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Last post Author Topic: Peer Review and the Scientific Process  (Read 56948 times)

Renegade

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #175 on: February 16, 2015, 01:31:08 AM »
Fraud and cover-ups at the FDA?

http://www.slate.com...den_from.single.html

http://www.wired.com...ng-americans-health/

Quote
Want some examples? How about the study on a treatment for leg blood clots that claimed the legs were getting a lot better, when one of the patients actually needed his foot amputated? Or falsified research in eight of the 16 research sites investigating a single blood clotting treatment? Or the researcher who was disbarred and sent to prison for overdosing a chemotherapy patient? All of these were reported in warning letters, but missing from the peer-reviewed research.

Hm.
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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #176 on: February 24, 2015, 05:13:28 AM »
A post that points out how many scientific debates are framed as false dichotomies, i.e. You either accept everything we say 100% or you're an idiot.

https://www.reddit.c...an_alternative_view/

Quote

The War On Science: An alternative view (self.conspiracy)

submitted 18 hours ago by qthagun [+1]

(Note: this article is written to go with the March 2015 National Geographic cover


large image (cover)


 ; it is such an excellent piece of propaganda that it can be easily subverted for an alternative viewpoint.)

Do you remember a time before there were Wars, with a capital W, on intangible ideas? As an American who's only in their 30s, I can't say that I do; my first introduction to our political paradigm was the War on Drugs. I still can't really tell you what a Drug is these days, the legal pharmaceuticals we manufacture killing more people each year than the few illegal scheduled Drugs, science showing that sugar and cocaine activate similar reward pathways. In the US our drug addiction rate hasn't really changed since the 1970s, while the amount we spend on drug control each year has skyrocketed from the millions to the tens of billions. We view Prohibition as a charming relic of the past, while we raid medical marijuana dispensaries at home and guard captured opium fields abroad. I guess that tells you what a War on an Intangible Idea entails.

The same media which raised my generation on the War on Drugs, and the following generation on the War on Terror, has a new War for a new generation. Enter: The War on Science. Everything from Climate Change to the moon landings to vaccinations, these uneducated idiots are coming for you! And if there's one thing we know about uneducated idiots, it's that they're organized and good at what they do. And what they do is get everything wrong and cause all of our problems. It's 2015 you uneducated idiots! Don't you know that we have the right answers for everything? That's why we have experts.

We've actually put a few of our own experts to work on this cover photo, lovingly recreating that famous scene etched into all of our memories. Notice our attention to detail, taking care to ensure the dust underneath the LEM's engine is completely undisturbed, with no blast crater or any evidence of propulsive landing whatsoever. Looks just like the real NASA thing with the exception of our devoted worker who's almost spoiling the illusion with his size. We wanted to show everyone just how easy it is to recreate these scenes for a camera (minus the long journey back home to Earth for our worker and crew). But let's not get too distracted by the past; besides pointing out that it is impossible to prove a negative (such as that something didn't happen or that something doesn't exist), we'll leave "removing one of truth's protective layers" (Neil Armstrong, 1994) for another exercise, as this upcoming War on Science has much more immediate political concerns.

Let's start with the careful selection of messages on this cover, the witches we'll need to burn if we want to be warriors in defense of Science. "Climate change does not exist". We are officially 1984 now. "Climate change" is a tautology by its definition. There is no way to define the climate of the entire planet in a static way; it always changes. What also always changes are the political arguments attached to such a vague topic as Climate Change. Most of the media my generation consumed focused on Global Warming, while a few decades earlier the same mobs were whipped up with fear of Global Cooling. Today it is Climate Change and no one can really define it except that it's scary and coming for you. Everyone knows we are polluting our air and our water, but they want you arguing about whether or not the Climate is changing and in which direction. We've covered up the deep recession since 2008 with the explosive growth of fracking, destroying our own land for short-term profit, but instead of looking at that they want to propose carbon taxes and cap and trade schemes, ultimately resulting in a whole new regulating government bureaucracy. We're currently waging war on our own environment and they want you arguing about how we can prevent Climate Change.

