write whatever. It always has great influence on interpretation of results.” You then moved on to Hunter’s demolition of the case for random mutations and the whole subject of hyperbole in science, as if in some magic way this would demolish the case for cellular intelligence and instructions made "de novo". I even rebuked you for implying that these findings were only the result of people trying to get grants, which is why I have given you the gentle reminder above.

DAVID: I accept your gentle rebuke.

It was a gentle reminder. The not-so-gentle rebuke concerned your attempt to bracket hyperbole and grant-hunting with the various articles supporting the concept of cellular intelligence.

DAVID: I've described 'de novo' B cells in immunity manufacture of antibodies. I know what works de novo. Be sure you recognize the hyperbole in much of what is published by science writers. Hunter demolished Darwinish writers reviewing Darwinish suppositions with no basis.

Nobody knows the extent to which intelligent cells can produce instructions “de novo”, but the very fact that they CAN do so lends credence to my hypothesis and to Shapiro’s theory of “natural genetic engineering”. I have already accepted your warning about much of what is published by science writers, and have thanked you above for drawing our attention to examples. It is an important subject, but should be kept separate from the issue of cellular intelligence.

Reasons for fake science news:

by David Turell @, Saturday, March 02, 2019, 17:19 (24 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: All agreed. But once again, a gentle reminder: you should not assume that any research which runs contrary to your fixed beliefs must be the product of hyperbole in order to gain grants.

DAVID: Don't you realize I can recognize hyperbole when I see it?

dhw: I agree with you completely, and am grateful for whatever examples you give us. This is an important subject. However, when you introduced it, we were discussing various articles which explicitly supported the case for cellular intelligence, with cells creating instructions on the hoof, “de novo”, directly contradicting your own belief that they are preprogrammed. You responded: “You are quoting Darwinian scientists who wrote the article. I carefully watch the obvious background thinking of those who write whatever. It always has great influence on interpretation of results.” You then moved on to Hunter’s demolition of the case for random mutations and the whole subject of hyperbole in science, as if in some magic way this would demolish the case for cellular intelligence and instructions made "de novo". I even rebuked you for implying that these findings were only the result of people trying to get grants, which is why I have given you the gentle reminder above.

DAVID: I accept your gentle rebuke.

It was a gentle reminder. The not-so-gentle rebuke concerned your attempt to bracket hyperbole and grant-hunting with the various articles supporting the concept of cellular intelligence.

DAVID: I've described 'de novo' B cells in immunity manufacture of antibodies. I know what works de novo. Be sure you recognize the hyperbole in much of what is published by science writers. Hunter demolished Darwinish writers reviewing Darwinish suppositions with no basis.

dhw; Nobody knows the extent to which intelligent cells can produce instructions “de novo”, but the very fact that they CAN do so lends credence to my hypothesis and to Shapiro’s theory of “natural genetic engineering”. I have already accepted your warning about much of what is published by science writers, and have thanked you above for drawing our attention to examples. It is an important subject, but should be kept separate from the issue of cellular intelligence.

I never meant for it to seem tied together.

Reasons for fake science news: grantsmanship described

by David Turell @, Friday, March 08, 2019, 20:00 (18 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Friday, March 08, 2019, 20:25

This article summary describes what I have been presenting, full-bore PR to suck up as many grants as possible from gullible politicians:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075079.2016.1144182?journalCode=cshe20

"Artifice or integrity in the marketization of research impact? Investigating the moral economy of (pathways to) impact statements within research funding proposals in the UK and Australia

"Abstract
A focus on academic performativity and a rationalizing of what academics do according to measurable outputs has, in the era of higher education's (HE) neoliberalization and marketization, engendered debate regarding the ‘authenticity’ of academic identity and practice. In such a context, a ‘performative’ prioritization of leveraging ‘positional goods’, such as external research funds, presents a specific challenge to the construction of academics’ identity where in being entrepreneurial they are perceived to compromise traditional Mertonian edicts of scholarship and professional ideals of integrity and ‘virtuousness’. In this article, we consider how academics sacrifice scholarly integrity when selling their research ideas, or more specifically, the non-academic impact of these, to research funders. We review attitudes towards pathway to impact statements – formal components of research funding applications, that specify the prospective socio-economic benefits of proposed research – from (n = 50) academics based in the UK and Australia and how the hyper-competitiveness of the HE market is resulting in impact sensationalism and the corruption of academics as custodians of truth."

Comment: The labs live on grants.

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