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Response to DanTex (Reply #20)

Sat Jun 9, 2012, 02:40 AM

43. "Scientific Integrity"

 

Peer Review is Flawed

You: Peer review is flawed!
Me: Well, yes, but if you want to ignore a decades long record of peer-reviewed research by dozens of scientists in several different fields and from top research institutions, it's going to take a little more than just "peer-review is flawed"...
You: Peer review is flawed!


Be serious.

First of all, I don't recall reading you admitting anything about peer review other than possibly a mild admission that "it might not be perfect" or the like. That's equivalent to acknowledging that it is done by humans--a far cry from what the experts I quoted said. You have never, as far as I know, admitted anything approaching the quotes in the OP.

More than that, your caricature of my argument reveals more about you than about my case. The issue you are carefully ignoring is that the flaws with peer review are particularly matched to the subject at hand. It is obviously not acceptable to many researchers that guns are good or even neutral to society. That applies to Hemmenway, Rosenberg and many others. According to a legitimate authority on medical peer review--as opposed to a guy with an axe to grind who I am talking to on the internet, that is to say you--peer review is simply a crude way to determine acceptability. Well 2 + 2 still equals 4, whether you want to admit it or not. The question of whether an idea (like the idea that guns may be positive or neutral) is acceptable to researchers is crucial to whether or not their peer review is worthwhile.

That argument is a far cry from your simpllistic caricature of my argument.


I Disagree, Therefore I Am Unaware

You seem completely unaware of the fact that interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research is not only common and widely accepted, but also is often very productive as people from different fields bring a unique perspective and a new set of techniques. And actually, it's a shame that your political blinders are so severe that you can't appreciate this point. Otherwise, you'd probably find this interesting: you'd google around and find plenty of examples of fruitful collaborations between scientists in different fields (mathematicians applying coding theory to DNA sequences, physicists using models for vibrating particles to study the movements of stock prices, etc.). But instead, your politics require you to stick to the "Me CRIMINOLOGIST! You DOCTOR!" script.


I disagree with you, so I must be unaware?

I gave the example or mechanical engineers collaborating with cardiologists on hearts. The engineers bring expertise in materials, structures, fluid flow, etc. And that's perfectly fine. But someone better bring expertise in hearts. There is nothing at all wrong with "mathematicians applying coding theory to DNA sequences" as long as there is someone on board who thoroughly understands DNA!

The OP isn't about legitimate collaborations; can you understand that?


Peer Review is Flawed, the Sequel

Yes, we get it, peer review is flawed? You win! I agree completely! You don't need to repeat it 37 different times.


It not simply that peer review is flawed. All human endeavors are flawed (with the possible near exception of certain branches of mathematics). Admissions that peer review is a human endeavor are worlds away from what real experts say. The point is not that it is flawed, it is HOW it is flawed and how those flaws fit the subject at hand. But keep pretending if it makes you feel better.

...anonymous gun bloggers,


Yawn... There’s an anonymous anti-gun poster I’d like to introduce you to. He’s a character.


An Anti-Scientific War, Explained

Sorry, but Rosenberg did not "announce an anti-scientific war".


Let's see. He announced that he wanted to start a campaign against guns. The idea was to use "science" to advance an anti-gun agenda. A little thought will show that this is anti-science. It starts with the goal and shoehorns the "science" into its service. Science doesn't work that way. And it is a war, because it is a calculated, preplanned attack on rights. Yes he did "announce an anti-scientific war" on gun rights. Your saying that he didn't cannot change reality.


“One Sentence”, “One Man”

Really, for someone whose hobby is denying peer-reviewed science, it's a bit surreal for you to claim that one sentence quoted in a news article constitutes "high caliber evidence".


Wow. Just wow.

1) A journalist interviewed a leader about a cause both leader and journalist believe in fervently.
2) The leader laid out a plan for advancing the cause they both believe in.
3) The journalist quoted a sentence to summarize the goal and the strategy of the leader.

Let's look at a parallel. Let's say Steve Jobs granted an interview to a reporter (while he was still alive) and revealed that he wanted to revolutionize the music industry. The journalist obviously supported Job’s goal. He laid out the strategy and goal he got from the interview and quoted Steve talking about his goal and how he intended to meet it.

Are you really so clueless that you would not regard that as high caliber evidence of Steve Job's intentions and plans? I think you're using special thinking that you wouldn't apply to any other subject.

Do you think the American Cancer Society is waging and "anti-scientific war on smoking" because they also engage in both advocacy and science? How about the climate scientists who also engage in political advocacy?


This is very elementary, and I can't help but think you're feigning convenient ignorance. If I study X and find that its presence in the water causes children to die from a disease, then advocate against X, that is legitimate. If I plan a campaign against X and want to use "science" in the service of propaganda to advance an agenda of "dirty, deadly - and banned" that is illegitimate. It is a declaration of war against X. It is anti-scientific. Can you see the difference?! Let's not pretend that these are equivalent situations.

And here's the thing. Thanks to the peer review system, one person can't actually corrupt the scientific process very easily, even if he wanted to. That's because in order to produce a record of peer-reviewed studies, you need a lot of other people in on the scam: the scientists doing the research, the journals where it gets published, and the anonymous referees doing the peer review.


