• Dear Science Conspiracy Theorists

    You are idiots. Let me take a minute to explain why.

    You have probably read the recent report about BioMed Central retracting some 43 papers for fraud. These papers appear to have been presented with fraudulent reviewers (either people who do not exist or people who did not actually review the papers in question). I would encourage everyone to read the BioMed blog post on the subject.

    Yes, the peer-review process is about trust. Yes, the peer-review process can be manipulated by people with a vested interest in being published. Blah blah blah. I don’t dismiss these concerns at all.

    What I do dismiss are the claims that all science is fundamentally flawed because of this. What I do dismiss is those people who will (and already have) use this to promote their chosen anti-science stance (especially global warming denial and GMO denial).

    But more importantly, I want to tell the people who believe that science is a global conspiracy that they are morons.

    First, let’s look at this charge of “conspiracy among scientists”. The thing about a conspiracy is that all the people involved have to keep quiet about it. These science conspiracy people somehow think that the hundreds of thousands of research scientists all over the world, most of whom make less than an entry level position in any other field you care to name, and whom all work in system in which being noticed is vitally important, all will continue to be underpaid and unnoticed when all it would take is one person to step forward.

    You know, at least people who think that there is a global Illuminati or something could make a case for secrecy. These would be rich, powerful people who want to stay rich and powerful. Scientists are almost universally not rich. They are much like atheists in that the biggest names (especially in controversial subjects) are highly reviled. And the rest of them are almost complete unknowns. For example, can you name three living scientists without including Neil deGrasse Tyson or Stephen Hawking? And Bill Nye is an engineer, not a scientist. Sorry.

    I cannot image that all of the hundreds of thousands of scientists all agree to be underpaid and ignored, when a handful coming out would be the heroes of the world (for fifteen minutes, then everyone would go back to ignoring them). I can’t image that the Koch brothers can’t find 5 scientists to promote this conspiracy for the billions that they have. It’s ludicrous.

    Second, let’s look at the particulars of this particular (and other retractions). The most important question in this discussion is “Who found these problems?” The answer is SCIENTISTS.

    Trust me, these discoveries of fraud or any discoveries of scientific fraud were not made by auto mechanics or nurses. For all the skills and training that other people have, they are not capable of making those kinds of discoveries.

    That means that the people whom you conspiracy theory believers think are a part of the conspiracy are actually… well.. not.

    Remember Piltdown man?  A great hoax played on the scientific community. It took scientists 40 years to really gather sufficient evidence to prove it was a fraud. That work wasn’t done by common guys who distrusted all those elitist science types.

    What about cold-fusion? A fraud or just a mistake made by over-zealous researchers? Who knows. But the problems were uncovered by other scientists, not some guy in his basement with a cold-fusion set-up.

    That’s how science works. Someone says something (publishes) and other check those results. It’s why scientific publications have a very detailed Methods and Processes section. Specifically so others can check their work.

    But now, we live in an era of media hype and rushing to get the scoop on the next greatest thing. We also live in an era with too many scientists and not enough well funded places for them to work. Everyone is trying their best to get those good research spots. We have academics leaving academia because of the pay. One bio-statistician left a job in academia where he made several important contributions after ten years. He was still not tenure track. He was making less than $30k a year. He went into a corporation starting with a 6 figure salary. I can’t find the link, but I’m sure someone will remember that blog post.

    Yet, these are people that still debunk their fellow scientists when they make a mistake. Because that’s how science works.

    So, there is no global conspiracy of scientists. The things that scientists say are the best data that they have right now. Tomorrow, that may change, but that’s OK. That’s what science is like.

    But tomorrow will not bring the end of evolution, the end of global warming, or GMOs being dangerous. There’s just too much evidence supporting them and that’s what we mean when we say, “the science is settled”. Yes, we may argue about the relative percentage of natural selection vs. genetic drift. But that doesn’t mean evolution is wrong. We may argue about the percent of sulfur forcing vs. particulate forcing, but it doesn’t mean that global warming is wrong.

    So my dear conspiracy theorist friends and family. Just go away. Leave me alone. Go live in your Luddite fantasy where you single-handedly defeat Obama, socialism, Democrats, and science people who disagree with you. The rest of us will continue to live in the real world and try to make it a better place for you.

    Category: CulturefeaturedScienceSkepticism


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat