7 thoughts on “Violating The Norms And Ethos Of Science”

  1. This is a tremendous comment by Judith Curry on Lewandowski’s flawed conception of Science. It deserves widespread dissemination. And somehow I feel leads to the one obvious conclusion: Follow the money.

    I would love to read a well researched book on how government grants are issued today as compared to 25, 30, 50, 60 or more years back. Are we facing a revolving door these days? Whatever happened to independent review boards, staffed by folks outside the field in order to avoid conflicts of interest? Am I totally off-base? It feels like the wheels have come off the wagon. Or is it just me? Suggestions for appropriate background reading appreciated….

    1. No, it isn’t just you. When I started my career, we were told to put everything we had done, to the smallest equation and assumption, in our papers so that others could replicate it. In the internet age, there is no excuse for not only doing that, but also putting your data online for others to access.

      It is in the researcher’s interest. Allowing others to take potshots, and successfully refuting them, strengthens one’s case. Hoarding data, and refusing to divulge one’s methods, weakens it, and leads naturally to the distrust and rancor that the authors use to advocate short circuiting of the process. By their own actions is the problem created, and they want to deal with it by doubling down on the dysfunction.

      1. In my tenth grade chemistry class we were required to check each others’ lab notebooks for accurate data and correct algebra. But apparently that sort of thing is unscientific.

  2. It’s an iron law: once science is able to control policy, science will become politicized, exactly because it provides a lever to control policy.

    This is, of course, the exact error theocracies make… It starts by trying to ensure your politicians are men of god, and ends up with all the senior clergy becoming typically corrupt politicians.

    1. Worse, once government speaks with the authority of “god”, or “science”, questioning government takes on an additional dimension, leaving government less accountable.

    2. In Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, immediately following his oft-quoted “military industrial complex” warning, comes this:

      Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

      In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

      Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

      The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

      Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

      It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

  3. Mertonian, Shmertonian. That’s just four norms, or principles, or [[hipster sneer]] “rules”. The whole theory of man-made “global warming” violates every one of the tenets of Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detector Kit”.

Comments are closed.