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posted by martyb on Monday July 18 2016, @02:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the What's-up-Doc? dept.

The scientific process, in its ideal form, is elegant: Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat. Science is rarely practiced to that ideal. But Copernicus believed in that ideal. So did the rocket scientists behind the moon landing.

But nowadays, our respondents told us, the process is riddled with conflict. Scientists say they're forced to prioritize self-preservation over pursuing the best questions and uncovering meaningful truths.

Today, scientists' success often isn't measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It's instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

Scientists often learn more from studies that fail. But failed studies can mean career death. So instead, they're incentivized to generate positive results they can publish. And the phrase "publish or perish" hangs over nearly every decision. It's a nagging whisper, like a Jedi's path to the dark side.

"Over time the most successful people will be those who can best exploit the system," Paul Smaldino, a cognitive science professor at University of California Merced, says.

Many scientists have had enough. They want to break this cycle of perverse incentives and rewards. They are going through a period of introspection, hopeful that the end result will yield stronger scientific institutions. In our survey and interviews, they offered a wide variety of ideas for improving the scientific process and bringing it closer to its ideal form.

Before we jump in, some caveats to keep in mind: Our survey was not a scientific poll. For one, the respondents disproportionately hailed from the biomedical and social sciences and English-speaking communities.

Many of the responses did, however, vividly illustrate the challenges and perverse incentives that scientists across fields face. And they are a valuable starting point for a deeper look at dysfunction in science today.

The 7 problems identified are:

1) Academia has a huge money problem
2) Too many studies are poorly designed
3) Replicating results is crucial — and rare
4) Peer review is broken
5) Too much science is locked behind paywalls
6) Science is poorly communicated
7) Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

It seems to me, that, much of this is already known to most scientists. However, this cycle of publish or perish continues unabated. What do you think should be done to change this mindset ?

http://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12016710/science-challeges-research-funding-peer-review-process


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday July 18 2016, @02:55AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 18 2016, @02:55AM (#375925) Journal

    Being an ancient Greek, I have been watching this since the beginning. Archimedes was one of the first to go bad. It is not science itself that is broken, it is science brought under the control of kings. Plato tried to fix this once, again in Sicily, and found himself under house arrest, in a "gilded cage, that is a cage nonetheless".

    So calls for accountability, "results", "impact", and so on from academia will only put science more and more under the thumb of funders, especially of kings, parliaments, National Boards of Whatnot, and the result will be the end of science as we know it. Recently, it was the Cold War that did this. Where did you think these nice computing machines and the network you are using them on came from? Was this wise? Or just were the money was?

    --
    #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:05AM (#375933)

      People have to eat, so you need some funding. And how would you propose to evaluate progress to ensure the funds are distributed effectively?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by arslan on Monday July 18 2016, @03:18AM

        by arslan (3462) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:18AM (#375942)

        Isn't the government suppose to be one of the control point for the bad tendrils of capitalism, which this seems to be? Of course, in a lot of countries, the government seems to be highly influenced by the private sector....

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday July 18 2016, @03:37AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:37AM (#375953) Journal

        People have to eat,

        You see, this is why you fail. People do not have to eat. They only have to die. Now what they do before that, and what they might contribute to the collective wisdom of humanity, now there is something to consider. Short range thinking like this belongs in a "business school", not in the laboratories of science or the halls of academe.

        --
        #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @01:02PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @01:02PM (#376124)

          People have to kill. That's why the money is in developing better ways to kill.

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:47AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:47AM (#376088)

        And how would you propose to evaluate progress to ensure the funds are distributed effectively?

        Obviously this would be measured by the total number of followers on facebook, twitter and instagram.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by driverless on Monday July 18 2016, @05:04AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday July 18 2016, @05:04AM (#375995)

      A lot of those points are interlocked. There will never be enough funding for academia. If you took the entire GDP of the US and gave it to academia, they'd complain of being shortfunded, because there's always a bigger, fancier, more expensive project you want to run. Conversely, there are academics who are happy to spend the next twenty years researching something of interest to them but of no interest or use to anyone else. So you need a system to decide who to fund, and to what level, that deals with runaway costs and unnecessary research/work. This is sort of what the current system has evolved to deal with. OK, it doesn't deal with it very well. Problem is, what alternative is there that works better? And by "works better" I mean actually works, in the presence of human nature which will try and work around it whenever it can, not just one that works in theory, or on paper.

      I think we need a $100M research program to address this. Now if only we could get the funding...

      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday July 18 2016, @05:34AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 18 2016, @05:34AM (#376012) Journal

        I think we need a $100M research program to address this. Now if only we could get the funding...