Next up in pithy slogans is "Evolution never happened", excellent bait for a controversy as it simultaneously muddies up a topic and then simplifies it to a false dichotomy. Here we have an example of the War on Science already occurring. The definition of evolution itself has evolved multiple times in my lifetime. Discovering mitochondrial DNA and a common human female ancestor of ~200,000 years ago exemplifies the process of science, where continual questioning and investigation overturn our past understanding and open up all new avenues of questioning. It is a thing of beauty to behold. But instead we're encouraged to divide ourselves into camps, to claim we finally have it all right, to choose sides in a battle between the Current Conclusions of Science TM and anyone who would question. All shades of nuance are ignored: you either agree with the Current Conclusions of Science TM or you are an uneducated idiot whose very existence threatens us all.

This is what the cover illustrates and what the War on Science is: an all or nothing proposition. How else could we be made to spend all of our time arguing against ourselves? Simply frame the argument such that both sides are wrong, but both sides have legitimate grievances, and you've engineered a propaganda playground for the unwitting. Keep the medium brief and the content fast; no one has time for anything more than that. We definitely need someone to blame. Everyone senses something is wrong with our world. Wasn't Science supposed to deliver us from this? Maybe all these problems are because enough people aren't going with the flow anymore. That's why we need to regularly reinforce the one conclusion that has never been overturned: we know what we're talking about, because we have our experts working on it.

Which is why we can tell you with complete confidence that genetically modified food isn't evil. Who can say what evil is anyway, but an emotional idea loaded with religious and moral connotations, undefinable by either either science or the law. It's a useful term to generate endless arguments, framing the subject emotionally to engage feelings before thought. Everyone intuitively understands that there is an information war going on, and so often we take our sides first and that is the extent of our communication. We are encouraged to segregate ourselves based on our ideas and when one of the sides we can choose is the Current Conclusions of Science TM, the choice is obvious to many. By definition, the Current Conclusions of Science TM are correct, are they not? Tautologies are true everywhere.

GMOs aren't evil; GMOs are unlabelled in America. In dozens of other countries, GMOs are completely banned. But National Geographic and its American audience just know that there isn't a debate, because obviously GMOs aren't evil. Hip celebrity scientists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson tell us everything is OK while blurring the distinction between natural hybridization over centuries and transgenic GMOs over years. While GMOs are sold to us with the promise of supernutrition and feeding the world, the ones we get are modified to be pesticide resistant and are covered with toxic pesticides. Instead of transparency and accountability there is a rotating door between the companies making these GMOs and the government agencies regulating them, as the current deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA, Michael Taylor, was previously a VP of public policy at Monsanto. Meanwhile the companies themselves are the ones tasked with the testing to prove the safety of their products - inevitably they find their products to be safe.

Much of this data is hard to get and not available for public access. There are no epidemiological studies investigating potential health effects of GMO food on human health. International agreements show widespread recognition of risks posed by GMO foods and crops. There is no consensus on environmental impacts of GMOs. A recent statement in the journal Enviromental Sciences Europe concludes “…the totality of scientific research outcomes in the field of GM crop safety is nuanced; complex; often contradictory or inconclusive; confounded by researchers’ choices, assumptions, and funding sources; and, in general, has raised more questions than it has currently answered.” In short, the science isn't settled at all.

As anyone who has taken part in the vaccine discussion that has exploded on social media over the past month can tell you, it's not really about the science anymore. It's about choosing sides in The War on Science. Who can even tell what sides there are, on such a wide array of issues? With so many disparate hot button issues lumped together, each carefully chosen with a distracting straw-man to burn, National Geographic is here to tell you exactly what to think. With the modernization of the Smith-Mundt act of 2012, it really isn't even illegal for the US Government to knowingly lie to the public anymore. The companies that are selling you these products employ massive public relations divisions, and nowadays you can see the results of spending so much money on advertising when you turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper or magazine.

Thankfully this magazine is here to strong-arm us to the final topic, the most pressing of all, the real target: vaccines. The rhetoric and fear surrounding vaccines is rising; it seems if we don't make a decision soon we face unspeakable consequences. Step out of line, potentially support the wrong side, and experience vicious social ramifications, public shaming, and group shunning. What's the simple conflict here, and what is a non-expert to think? Here the stink of desperation oozes out of the propaganda. "Vaccinations can lead to autism": a milquetoast statement, a clear retreat from the more blunt and catchy "Vaccines cause autism". With such an obvious clue that things might be more complicated than all or nothing, let's take a moment to examine this from an alternative perspective.

