JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Sea level height based on aerobics and other gibberish published in top science journals

Nature and Elsevier are agog and aghast that hundreds of junk papers filled with random word salad have been published in their esteemed journals.

It’s as bad as it sounds — one retracted title was: “‘Sea level height based on big data of Internet of Things and aerobics teaching in coastal areas’. “

They are shocked that scammers who were “organised” and “sophisticated” found tricks to get published — wait for it — not just by hyping up, adjusting and exaggerating their cherry-picked papers and incompetent models, but with nothing more than fake e-mails “with ‘univ’ instead of ‘uni’ and ‘-ac.uk’ instead of ‘.ac.uk’”. That’s right, the highest and most intellectual “peer review” journals in the world have such inadequate, nonexistent standards, that not only do they fail to weed out weak papers, they couldn’t even defend themselves against randomized nonsense coming from fake professors with dodgy emails.

In other words, no one who matters even reads the papers before they are published.

Indeed, no one even read the titles…

Scammers impersonate guest editors to get sham papers published

Nature

Hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals are being retracted after scammers exploited the processes for […]

Portland State Uni supports vilification, disruption, intimidation to enforce ideological conformity

Peter Boghossian has taught philosophy at Portland State University for ten years and he has just quit in protest.

Peter Boghossian

He fought against Woke ideology. He helped write hoax papers to expose how meaningless peer review is and exposed students to politically incorrect speakers to hone their powers of reasoning. For that he has been subject to extraordinary vilification, inquisitions, and a campaign of disruption. His students were interviewed to find instances of “discrimination” and the investigators even asked them if they knew anything about him “beating his wife and children”, fueling rumors that he was a violent misogynist. He was given no right of reply. It’s character assassination by any means possible. The University did nothing to stop it.

Even petty methods were used to silence and intimidate him. Fire alarms interrupted an interview, bags of faeces were delivered, and speaker wires were pulled out during a live panel discussion. This reminds me of stories of how the Chinese Communist Party targets dissidents overseas with petty disruptions like having minions bang pots and pans in alleys to wake them in the dead of night.

It’s almost like the CCP runs the universities of the West.

My […]

Clickbait is a winner: The most cited articles in top science journals turned out to be flops

Skeptics have known for years that Nature was more about fashion than science. A parody from 2019.

When it comes to scientific truths, even in top journals like Science and Nature, the more wrong it is, the more it gets cited. Even after other researchers have failed to repeat it, and been published saying so, the citations don’t slow down. Almost 9 out of 10 of the new citations keep citing it as if it were still correct. Who said science was self-correcting?

It’s so bad that the junkier articles in Nature and Science that couldn’t be replicated were cited 300 times as often as the more boring papers that could be replicated. In other words, the supposedly best two science journals, and the industry that reads them, have become a filter for eye-candy-science-junk.

And it was all so predictable — with the fixation on “counting citations” as an inane substitute for analysis: we got what we didn’t think about. The drive to get citations and media headlines means the modern industry of science has become a filter to amplify sensationalism, not science.

Science is a form of entertainment, not a search for the truth.

A new […]

Busted: Reef fish aren’t bothered by “acidification” and James Cook Uni isn’t bothered by potential fraud.

“Clark et al. (2020) found 100% replication failure. None of the findings of the original eight studies were found to be correct.”

Scientists tried to repeat eight experiments that showed “acidification” would make reef fish get hyper, act like their predators smell nice, and generally swim in the wrong circles, behave weirdly and need therapy sessions. Turns out the fish will be OK, but James Cook Uni’s reputation may never recover. The original junk experiments and press releases came out of the coral reef centre at JCU.

This is the “replication crisis” Peter Ridd warned us about. He was fired from JCU in 2018 after stating that work from JCU’s coral reef centre (ARCCoE) was not trustworthy. He also helped expose manipulated photos of reef fish. Obviously this latest reef research shows he was right to be concerned about quality assurance at JCU. One JCU researcher, Oona Lönnstedt, had already been caught fabricating data in Sweden, and yet JCU “investigated” and sacked Ridd faster than it investigated her suspicious lionfish shots. Indeed, two years on, JCU has not even officially appointed the committee to investigate her potentially fraudulent work. It seems JCU would rather employ untrustworthy scientists than […]

Skeptics get 49% more media, and other fairy fantasy stories from Nature Gossip Mag

Skeptics get banned, rejected, blocked and sacked from the mainstream media yet somehow Nature has a paper on Skeptics getting too much media. Believers don’t have to be an expert to control the news agenda, just a Greenpeace activist, or a teenage girl. Skeptics on the other hand, can be Nobel Prize winners, but the BBC won’t even phone them.

Nature, the former science giant, just launched the tenets of science over the event horizon. This paper is Argument from Authority rolled into false equivalence, and powered with cherry-picked errors in both category and in categorization. Nonsense on a rocket. It’s not what science is, and it’s not what journalism should be either. And Nature is supposed to be both. Judith Curry calls it The latest travesty in ‘consensus enforcement’ and the worst paper she has ever seen in a reputable journal.

….

Both David Evans and I get a mention on what is effectively Nature‘s blacklist. What an honour! No really — there are 386 great names. Even more of an honour is a mention on Judith Curry’s site “blogs she’s learnt something from”. (By some freak, my name comes right after Freeman Dyson and Ivar […]

Humanities research politicized too: Silly fake papers “feminist Mein Kampf” get through peer review

Unfalsifiable theories and no dissenting ideas allowed

A kind of social snakeoil is being pushed upon us….

a culture has developed that make only some conclusions allowed.

Three left wing academics wanted to expose the political corruption in feminist, sexuality, queer, gender, race and fat studies. They hoped to bring back some rigor and reintroduce skepticism to peer review. They submitted 20 outrageously fake papers (like a feminist rewrite of Mein Kampf), got seven accepted so far, but outed themselves. They found they could get ridiculous things published as long as they framed the idea in politically fashionable terminology.

Project Summary: ○ This problem has arisen within a culture in which dissenting ideas have not been admitted or tolerated, often resulting in legitimate criticisms being denigrated on moral grounds. For example, questioning tenets of feminist philosophy might get you branded sexist or accused of carrying internalized misogyny. Questioning critical race scholarship is written off as exhibiting “white fragility” (Robin DiAngelo, 2011, 2018), “white ignore-ance” (Barbara Applebaum, 2006), a form of intentional ignorance, a form of resistance, or seeking white approval. Of note, it is impossible to counter such claims, and attempts to […]

Forbidden facts and scientific papers that are erased: Thou shalt not discuss intelligence

Announcing the advent of the disappeared scientific paper:

Three days later, however, the paper had vanished. And a few days after that, a completely different paper by different authors appeared at exactly the same page of the same volume (NYJM Volume 23, p 1641+) where mine had once been.

What topic is too hot to discuss? In this case, hotter than climate — variability of intelligence. Obviously, it is an irrelevant construct, so irrelevant it must be outlawed. This debate got so ugly, half the board members of the second journal threatened not just to resign but to harass their own journal til “it died”. It’s that bad.

These institutions are sitting ducks — staffed with nice busy people who avoid conflict and who are not equipped to handle the missiles coming. Empiricism and rational debate is being replaced with bullying and censorship. See his plea at the end. To fight back against the bullies, spread the word, buy Ted Hill’s book, or subscribe to Quillette.

Quillette: Academic Activists Send a Published Paper Down the Memory Hole

Ted Hill is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Georgia Tech. He has just published a memoir PUSHING LIMITS: From […]

85% clinical medical research is false, or not useful, not worth the money – government funded waste

John Ioannidis paints a picture of a vast hive of researchers all pushed to publish short papers that are mostly a waste of time. The design is bad, the results useless (even when meta-collated with other badly designed studies). Basically, humankind is pouring blood, sweat and tears into spinning wheels in medicine — just paper churn. Most papers will never help a patient.

Ioannidis wants rigor – full registration before the study, full transparency afterwards, fewer studies over all, but with better design. Astonishingly, fully 85% of what is spent on clinical trials is wasted. It’s really a pretty big scandal, given that lives are on the line. I can’t see the media or pollies joining the dots. Imagine how many quality life-years are being burnt at the stake of the self-feeding Science-PR-Industry.

And this is clinical medical research, where standards are higher than in many other scientific areas and where there are easily defined terms of success unlike “blue sky” studies. Ioannidis doesn’t say it directly, but his description of the effect current funding has (which is almost all government based) almost guarantees that researchers will be wasting time in the paper churn — fast, short papers of little […]

How many children died because peer reviewed data was buried and results cherry-picked?

This example below shows the dangers of cherry picked and buried data. It shows how great news and joy can be reported from rancid results, and the only protection against this is open access. When the taxpayer funds research that is not fully and transparently public, and immediately available, the people are funding PR rather than science. “Peer review” does little to stop this, little to clean up the mess after it happens, and the truth can take years to be set free.

Ten percent of teenagers taking an anti-depressant harmed themselves or attempted suicide. This was ten times the rate of the teens on the placebo. The results of this clinical trial were published in 2001, but those alarming statistics were not reported. The drug went on to be widely used. A new reanalysis of the data, reported in the BMJ, revealed the dark and hidden dangers. The company that funded the research, Glaxo Smith Kline, has already faced record fines of $4.2 billion. The Journal of the Ameri­can Academy of Child and Adoles­cent Psychiatry won’t retract the paper.

There are many ways to hide data. In this case, the results of the trial include 80,000 records which were […]

Shaking the foundation of medical research: Half of failed peer reviewed papers “spun” as success

Was that a half-truth or a lie by omission? Trick question…

Malcolm Kendrick reports on a new study that he says should “shake the foundations of medical research” but laments that it almost certainly won’t.

In the year 2000, the US National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) insisted that all researchers register their “primary aim” and then later their “primary outcome” with clinicaltrials.gov. This one small change in the way medical studies were reported transformed the “success” rates in peer reviewed papers. Before 2000, fully 57% of studies found the success they said they were testing for, but after that, their success rate fell to to a dismal 8%. When people didn’t have to declare what their aim was, they could fish through their results to find some positive, perhaps tangential association, and report that as if they had been investigating that effect all along. The negative results became invisible. If a diet, drug or treatment showed no benefit at all, or turned up bad results, nobody had to know.

The world of peer reviewed climate research: like a universe of dark matter

It’s not like climate science suffers from unpublished “negative results” — no, it’s more […]