        You sell us out too low! I mean, a rocket that can fly over Japan, striking fear into the hearts of the paper tiger running dogs of the Capitalist west? Yes, fun. But to unlock the secrets of existence, to understand what it means to be!! A far greater reward, worth any amount of mere money, don't you think?

        Again we are faced with a stubborn fact: stupid people are cheap. They do not want to pay for wisdom, and rightfully so, because I mean, if someone is selling you wisdom, does not that mean by the very nature of the transaction that you do not know what you are getting? But then, if they never trust the wise to actually be wise, we will all end up rather stupid, as in the fall of the Roman Empire or the ascendence of Donalt dRumpf.

        Ask for at least a billion. Even Dr. Evil learned this lesson.

        --
        #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:51AM (#376089)

        There will never be enough funding for academia.

        Not until they implement my Highest Bidder Tuition program. Sure, some people may get into college for $12.99 like those people who got their iPads on that website, but most of them will pay ridiculous amounts of money. This will also simplify they rate structures on their websites.
        Tuition: How much you got?

      • (Score: 2) by FakeBeldin on Monday July 18 2016, @01:14PM

        by FakeBeldin (3360) on Monday July 18 2016, @01:14PM (#376126) Journal

        The main problem with academia is that it's become a rat race to move up in a pyramid scheme/hierarchy (where each new level is a lot narrower). The easiest way to move up is to attract funding. I.e.

        Pyramidal hierarchy structure + moving up based on funding => funding is a scarce resource.

        We were discussing this over lunch. If everyone with tenure would always have funding for one PhD student and one PostDoc, you'd have enough space to broaden your research and try out things. Things could get done that way, risks could be taken.

        In the current situation: not so much.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:35PM (#376380)

          That's a nice idea! When I was in the US it was year-to-year budget crises where I could just about even get a liveable salary for myself. In those conditions, I'll do the work myself and seek to claim the credit rather than spend time on finding and training young guys. It's lose-lose because ultimately it's the young guys who succeed the old guys, just like I did in the past. Without that bridge, there's no incentive at all to bring the young guys on.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:55AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:55AM (#375926)

    that's cool that you think that... peace out...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:02AM (#375932)

      Your daily weed smoking experiment doesn't make you a scientist, anon.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday July 18 2016, @03:08AM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:08AM (#375935) Homepage

    I can't address all of this, but I can address some:

    1) Academia has a huge money problem

    Yeah, all the money goes to the greedy politically-appointed regents and overpaid bullshit "diversity officers" rather than to those who do the actual science.

    6) Science is poorly communicated

    Academics are remarkably poor communicators. When you're Aspie enough to get balls-deep into academia, some of your basic skills suffer.

    7) Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

    Well, no shit. Instead of paying decent stipends and living quarters, government would rather pay for illegal Mexicans' welfare and the 8 illegitimate babies of each illegal Mexican family so Democrats can get more votes. And overwhelmingly Democratic-voting academics wonder why the rest of us think they're idiots.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Zz9zZ on Monday July 18 2016, @03:30AM

      by Zz9zZ (1348) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:30AM (#375947)

      ... government would rather pay for illegal Mexicans' welfare...

      You do realize that isn't possible right? Only citizens can get welfare, illegals generally have no access to services and pay their own way. ER visits are about the only thing they can get access to.

      Would you care to share why you are so angry about illegal immigrants? You've professed to be descended from some minority, what are the things that have gotten you so upset? Or have you just been inundated by the personal opinions of those around you and take them as fact?

      Many people base their opinions on partial truths, liberals and conservatives. Often the truth is somewhere in the middle. So again, why are you so extreme? I just can't see it being 100% trolling.

      --
      ~Tilting at windmills~
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:43PM (#376337)

        Often the truth is somewhere in the middle.

        It's hard to determine where the "middle" is. Personally, I don't really care, as I only care about what is actually correct, not how "extreme" it is. Telling people that the truth is often in the "middle" is utterly useless for the conversation and is unlikely to convince anyone of anything.

        So again, why are you so extreme?

        How "extreme" something is (which is subjective) has nothing to do with how true it is. Accusations of extremism are often just used to poison the well and shut down conversation. Respond to someone's arguments; the bits about "extremism" are nothing but filler at best, and a logical fallacy at worst.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:33AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:33AM (#375949)

      *I* am entitled to a comfortable lifestyle because I would be really productive if the system wasn't all fucked up.