The mainstream Current Conclusions of Science TM (in America, God Bless America) are that vaccines are both safe and effective. The gold standard for proving medical safety is to compare human populations with a control group over the long term. Out of the current US Vaccination schedule of 12 different vaccines (compared with just 3 in the 1980s), none of them have ever been tested against a saline control in a human population long term, either individually or as a group. If none of our drug testing included comparisons of populations given placebos, would you trust them? On the other side of the vaccine safety issue, the US Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that federal law prohibits parents from suing drug makers over serious side effects from childhood vaccines. The only way Americans have left to defend themselves, the lawsuit, cannot be used to seek compensation from vaccine injury, and yet they want us to know that vaccines are safe? They had to create a program to handle all the numerous reports of negative side effects of vaccines (VAERS - the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), and yet they want us arguing whether or not vaccines may lead to autism?

This is overt manipulation, and yet a review of history leaves us with the conclusion that it is effective manipulation. Populations have been whipped up with the fear of biological armageddon before, with dissidents fined and jailed for refusal of the current cure du jour. A new wave of people are publically arguing for forced mandatory vaccinations right now, because ultimately their fear trumps your liberties. The efficacy of vaccines has never actually been proven, neither has herd immunity ever been shown to exist. There are outbreaks among fully vaccinated populations. President Obama recently granted immunity to a CDC whistleblower to testify about the efficacy of vaccines to Congress. This is another clear example where the science is anything but settled, but our culture of choosing sides is moving towards a future where individuals no longer have any choice for themselves. There is a comments period open right now for the US Health and Human Services current draft proposal regarding more mandated employer-enforced vaccines for adults, at the same time that the US Government is involved with a lawsuit against Merck (the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine) about the false claims of efficacy of its vaccine.

Jenny McCarthy served as the sacrificial offering in the media, an open warning and example to anyone who would question the current narrative. The government has a monopoly on legal force, and a narrative is forming across the media that such force should be used to override our individual right to bodily integrity and self-determination. We are shown the social effects of questioning the narrative, and anyone that's even questioned the ever increasing vaccine schedule can tell you what those social effects feel like personally. There is a science, with a lowercase s, that is a method, an application, a process that is founded upon open questioning. And then there is a Science, with a capital a S, that is the Current Conclusions of Our National Experts TM, a dogma which does not allow any questioning or deviation from the herd.

We should always be questioning. The truth fears no investigation.
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bit

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #177 on: February 25, 2015, 06:51:34 PM »
(see attachment in previous post)
As the human species becomes more enlightened (assuming we don't annihilate ourselves first) I think there will have to come a time when there will be an admission that there are things we cannot know/learn by reflection, analysis or discovery. Though I'm sure the opinion I'm putting forth is in opposition to that of many site members, I believe there are absolute limits to human ability, and that there are phenomena in the universe that are not susceptible to scientific investigation, however advanced our tools become.


We all have faith...maybe not religious faith, but faith nonetheless.

A priest once explained it to me like this:

Faith is believing or trusting in something when you have no proof or when common sense tells you not to.

Then he went on to state that we all buy cans of soup on faith, that we trust that the label is truthful and purchase it without any proof beforehand that what is in the can is what it says on the label. You don't really know for sure what you are going to get. The label could be wrong. It could be a can of corn and not soup...or it could be a different kind of soup than what it says on the label. But you will continue to believe that it is soup in that can and trust in that label until you open it, get your proof and know for sure.

We have faith in the people we love, even when they do something wrong and common sense tells you not to. You are willing to forgive the mistakes of your children and trust again, even when there is no proof that they will not make a mistake again. We trust people that have never hurt us, even though we have been hurt by others. There is no proof that this new person in our lives will not hurt us. There is never any proof they won't...even after knowing them for 50 years and them never hurting us. They could still hurt us tomorrow. But we have faith that they won't. This is part of what makes a marriage work...faith in each other.

