Most Scientific Research is Fraudulent: 1

There I said it.. The vast majority of so called scientific research is fraudulent. This statement might seem surprising given my profession, but sadly it is true. But all is not lost and, in this article series, I will show you how to recognize scientific fraud. While each area of research is different, scientific fraud shares some common characteristics.

The first thing you should know – Certain fields are much less prone to fraud. ‘Hard’ sciences such as physics, chemistry, basic biological research are almost fraud free . The worst abuses you typically see in these areas involve exaggeration and some data manipulation.

Certain fields such as biomedical research and related areas have a very high percentage of fraud. Indeed, most of biomedical research is either outright fraudulent, obtained after extensive data manipulation or is irrelevant . However areas that involve extensive speculation and solipsism on scarce experimental data such as archeology, paleontology, eCONomics, psychology, climate modelling are the worst offenders. It is reasonable to assume that all research findings and interpretations in these areas are fraudulent (though some may be half-truths at best).

So why is it hard to commit extensive fraud in physics, chemistry and basic biology?

The reasons are:

1] It is very easy to cross-check experimental data, therefore most fraud are quickly exposed. Biomedical researchers can hide behind the BS of their experimental models being unique.

2] Most ‘hard’ science research is well funded, but grants are not extravagant. The incentive to defraud is far less than say biomedical research, where public drama and proclamations often mean the difference between big grants and nothing.

3] Hard sciences look down on unfounded and untestable speculation and extensive data interpretation. Biomedical sciences encourage it and areas like psychology, eCONomics, climate modeling revel in it.

4] In most areas of “research” people design “experiments” to validate their assumptions and beliefs. Hard sciences discourage such confirmatory ‘research’, because it is anathema to the very concept of scientific inquiry.

5] Personality cults are far more common in areas such as psychology, eCONomics and yes.. biomedical research. Too many have much vested in a particular world-view or explanation. Areas other than ‘hard’ sciences have more in common with religion than science.

Remember that the next time you read or hear about the “latest breakthrough” for a disease, “new facts or discoveries” in psychology, eCONomics or archeology.

More in the next part of this series.

  1. April 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    This is all very true. Basically, the less that a field is based on hard, easily verifiable facts and data, the greater a chance for fraud. Whenever incompetence and failure isn’t punished, there is always a lot of it.

    The worst offender is the humanities. Nothing in the annals of literary studies or any related field is based on anything in the real world – it’s all bullshit theory based on whatever idiotic ideology is in season. Everyone from the Ph.D wielding professors writing in “peer-reviewed” journals to the bong-smoking undergrads turning in term papers at the last minute is just making it up as they go along. You can turn in just about any crap you want so long as you cite your sources properly and sound persuasive.

  2. jaketurner
    April 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I’m an economics undergrad, about to turn grad student, at a top UK university. I can vouch that most of what I do is exercises in abstract thought to show I’m intelligent. My degree is just a big card with ‘fairly clever’ stamped on it. There is no science in it, and it certainly isn’t empirical in the real sense of the term. The BSc name is bullshit. It should stand for Bogus Science con.

    The difference is that I pay just over £1000/year tuition ($1500) with no scholarship or other grant, so I get my big card for the price of a battered old car.

    Universities in the US are a scam for most people. I don’t get how they sustain these ridiculous debts. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a certificate and few tangible skills? I’m not sure I would.

  3. Matt
    April 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I will say that the weather modeling folks I have dealt with have usually been very short on honesty. There is so much chaos involved in the calculations that they are really good at handwaving things away. I suspect “climate scientists” are even worse/

    • May 22, 2017 at 8:52 am

      The whole Climate Change thing is a con. No empirical evidence to prove the global temperatures are rising (most of the monitoring stations are in or near cities so of course that could be the reason) and just a lot of theory presented as fact.

      Mount Pinatubo in the Phillippines erupted in 1991 and belched as much greenhouse gases (including CFCs) in the space of a week as the whole human race did since the Industrial Revolution. No climate change.

      Anyone calling them out on their lies or even questioning any part of it is called a Climate Change Denier. Typical Leftist sacred cow.

  1. April 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm
  2. April 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm
  3. February 28, 2018 at 6:52 pm

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