      However *those people* need to be shipped out of the country ASAP.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday July 18 2016, @03:45AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:45AM (#375957) Homepage

        While I do believe illegals should be deported immediately, when did I say I was entitled to anything? This isn't about me, it's about resource allocation and my belief that, despite academics being Aspies and liberal idiots, should get more resources to do good science (because it needs to be done and nobody else wants to do it).

        And as far as getting them more resources and incentive to do science, it wouldn't hypothetically just come from money saved from kicking out the illegals -- it would also comes from a sanity-check on the million-dollar salaries of greedy politically-appointed regents and the elimination of overpaid busywork roles for minorities for the sole sake of employing token minorities.

        Does that offend you? Well, life ain't politically correct.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:49AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:49AM (#375985)

          (((Ethanol-fueled))), again. Now if ever there was an anti-argument for Big-Science and the Military Industrial Complex, Eth is it. Works in the "defense industry", raised in PX's around the world, horrible racist and sexist, the first person we should go to when formulating the course of science, industry, and the arts for all of humanity. Too bad he's Nazi. Just saying. Viva le Trump!!

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Zz9zZ on Monday July 18 2016, @05:32AM

          by Zz9zZ (1348) on Monday July 18 2016, @05:32AM (#376010)

          Since you won't respond to my questions I'll just hop on this comment train :P Illegals don't cost the US much of anything, being illegal they don't get access to many services, especially not welfare.

          The only decent point you have is that ridiculous salaries for bureaucrats should be eliminated, and I would add that follows across the board for all professions.

          Now, as for life not being politically correct, it is pretty clear that we've swung too far towards thought crimes with the PC movement, but I would rather deal with an overly sensitive weirdo than a potentially violent and rude asshole. You are just the opposite end of the spectrum from the PC folks, and it is ironic that you undoubtedly wear that as a badge of pride.

          --
          ~Tilting at windmills~
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by black6host on Monday July 18 2016, @03:08AM

    by black6host (3827) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:08AM (#375936) Journal

    Lately I've heard that "It's scientific and proven by studies!" by the people that treat my son for mental health related issues. Well, what they consider issues. I've heard it quite a bit. A lot. I keep thinking that they've no idea what the scientific method is. Yet they proclaim every study they cite to back their agenda as fact, proven, "It's Scientific!!!!"

    Whether it's how much I let my child play video games or how I discipline him, there are "Scientific Studies!!!!" that will dictate how I must do things.

    Note: I've no choice in who has influence in my son's life at this time. Or else the first time I heard that I'd have said "see ya!" Most of y'all have noooooooooo idea what a nanny state can really be like. Trust me. Think of the children, for if you do that you can do anything including stepping all over constitutional rights.

    • (Score: 2) by deimios on Monday July 18 2016, @05:51AM

      by deimios (201) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 18 2016, @05:51AM (#376017) Journal

      I'd quote a sentence from the book of a fascist dictator about the issue (nanny state/ children) but I don't want to Godwin the thread. Oh, but I just did.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:14AM (#375939)

    Yeah, imagine continuing your college days indefinitely into adulthood.

    My professor won't admit that he's wrong! And the best Indian restaurant in walking distance is shutting down!

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Zz9zZ on Monday July 18 2016, @03:37AM

      by Zz9zZ (1348) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:37AM (#375951)

      And you have no idea about what you're talking about. To get their PhD most students go further into debt, get paid very little to do highly technical work, and live in constant stress about completing their program. Then they often move on to postdoc work, still paid shit and stressing about getting published so that they can land a decent job somewhere.

      Sure they don't lead the hardest life, and there are future rewards for many of them, but the point here is that this system is encouraging bad science that is less for the benefit of mankind, and more for the benefit of $$.

      --
      ~Tilting at windmills~
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:49AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:49AM (#375984)

        And you have no idea about what you're talking about

        Has the lack of first hand experience (or family ties etc) ever stopped anyone on this site from posting shit about

        - other professions
        - other religions
        - other nationalities
        - people living in other countries

        than their own? Or modding up those they agree with?

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by aristarchus on Monday July 18 2016, @07:13AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 18 2016, @07:13AM (#376030) Journal

          Has the lack of first hand experience (or family ties etc) ever stopped anyone on this site from posting shit about: . . .

          No, never, not at all. But you see, therein lies the rub! When these people post upon that which they know not, they look like total ignoramuses, complete imbeciles, very stupid people, and Trump supporters. Now, this may not bother them, because as they say, ignorance is bliss, but it does eviscerate the effectiveness of their post. So please do carry on about that about which you know nothing in the hopes that everyone on SoylentNews knows less than you, and thus will not detect your ignorance. But I think you do underestimate Soylentils! I find, with a few NOTABLE exceptions (who need not be named), this forum contains some of the most well rounded and educated and generally smart people on the planet.