Religious people are like that. They have their beliefs that they accept on faith. They trust that they are the truth. It won't be until they get to open their can after their death that they will get their proof of whether there is a god inside, something else, or nothing at all. One way or another they will have their proof that what they have believed all their lives is true or not. And if it's not true, they will never know. Either way, it doesn't matter to them, just like it wouldn't matter to you if someone came along and told you that the soup you bought isn't soup, without any proof that it isn't soup. You'll be content to keep believing the label until you open it and see for yourself. And you'll go on having faith in the people you love.

I am not saying that I agree with the religious about what they believe, but I am willing to admit that I understand how faith works and why it is hard for them to believe otherwise. Nobody has given them a can opener yet, and until then, they don't have their proof and anyone that tells them otherwise without proof themselves is just as looney as you think they are for having the faith they have. And if you hand them anything other than the can opener they need, they will reject it as being the wrong tool for the job.

And if you can't understand what I am trying to say, then try applying the scientific method, with or without peer review, the next time you are shopping for canned goods, before you make your purchase. (I hope you don't starve)
^Very thought-provoking.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2015, 10:44:40 AM by bit »

Renegade

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #178 on: March 01, 2015, 06:14:06 PM »
More inconvenient tidbits of reality from Washington's Blog...

tl;dr - Half of peer-reviewed studies show concern for GMOs. The other half are funded by industry.

http://www.washingto...tists-concerned.html

Quote
Tufts University’s Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute (Timothy Wise) points out:


Quote
There is no … consensus on the safety of GM food. A peer-reviewed study of the research, from peer-reviewed journals, found that about half of the animal-feeding studies conducted in recent years found cause for concern. The other half didn’t, and as the researchers noted, “most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible of commercializing these GM plants.”

***

The only consensus that GM food is safe is among industry-funded researchers.

By way of background, genetically engineered foods have been linked to obesity, cancer, liver failure, infertility and all sorts of other diseases (brief, must-watch videos here and here).


One tidbit suggests that today in modern science, the most scientific thing one can do is to "follow the money":

Quote
Indeed – as Tufts’ Timothy Wise notes – huge sums of money are being poured into shutting down all honest scientific debate about the risks from GMOs:

A lot more at the link.

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IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process - High Dilution + Homeopathy
« Reply #179 on: April 26, 2015, 08:10:43 PM »
Just read in my feed-reader an article in Remedia that seems to be a highly informative piece of work, where the medical and scientific history of some intensively peer-reviewed and audited research is brought into the context of the present day, for further review/discussion. It is relevant today.
Posted as:
High Dilution, Homeopathy, and the Purpose of the Scientific Journal | REMEDIA
(Some clips extracted an copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
April 24, 2015
By Melinda Baldwin

On June 30, 1988, readers of the British scientific journal Nature opened their issues to find a lead editorial titled, “When to believe the unbelievable.” The editorial’s sub-headline was even more provocative: “An article in this week’s issue describes observations for which there is no present physical basis.”
  • *1 The article in question was “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE,” from a team led by the immunologist Jacques Benveniste at Paris’s Institut national de la santé et de la recherché médicale (INSERM) laboratory.
  • *2 And the story quickly became even stranger: a month later, Nature printed a report by a three-man investigative team—including editor John Maddox—that declared INSERM’s results a “delusion.”
So why would Nature print this piece if the editorial staff found its claims “unbelievable”—and perhaps more puzzling still, why would the editor of a scientific journal personally undertake a critical evaluation of results his journal had published? ...
...
(Read the rest at the link.)

An aspect of it that interests me is that it adds to my previous understanding that homeopathy had been thoroughly debunked in 1988 (following a government investigation into a 1986 Cell paper on the subject, co-authored by the Nobel Prize-winning immunologist David Baltimore).
One thing I could never understand was that, even after being exposed as a fraud, homeopathy continued for some years to be practiced as an apparently relatively respectable branch of pseudo-alternative medicine. (Still is practiced by "believers" in some benighted quarters.)
The Remedia article offers some explanation as to how that irrational situation could have come about. It seems to be about latent irrational/unscientific "belief" (and probably about whether one can make a buck at it).