One person? One person?!!

When Obama said he wanted to kill terrorists, I didn't think he was planning on going through Seal training. When Steve Jobs said he wanted to revolutionize music distribution, I didn't picture him writing the code for the iTunes store and uploading the songs. If a leader a vision to the press, that means, almost without exception, that he has

1) Talked to other people above and below him about the advisability of the goal and the strategy
2) Put his finger to the wind and seen how popular his proposal is likely to be with the target audience
3) Ensured that he has the support of his bosses or is likely to be well received by customers

Of course, Rosenberg is the exception. He woke up that morning and thought, "I am going to try to make guns 'dirty, deadly - and banned', I think I'll go talk to a reporter about my new idea!"

He didn't know that he had the support of his superiors at the CDC and possibly the President for his propaganda campaign. He had no idea whether he had the sympathy and support of people like Hemmenway and others. He didn't know whether researchers would line up for CDC money, researchers who shared his vision and would reach the proper results. He had no idea if gun control was popular among medical professionals. He had no idea if his employees were likely to revolt against his anti-science approach.

And no, I am not saying that Rosenberg, Hemmenway and others got together in a dark basement and formed a formal, classic conspiracy. No, these guys think "guns are bad, let's use science to prove just how bad." They don't even consider the idea that guns are positive or neutral, just like most people don't consider the possibility that cannibalism, child porn and slavery are neutral or good.

Rosenberg thought he was stating obvious TRUTH. The reason for his unforced error was his conviction that the TRUTH that guns should be "dirty, deadly - and banned" was self-evident.

You will never convince me that slavery is good. We may disagree on precisely how bad it is, what its negative effects are and are not, and how best to eliminate it, but belief that slavery is good is beyond the pale. To Rosenberg and many like him, guns are bad. The idea that they are positive or even neutral is beyond the pale. Science is only useful to back up the obvious TRUTH.


A Crude Means of Discovering Acceptability

For example, the oil companies have for years been trying to get anti-global warming studies into peer-reviewed journals and mostly failed. Another example is NCCAM, which provides funding for studies on alternative medicine, things like homeopathy. There are plenty of people who would like to see peer-reviewed studies showing that homeopathy works, but homeopathy does not work, and the peer-reviewed science shows that very clearly.


Are there plenty of people peer reviewing medical articles who "would like to see peer-reviewed studies showing that homeopathy works"? No, there are not.

Now think for a moment. What would happen to a young researcher who found an instance where it did work and tried to publish?

What would happen to a researcher who found evidence that smoking--once or twice a month for ceremonial purposes, let's say--actually tends to prevent certain diseases? I would not trust the medical establishment as far as I could throw it to evaluate such a claim. There are multiple layers of resistance. The idea that smoking, even very rarely, is positive is not acceptable to the medical community. Therefore, peer review by the medical community will reject that idea. Some reviewers
might even be able to see the reality, but will reject such papers for other reasons. What if children hear that smoking is healthy? What if people skip over the part about the tobacco being natural and only used bi-monthly? What effect will this have on anti-smoking campaigns that save lives? I oppose smoking in enclosed public places and around children in the home, but I can see that the medical establishment wouldn’t be a fair judge.


Scientific Integrity. And Irony.

The reality is that the NRA cutting off funding for political rather than scientific reasons is simply not justified. If bad science is being pushed, the scientific community should make this determination, not a right-wing lobby group with a political agenda. The fact that you are defending the NRA in this may be the best proof yet that you lack even a drop of scientific integrity, and are interested only in the politics here.


This if funny. I "defend the NRA" because the facts support their position in this case. If you show me the right evidence, I will "support" my worst enemy. And your "IF" is telling. In the face of proof, you cannot bring yourself to concede that false, agenda-driven science was being pushed.

"We're right because we're us and they're wrong because they're them" is one of, if not the, most terrifying of human delusions. It lead to the worst atrocities of history.

The NRA is not wrong when it is the NRA, it is wrong when it deviates from correct principles.

The Republicans were right when they opposed slavery and fought for civil rights (including the individual RKBA). The Democrats were wrong when they supported slavery and Jim Crow.

Republicans are wrong today as they use racial division for political gain. Democrats are right to oppose it. See how the side that deserves to be "defended" is based in principle, and isn't based on the name of the group?

The fact that you are defending the NRA in this may be the best proof yet that you lack even a drop of scientific integrity, and are interested only in the politics here.


No person who even understands what science is could have honestly written that sentence. Science is about discovering truth, not ensuring that one is against the NRA. I defend the truth as I see it. Anyone who that happens to help gets the benefit. The scientific method does not consist, to the tiniest degree, in ensuring that one is opposing the NRA.

Unfortunately, your view is probably the prevalent one among too many gun researchers today. You would fit right in as a peer reviewer where scientific integrity = opposition to the NRA.

And you dare lecture me about scientific integrity--or integrity of any sort whatsoever? Wow.

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DanTex Jun 2012 #16
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gejohnston Jun 2012 #33
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