          --
          #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @08:51PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @08:51PM (#376365)

            You slimy sycophant, you :-)

            • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Monday July 18 2016, @09:45PM

              by aristarchus (2645) on Monday July 18 2016, @09:45PM (#376383) Journal

              Hey! There is one of them now!

              --
              #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:55AM (#376090)

        To get their PhD most students go further into debt, get paid very little to do highly technical work, and live in constant stress about completing their program.

        Dude, I've never heard of the "PhD" Pokemon but if you're doing all that then you're definitely playing the game wrong.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:35AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:35AM (#376049)

      My professor won't admit that he's wrong!

      Amazing! I have a undergraduate student just like that! What are the odds?

       

      And the best Indian restaurant in walking distance is shutting down!

      C'est la vie. But I know this place that has great souvalkis, and if you will cough up for the cab fare, I might actually read your first draft. Oh, undergrad? Well you are not worth teaching the lesson to, so continue on just thinking your professor was wrong. (Why does admissions keep letting these morons in just because they qualify for a student loan? We used to have "standards")

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Zz9zZ on Monday July 18 2016, @03:14AM

    by Zz9zZ (1348) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:14AM (#375940)

    The simple fact that "publish or perish" is a common phrase pretty much sums it all up. New scientists should be concerned with doing the science properly, instead they cut corners and fake results in order to "succeed". The pursuit of science is not about bringing a new product to market, but that seems to be the general mentality these days. I think it is a systemic problem with society, you can see similar types of problems all over the place. Teachers are forced to be more concerned with standardized test scores (which gets tied to school funding), hospitals make life and death decisions based on a person's quality of insurance, many others make decisions based on financial rewards instead of doing what would be best. The Flint water crisis is a good example, fracking is another.

    Unless we can solve the general issue of global economics and keep people from having to worry about basic existence, then these issues will continue. Trying to fix science on its own will be fixing one symptom and not the disease.

    --
    ~Tilting at windmills~
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @08:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @08:04PM (#376341)

      Then there is industrial research where, if I publish I will perish (non-disclosure agreements).

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by shortscreen on Monday July 18 2016, @09:06PM

      by shortscreen (2252) on Monday July 18 2016, @09:06PM (#376371) Journal

      People whose career advancement depends on being seen to improve metrics focus on metrics to the exclusion of all else. Standardized test scores, stock prices, number of published studies, and budgets are all metrics. Metrics are God.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Kell on Monday July 18 2016, @03:16AM

    by Kell (292) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:16AM (#375941)

    As a youngish scientist, I can absolutely attest to almost every one of those. We spend more time applying for funding than using the funding. Replication studies are a waste of time for your career (although admittedly pretty meaningless in robotics, anyway). We are driven to publish (else perish!) even when we have nothing to really report, just because if we don't the university's KPIs will highlight us as the first to be chopped when the next government budget inevitably reduces the university's funding. Because we have no budget for it, we can't pay the premiums to put our work into open-access in a reputable journal, and all the free open-access ones have no name, so it's suicide to publish there unless you're very senior.

    Even though I've just gotten tenure*, the job is stressful enough to have put me and a few of my colleagues into hospital because of it. I've been told by two doctors that if I don't reduce my stress it will probably kill me. But what can I do? The universities know they can work us to the bone because we're irrationally passionate about our job and love our science... but there is no point if we're going to die from a stroke before we're 40. Even though I have a rock-star job, I'm considering quitting. Fortunately I'm moderately respected in my field, so I could get a job in industry - I feel awful for scientists who don't have engineering industry as a parachute.

    About the only one of those points I disagree with is number 6 - we do a lot to communicate well with the public and with students. I think we're doing ok there.

    * Tenure isn't what it used to be... and in Australia never really was. You CAN get fired simply by them cutting the budget and "reorganising" your position out of existence, and just because you're tenured doesn't mean the publishing stress goes away at all. All it means is that you can't get fired for your views alone. And really, the admin doesn't care about your views at all unless you're doing really contentious like climate change or comparative racial studies. Today "tenured" just means "got to keep her job".

    --
    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday July 18 2016, @06:26AM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday July 18 2016, @06:26AM (#376023) Journal

      What can you do?

      1. Use your qualifications to get a high paying job.
      2, Save, save, save. And save some more. Far easier to do that when you're single with no children. Skip the high end cars, luxury condos, etc. At one point I was saving over 3/4th of my income.
      3. Retire at a young age. Before 50, or if you can swing it, before 40. The point is to have enough money saved up that you need not ever work again even if you live to be over 100, plus enough more to pay for whatever research you wish to do.

      Step 2 is the crucial one. With money, you have freedom, and can do whatever you want, within reason. Maybe that's research, and maybe that's something else. At the least, it immensely strengthens your bargaining position should you wish to continue being an employee and while you still need to save more.

      Problem is, extremely few people, including even super smart scientists, have the discipline to do it.

      • (Score: 2) by Kell on Monday July 18 2016, @08:19AM

        by Kell (292) on Monday July 18 2016, @08:19AM (#376065)

        Unfortunately, step 1 for me would require leaving the country; robotics is hot right now, but not really in Australia. And there is more to life than money. Yes, I can move away for a while and save up a ton... but raising a family overseas is not something I want to contemplate, either. I've lived and worked in the US before and it's a hell-hole, and Europe doesn't look much better atm. Right now, I'm being paid well enough that I can potentially retire at 50ish (if the missus starts paying a useful income), but that's still not as much as I could earn internationally. Really, it boils down to 1. do work that stimulates me, 2. earn a living wage, 3. not go crazy from stress; pick two. I chose 1 and 2.

        --
        Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:10AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:10AM (#376078)

          I've lived and worked in the US before and it's a hell-hole, and Europe doesn't look much better atm.

          An Auzzie says this about the USA and the EU! A former Penal colony is a much better place to live than the centers of financial and economic power of the planet? I hear you, Mate! G'day!

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:22AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:22AM (#376095)

            Have you been to any of these places?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:47PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:47PM (#376384)

              lolz

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:26PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:26PM (#376621)

                Exactly. I've been to all three, and fuck knows I'd rather be in Australia!

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Monday July 18 2016, @07:21AM

      by RamiK (1813) on Monday July 18 2016, @07:21AM (#376034)

      Computer sciences are doing the worst with regards to communicating with the public and regulators. No other field can unilaterally agree on a subject like patents, security testing or encryption, both in industry and in academia, and still have it out-regulated in congress.

      That level of breakage can't even be found in medicine and nuclear physics \ industry. When some drugs get scheduled with no medical applications, it's because the industry asked for it to remove competition from the field. When plant safeties aren't included in law, it's because industry payed for it.

      Who on earth thinks regulating encryption is a good thing? You'll have to be completely illiterate in the subject to think it's going to work. And yet, the issues keeps raising it's head.

      If that's not a massive failure to communicate, what is?

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:50PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:50PM (#376386)

        Breaking encryption is the only way to prevent lone terrorists, didn't you know?

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @11:04PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @11:04PM (#376418)
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:21AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:21AM (#375943)

    Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat.

    The key is that you ask an actually interesting question. Since the 1940s philosophy of science has been pretty much dropped from the science curriculum and replaced with an approach that permits (and encourages) pseudoscience come up with by statisticians. Since they offer a method that has zero problem with answering worthless questions, and this is easier, people are trained to set up everything to answer worthless questions (Does the drug do absolutely nothing? Are two groups of people samples from populations with the exact same properties?, etc). This is a huge misunderstanding of how science works.

    Instead you need to spend the effort to ask an interesting question. Usually this means thinking really hard about what you think may be going on. Next, deducing a precise set of observations you should see if your explanation is correct (or at least in the ballpark). Then you need to set those deduced predictions as the null hypotheses.

    In the physical sciences, the usual result of an improvement in experimental design, instrumentation, or numerical mass of data, is to increase the difficulty of the “observational hurdle” which the physical theory of interest must successfully surmount; whereas, in psychology and some of the allied behavior sciences, the usual effect of such improvement in experimental precision is to provide an easier hurdle for the theory to surmount. Hence what we would normally think of as improvements in our experimental method tend (when predictions materialize) to yield stronger corroboration of the theory in physics, since to remain unrefuted the theory must have survived a more difficult test; by contrast, such experimental improvement in psychology typically results in a weaker corroboration of the theory, since it has now been required to survive a more lenient test [3] [9] [10].

    http://cerco.ups-tlse.fr/pdf0609/Meehl_1967.pdf [ups-tlse.fr]

    This reversal of null hypothesis choice is by far the worst thing that happened in the 300 or so years since science became a thing. Ronald Fisher was partly responsible, but even he tried to stop this late in his life:

    "We are quite in danger of sending highly trained and highly intelligent young men out into the world with tables of erroneous numbers under their arms, and with a dense fog in the place where their brains ought to be. In this century, of course, they will be working on guided missiles and advising the medical profession on the control of disease, and there is no limit to the extent to which they could impede every sort of national effort."

    http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/fisher272.pdf [york.ac.uk]

    We are no longer in danger of this. It came to pass decades ago for many areas of research and is slowly growing to replace all instances of science with pseudoscience. Any discussion of the problems facing science that fails to put this null hypothesis reversal first and foremost by a wide margin is going to be a red herring. Sure, there are other issues, but none are close to as damaging as this one.