Renegade

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #180 on: April 26, 2015, 09:50:43 PM »
^ I think one of the problems is that the word "homeopathy" is often used to refer to naturopathy as well, and creates confusion as to what homeopathy proper actually is. But, as for homeopathy proper, I have no clue what would make anyone cling to that belief - it just doesn't make any sense.
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IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #181 on: April 27, 2015, 01:51:56 AM »
If one had read the 1986 Cell paper (Baltimore), then one could have regarded homoeopathy as being scientifically founded - proven. With such proof, one would not have needed to "believe" in it.
However, if, after the debunking, one actually believed in it (absent the proof), then that would arguably be typical of a "religious" belief (irrational). Likewise, if, after the debunking, one still practiced homoeopathy, then that could be irrational too, but perhaps understandable if (say) practicing homoeopathy had been one's primary source of income and one could not afford to dump it, and so one cynically rode the bucking bronco. Arguably not much different to a soothsayer or snake-oil salesman, really.

The irrational twisting and turning of those who would persist in believing as true that which was clearly falsifiable or not able to be substantiated (not true). I find that twisting and turning, when their religio-political beliefs are challenged or threatened by reality, to be embarrassing and cringeworthy in the extreme - e.g., whether it's Climate Change™ (this thread), or religious faith (refer the Faith v. Science thread).
It seems to be classic Ahamkara, and we are all potentially susceptible to it.

The thing that puzzles me is - why do we have to make ourselves believe in A versus B in the first place, if A and B are things that we don't have any observable and conclusive evidence of that either of them is true, or more true than the other?
Instead of just preferring which one we would like to be true (like in the book "The Life of Pi"), why can't we just hold belief in abeyance? If one does that, then one can usually look at things with a more open mind and a much less cluttered paradigm.
Whereas Pi had a very good reason for believing in an imagined story rather than the brutal and agonising reality, most people don't usually have to believe in anything. Pi's irrational belief probably saved his sanity - it enabled him to escape reality yet still be able to function as part of this world - whereas we are not usually put in such a predicament.

So why do we seem to persist in living in an illusion - in Ahamkara?

Renegade

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #182 on: April 27, 2015, 09:09:36 AM »
^ You lost me.

Can you tl;dr what Ahamkara is? The page there just blathers on and makes it sound like nonsense. Does it just mean "delusion"?
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IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #183 on: April 27, 2015, 11:12:07 AM »
^ You lost me.
Can you tl;dr what Ahamkara is? The page there just blathers on and makes it sound like nonsense. Does it just mean "delusion"?

No, it doesn't "just mean 'delusion' ".
There's a definition in that knol. You do need to make the investment of time and cognitive surplus to read/understand what ahamkara is. I can't explain it any better than I do in that knol, which is already much condensed from the philosophy lecture notes and texts that I drew it from, with added examples.

It's actually a simple concept - a tool for understanding - but very profound and useful when one does understand it. I personally was slow to understand it. When the penny eventually dropped, it literally changed my life, my paradigms, and my way of thinking.
In a way, it's like learning TM - dead simple but it could take a while for one to get a grip on it.
Someone else on this forum got it in a flash - even thanked me for introducing them to it. We're each in a different state of receptivity to things like this. A Hindu friend of mine saw it pretty quickly too - he hadn't come across it before.
If you can't understand it or see what potential use it has, then maybe you are not "ready" for it yet. It's for "them as has eyes to see". I don't know. I'm no expert. I'm still learning.

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #184 on: April 27, 2015, 05:55:16 PM »
FWIW, here's some of what Wikipedia currently has to say about Ahamkara:

Quote
Ahaṃkāra (अहंकार) is a Sanskrit term that is related to the ego and egoism - that is, the identification or attachment of one's ego.

Quote
Vedic philosophy teaches that when one's mind is in a state of ahamkara, one is in a state of subjective illusion, where the mind has bound the concept of one's self with an external thing. That thing can be a tangible, material object, or it can be a concept (such as the concept of the fight for peace). The ego is involved in constructing the illusion.

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #185 on: April 27, 2015, 06:49:54 PM »
The thing that puzzles me is - why do we have to make ourselves believe in A versus B in the first place, if A and B are things that we don't have any observable and conclusive evidence of that either of them is true, or more true than the other?
Instead of just preferring which one we would like to be true (like in the book "The Life of Pi"), why can't we just hold belief in abeyance? If one does that, then one can usually look at things with a more open mind and a much less cluttered paradigm.
Whereas Pi had a very good reason for believing in an imagined story rather than the brutal and agonising reality, most people don't usually have to believe in anything. Pi's irrational belief probably saved his sanity - it enabled him to escape reality yet still be able to function as part of this world - whereas we are not usually put in such a predicament.

So why do we seem to persist in living in an illusion - in Ahamkara?

The simple answer is that our brains lie to us. Despite our significant neurological advantage in complexity and capability, at the end of the day, nearly every judgement we make about anything is guided by the same built in conditioning that caused Pavlov's dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. On one hand, it's an evolutionary advantage. It allows us to make the kind of snap decisions necessary for survival. On the other hand, it is (just as you suggest) the single biggest obstacle to intellectual honesty because it's inherently guided by emotion.

Ironically, even those of us who do tend more toward rationality and self examination are still being guided by emotion. Those thoughts, or, more importantly, the outcomes produced by that view of things, produces positive emotions.

Based on your brief explanation from that link, I'd say the concept of Ahamkara is a good demonstration of why science was treated as an offshoot of philosophy for so much of human history. The phenomenon it identifies are the focus of much neurological and anthropological research today.
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I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

ewemoa

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #186 on: April 27, 2015, 08:16:26 PM »
The simple answer is that our brains lie to us.

I like to think that there's no ill-will involved here...but wait a minute :P

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #187 on: April 27, 2015, 09:03:13 PM »
FWIW, here's some of what Wikipedia currently has to say about Ahamkara:
Quote
Ahaṃkāra (अहंकार) is a Sanskrit term that is related to the ego and egoism - that is, the identification or attachment of one's ego.
Quote
Vedic philosophy teaches that when one's mind is in a state of ahamkara, one is in a state of subjective illusion, where the mind has bound the concept of one's self with an external thing. That thing can be a tangible, material object, or it can be a concept (such as the concept of the fight for peace). The ego is involved in constructing the illusion.

Yes, thanks @ewemoa. I know about that Wikipedia entry as I wrote most of it.
The history is that the subject was originally transferred from the Glossary of terms in Hinduism in about 2006, and pretty much languished there until I took up developing it in 2007.
I also created several other Wikipedia entries and adopted several others as a main editor. However, I became frustrated by the cretinous drive-by graffiti/vandalism and ad-hoc editing by Wikipedia bots, "official" Wikipedia editors and other anonymous and named editors that occurred on a regular basis with the several entries I worked on. Some of the edits were OK, but most were deleterious - e.g., attempts to ameliorate the truth, or make things politically correct, or pushing a religio-political or other biased point of view. The official Wikipedia edits also seemed to become increasingly bureaucratic.

The Wikipedia model was useful, but clearly, because of its relative randomness and crowd-sourced nature, the quality of the content had a potential tendency to regress towards the mean (i.e., slip back into mediocrity). Since there was/is no editorial control over Wikipedia content quality/accuracy, it meant that the situation could not be improved without a meta-change in Wikipedia processes, and that's not likely to happen. It seems to have ossified.

Then Google started up the knol site in about 2009, and over 2009/2010 I abandoned "my" Wikipedia entries and migrated them all to Google knol. That was because I appreciated that knols presented an opportunity to take editorial control and to extend that control to a group of interested/qualified editors, thus avoiding the problems with Wikipedia described above.
Meanwhile, some people had appreciated the work I had been doing in Wikipedia and asked me to develop Wikipedia pages on other subjects they wanted to sponsor. They wanted stability, control and permanence for those articles - which categorically was not possible in Wikipedia.
I ended up creating knol pages for those subjects, as that seemed to offer the sponsors what they wanted, at the time.
 
