Search This Blog

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Chicken Little" and The Failure of Modern "Science"

Though these last several years have been the hottest on record the predicted "hockey stick" of global warming is still somewhat elusive.

As it turns out temperatures have not risen significantly since 1996 (see this Register article).

The official position of chicken little according to the article is "global warming is still definitely on and the flat temperatures seen for the last 14 years or so are just a statistical fluke of the sort to be expected when trying to measure such a vast and noisy signal as world temperatures with such precision" (underline mine).

You can go to this site to see the underlying scientific data from none other than the East Anglia (of climate gate fame) university data.

That means things like this (with the red hockey stick at the right) from this site

are simply wrong.

You might wonder how reality could be so different from the wonder of big University science.

Well, it turns out you don't have to look very far.

A recent publication "Why Most Published Research Findings are False" sheds some light:

"There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research."

The last underlined section (my own) is perhaps the most telling: "Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias."

Fortunately for all of us the contents of the paper are freely available through the link provided above.

The paper, while somewhat technical, basically points to a "follow the leader" mentality where some event is thought to be statistically meaningful but, due to lack of understanding of statistics and research methodology, is not (see this on the notion of p-value).  And, even though the event is not actually significant, others "pile on" with similar "follow-up" studies "confirming" the false premise.

This paper directly addresses the medical field but I see no reason that its methodology and reasoning wouldn't apply to, say, climate science.

The problem here is that today's researchers are simply not understanding how biased their view make their research.

So how can all the "chicken little" scientific studies be wrong?

So the "official" climate track is supposedly this:

As you can see things kind of grow "flat" at the extreme right.

These data show that the temperature is not rising as predicted by the "climate models."

"Not rising as predicted" in academic speak means that the results are, er, well WRONG.

So if the climate model cannot predict a "fluke" is it still a valid climate model?

That's an interesting question for which no one seems to have an answer.

Good science is hard to do - particularly when making sure that what you are studying is not biased in any way.

But today's college grads (as well as those graduating from perhaps as far back as the mid 1980's) were taught to get degrees as a means of a good job and not as a means of pursuing a passion.

(Generally if you do something because you love it you respect the process, i.e., you learn the statistics so that you don't create a bias.)

And with the almighty government funding things its always easier to get more funds for more research, i.e., "keeping your job," by finding problems that need yet more funding (to those with college degrees this is known as a bias).

So my guess is that we are all wasting a lot of time on something no one in fact has a good handle on.

And, even $16 trillion USD in debt our leaders still run after questionable science as if were "gospel."

And, speaking of "gospel" I wonder if the atheists out there who worship at the alter of "science" are aware of this?

I wonder, does this bias creep into things, e.g., evolution, as well?

So, as an atheist does one actually question the fact that much of science might in fact be wrong?


No comments:

Post a Comment