  • (Score: 2) by KiloByte on Monday July 18 2016, @03:33AM

    by KiloByte (375) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:33AM (#375950)

    the respondents disproportionately hailed from the biomedical

    A field that's unique by being under complete control of a group of companies with an agenda that forces them towards a specific mode of research and at all costs tries to stop and/or hide any publications that would be cost-effective to the general public.

    and social sciences

    Not science at all.

    On the other hand, the problems they identified sound quite plausible.

    --
    Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
  • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:23AM (#375973)

    7) Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

    Oh boo hoo. Try being a garbageman.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by MostCynical on Monday July 18 2016, @04:46AM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Monday July 18 2016, @04:46AM (#375982) Journal

      How, exactly, is a garbageman's work stressful? Dirty and smelly, sometimes physically strenuous..
      Where is the stress?

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:51AM (#375987)

        You're not collecting the garbage fast enough. If you were doing your job right, I wouldn't even see you. I do not want to see you. Collect my garbage faster so I don't have to look at you! Faster!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:06AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:06AM (#375996)

        Where is the stress?

        Oversized, hernia inducing loads that fuckheads leave out on the curb?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @07:40AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @07:40AM (#376548)

          I was quite pleased to see the new design of collection trucks our local agency (CR&R ) purchased... all the cans are the same size, and have ridges in just the right place for a robotic arm to grapple, hoist, dump into the truck, and replace, all in one smooth operation.

          The driver never needs to leave his cab... he drives from can to can like a bee visiting flowers.

          It bugged me for years seeing people having to personally deal with those smelly trash cans often leaking trash juice.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:18PM (#376159)

        It thought that was a very strange comment as well. Maybe GP meant strenuous.

        It's taken me a while to realize, but I would much rather have a physically strenuous job than a stressful one. Get paid to stay in shape, and when the job's done you have something concrete to point at and the job's done. No sleepless nights tossing and turning wondering whether this person or that person is trying to stab you in the back during the current plot arc of everybody's favorite day-time soap opera, Office Politics.

        I will note however that some jobs could be rethought to prevent repetitive stress injuries. But even then, hell. You get to go on disability. These days you get access to weed too. Mission accomplished. Nobody gets to go on disability or have weed when they just simply can't bear a single motherfucking day of pointless office politics and bullshit drama.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Thexalon on Monday July 18 2016, @02:43PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Monday July 18 2016, @02:43PM (#376166)

        "Dirty and smelly" means that:
        - They go home every single day smelling like garbage. Now, if that were just once a week or something, that would be one thing, but do that every single day and your house is going to stink too.
        - Because you and your house is going to stink, good luck finding a partner and having kids, if that's something you want to do with your life.
        - Forget running errands or something after work until you've gotten home and had a shower, for the same reason.

        "Sometimes physically strenuous" means that:
        - Any day on the job, you could end up with a career-ending injury.

        Also, something you didn't mention: All those nasty and sometimes dangerous substances that people throw out? Guess who gets to deal with them?

        My experience, borne out by talking to all sorts of people with many different kinds of jobs, is that the only truly stress-free job in existence is retirement, and then only if the person in question has enough money socked away to know they won't run out.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:58AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:58AM (#376443)

          I imagine several of these posters havent worked long hour blue collar jobs. Lot of places treat you like a dog. And you can get blackballed really fast since most low skilled jobs like that are easily replaceable.
          Try standing on your feet 10 hours a day 6 days a week. And when theres nothing to do you got to look busy. When there is its a fire and you got do something with nothing.

          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday July 19 2016, @02:58PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday July 19 2016, @02:58PM (#376683)

            Hear hear!

            One of the toughest jobs I ever had was restaurant dishwasher - shifts were open to close (11:30 AM to whenever I was done with the last dish), and I had to keep up with the pace of the kitchen and the diners no matter how many we got. And of course in theory I was supposed to get a break and some meals on the job, but that frequently didn't end up actually happening. As an additional challenge, as the first English-speaking dishwasher they'd had for a while, unofficially I was the emotional support for waitstaff who were dealing with really bad customers (e.g. the waitress who was pissed about the customer repeatedly grabbing her tush).

            --
            Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:45AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @04:45AM (#375981)

    When I was a kid watching Nova on TV, I wanted to be a scientist. Then I grew up, and I met scientists: egotistical attention whores, willfully ignorant, and completely obsessed with money, all of them.

    Publishing vacuous crap for money is not science.

    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday July 19 2016, @07:44AM

      by anubi (2828) on Tuesday July 19 2016, @07:44AM (#376549) Journal

      Oh God would I like to say that was flamebait.... but my own observations confirm a lot of what you just said...

      Its enough to induce nausea when I think about it.

      If it was money, they should have gotten into banking. Whoring makes us *all* look bad.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:08AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:08AM (#375997)

    Money problem is that colleges and universities are geared around SPORT and no longer about LEARNING.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:11AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:11AM (#375999)

      Football and basketball pay the bills at the big state universities, as well as many private ones.

      • (Score: 2) by Capt. Obvious on Monday July 18 2016, @05:48AM

        by Capt. Obvious (6089) on Monday July 18 2016, @05:48AM (#376014)

        Sports at most universities fail to cover their own costs. And when they do, coaches ask for raises until that error is fixed.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50AM (#376015)

        Wrong, just absolutely factually wrong. No University athletic program has ever broke even, let alone produced a profit. Now some may argue that there is some cross-over to actual programs in terms of alumnae giving, but I say fuck the football fans, they are failure of whatever University they allegedly graduated from, and really belong in a highschool. So, are we clear about this, Jocky McJockface? Take your sports, and give my University the money that you stole back!!!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:22PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:22PM (#376184)

          No University athletic program has ever broke even, let alone produced a profit. Now some may argue that there is some cross-over to actual programs in terms of alumnae giving,

          What do you think I was talking about, ticket sales?

        • (Score: 2) by rondon on Monday July 18 2016, @04:43PM

          by rondon (5167) on Monday July 18 2016, @04:43PM (#376231)

          I think you are spouting useless trash disguised as fact. Please show me the factual information that supports your position.

        • (Score: 1) by bucket58 on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50PM

          by bucket58 (1305) on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50PM (#376267)

          > Wrong, just absolutely factually wrong. No University athletic program has ever broke even, let alone produced a profit.

          Maybe you should look at the numbers again. You are absolutely factually wrong in saying that athletics departments cant turn a profit.

          http://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances [usatoday.com]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:50AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 19 2016, @12:50AM (#376441)

        The main problem with sports is that it introduces toxic incentives at institutions which are supposed to be about academics.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:09PM (#376178)

      I take it you're from US of A?

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Monday July 18 2016, @03:10PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:10PM (#376179) Journal

      Money problem is that US colleges and universities are geared around SPORT and no longer about LEARNING.

      FTFY.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @05:50AM (#376016)

    Not an English native speaker here, but is it semantically correct in this context to speak of problems facing science? I'd say that science is facing problems.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Zz9zZ on Monday July 18 2016, @06:39AM

      by Zz9zZ (1348) on Monday July 18 2016, @06:39AM (#376025)

      I agree with you, but the phrasing isn't far enough off to trigger most people I think. I didn't even notice it until I read your comment.

      --
      ~Tilting at windmills~
      • (Score: 3, Touché) by q.kontinuum on Monday July 18 2016, @10:41AM

        by q.kontinuum (532) on Monday July 18 2016, @10:41AM (#376098) Journal

        Can we have a trigger warning, just in case?

        "Trigger warning: Articles on this site might contain orthogaphic mistakes , plenks [wikipedia.org] weird or missing punctuation,, grammatically errors and at times some shitty language. Sometimes the semantics and logic is butterfly. However, after surviving this trigger-warning, you should be fine."

        --
        Registered IRC nick on chat.soylentnews.org: qkontinuum
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @02:23PM (#376160)

          Bad choice of wording I guess, damn you PC police!

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Monday July 18 2016, @03:24PM

      by Arik (4543) on Monday July 18 2016, @03:24PM (#376185) Journal
      They are essentially equivalent, there is nothing incorrect in either. I suppose you could argue that the first makes 'science' sound more passive and use that as a reason to prefer the second but it's still a matter of style.
      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @09:57PM (#376390)

        Exactly. No problem here.

        A facing B B facing A.

        • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Monday July 18 2016, @10:49PM

          by Wootery (2341) on Monday July 18 2016, @10:49PM (#376416)

          In this case, sure, but 'facing' is not generally commutative.

          Alice faces Bob is not equivalent to Bob faces Alice.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Monday July 18 2016, @07:25AM

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 18 2016, @07:25AM (#376038) Homepage Journal

    I work at a teaching college, i.e., one that is supposed to be oriented to teaching practical skills, doing projects with industry, etc.. Even here, we have many of these problems:

    1) Academia has a huge money problem

    We are steadily increasing the number of students in each class, and reducing the number of courses required for a degree. This is an attempt to reduce costs. Strangely, the ratio of administrative to academic staff continues to increase, and the school spends a great deal of money on tools (like overblown SharePoint sites) to support the administrative staff.

    4) Peer review is broken

    I'll take this as the "publish or perish" point. Even as a teaching college, the accredidation agency expects to see publications. No one has yet managed to explain how this makes any sense. They - and upper management - want to have some easy KPI, and publications are it.

    6) Science is poorly communicated

    I disagree with this. Some people are interested in science (and engineering, and math, and...). Others are not. Those who are interested can find anything from pop-sci videos to obscure dissertations online.

    7) Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

    I can't really speak to this, not being a "young" academic, and not being in the research rat-race (one of the reasons I chose to work at a teaching college). From prior experience, I can say that the eternal quest for funding is a problem - if you're in research, you spend too much time chasing funds; you can only chase those funds if you have publications, so most of the rest of your time you spend writing "MPI" (minimum publishable increment) papers. The actual amount of time you can spend doing science is far too small. This model is broken.

    It seems to me that the problem is the surfeit of people pursuing advanced degrees, and then trying to go into academia. The current model is a rather brutal and inefficient way of filtering people out, after they have already invested a decade or more of their lives. It would be better to filter earlier: Drop the number of doctoral students by a factor of 10 or more. By the time someone achieves tenure in a research position, the position ought to come with funding. They should be able to do a certain amount of research without worrying about money.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @07:58AM (#376060)

    These 200 experiments [youtube.com] you can verify yourself are actually the biggest problem facing science which ignores them.

    Our most "trusted" scientific institutions lie to us. [sli.mg] Time and again. [youtube.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:13AM (#376094)

      That sli link about NASA is interesting, but I can't find another reference to that anywhere, including the Reddit page they link to...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @06:17PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @06:17PM (#376284)

        The NASA pages supply the images in the link. You can perform the overlay yourself in GIMP.

        The evidence speaks for itself.

    • (Score: 2) by Capt. Obvious on Monday July 18 2016, @10:28AM

      by Capt. Obvious (6089) on Monday July 18 2016, @10:28AM (#376096)

      The sli thing is total BS. It looks the same, because the picture was taken at the same time. The aurora only shows in UV, so there was one image with UV on top, and one without. The citation for the aurora image says that it was an image taken earlier, reused for unspecified reasons.

  • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Monday July 18 2016, @12:00PM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Monday July 18 2016, @12:00PM (#376109)

    As soon as I saw problem #1, I thought "The other problems don't matter, enough"....

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @12:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @12:17PM (#376114)

    The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.

    It takes courage for someone to really break the cycle clean, but everyone's too much of a coward to do it.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tangaroa on Monday July 18 2016, @02:16PM

    by Tangaroa (682) on Monday July 18 2016, @02:16PM (#376157) Homepage

    3) Replicating results is crucial — and rare

    Schools can make replication of randomly assigned studies a standard part of undergrad work. This will teach how to design a study, how to design and follow procedures, and how to write a report.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @03:20PM (#376182)

      Not a bad idea. Besides that we need some public register which shows how many times various experiments have been repeated and whether their results agree with the pioneer.

      Somebody already mentioned open publishing, i.e. weeding out greedy journals and selecting for publication based on scientific value instead of click bait factor. I think it would help solve no less than these 4 points.
      2) Too many studies are poorly designed
      4) Peer review is broken
      5) Too much science is locked behind paywalls
      6) Science is poorly communicated

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 18 2016, @10:02PM (#376393)

        > Not a bad idea. Besides that we need some public register which shows how many times various experiments have been repeated and whether their results agree with the pioneer.

        Yikes! Better not do that with undergrads. As an undergrad, my partner and I measured the speed of light to be 2.99x10^7 m/s within a very tight error margin.

  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Monday July 18 2016, @10:43PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Monday July 18 2016, @10:43PM (#376413)

    But nowadays, our respondents told us, the process is riddled with conflict. Scientists say they're forced to prioritize self-preservation over pursuing the best questions and uncovering meaningful truths.

    Today, scientists' success often isn't measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It's instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

    With the greater availability of research and resources on the Internet, aren't there areas in which citizen scientists fill this gap? Or are the costs and resources still prohibitive to do 'real' science (if that has a valid definition)?