I was very sad when Google knol was closed down, but backed all my knols up for posterity, and subsequently published them out of a Google Drive hosting platform (which is $free).
So the ahamkara page is the latest version of that knol, now hosted on Google drive, and it is much more well-developed than I had managed to achieve on the Wikipedia page. In fact, I could not have done that in Wikipedia as it has such an archaic and constipated editing process, and no certainty of permanence - though I did try for a while.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2015, 11:15:47 PM by IainB, Reason: Minor edits. »

ewemoa

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #188 on: April 27, 2015, 10:07:47 PM »
Nice!  Thanks for the details and follow-up.

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #189 on: April 27, 2015, 11:04:42 PM »
@Vurbal: What you say about your interpretation of ahamkara could well be true.

Ahamkara has three aspects that particularly impress me:
1. Its age: It comes from a 3,000 years old Vedic philosophy.
2. Its simplicity: Though it is simple, it is a sophisticated concept, developed as part of an artificial framework of reference - a system - which was used to help explain the functioning of the human mind as a spiritual metaphor, and in the context of the Vedic philosophy surrounding the idea of "being" (consciousness) - which they apparently perceived to exist in all things (animate and inanimate) to some extent, and equally - apparently - in no thing (where there is nothing tangible). So, for example, it would be in us and in the air about us.
3. Its adoption: The ahamkara concept was much later incorporated into hindu philosophy.

Forgive me, but I would take you to task on your response, in that it would seem to rather trivialise the achievement of that philosophy, so long ago. I have studied and been trained in the application of some aspects of our modern pseudo-science of psychology, and, though it can sometimes be extremely useful in aiding an understanding of human affairs, it would seem to be an infant by comparison to the Vedic philosophy. Psychology is wrapped in high-sounding terminology - mumbo-jumbo and psycho-babble - with only hypothesis and theory (no certain scientific substantiation) of the concepts developed/used. So, arguably we would seem to have not really come very far at all if we are only able to replicate more or less some of what the Vedic philosophers conceived of, but substituting different terminology and metaphors for theirs, and yet without actually advancing much on it, if at all...

But all this is a digression - off-topic- from the subject of the thread.
I had suggested that ahamkara is an appropriate term for the state of mind that people are in when they steadfastly cling to irrational ideas (beliefs). That is, regardless of system/terminology - "the mind had bound up the concept of one's self with a created thing", or "the identification or attachment of one's ego with a created thing".
Were you intending to argue against the validity of that suggestion, or was your contribution the translation of the concept into other terminology?

My question was: So why do we seem to persist in living in an illusion - in ahamkara?
To answer my own question to some extent: We do not willingly "persist" by choice, but are unwittingly obliged to live in this illusion, because of our mind's tendency for the identification or attachment of our egos with some created thing.

Why I consider the concept of ahamkara to be so profound is that, those in ahamkara are, by definition, unable to perceive the illusion they have created, but it need not be so. They are initially blindly held in its thrall, as it were. However, once they know of and understand and can internalise that knowledge/understanding of the concept of ahamkara, they then have a key with which to liberate themselves from such an illusion.
The question then is twofold: Now that they are able to become aware that it is a false illusion, will they:
(a) choose to continue in the status quo in ahamkara - but now aware that it is a false illusion, or
(b) choose to release themselves from the illusion and thus risk allowing themselves to change/grow/develop?

Well, of course, those who persist in believing in, or espousing, or practicing the false (QED) "alternative medicine" of homoeopathy arguably could be stuck in ahamkara.
It would be interesting to see whether they, or indeed any people who were thus enabled to become aware of when they were stuck in a false illusion (ahamkara) would choose (b).
As a rule:
Quote
"Given the choice between changing one's mind or proving one's point of view, most people will get busy on the proof" - J.K.Galbraith, economist.
__________________________________
- but that was before the key of knowledge of ahamkara and the (b) choice was available. 

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #190 on: June 01, 2015, 03:58:38 AM »
Highly amusing, deliberately bogus piece of dietary weight-loss research recently published:
I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
John Bohannon
Filed to: debunkery   
    diets
    chocolate
    pseudoscience
    biology
    health
    medicine
    editor's picks

5/27/15 1:23pm

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.

“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily,” page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”

I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website.

Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.

Here’s how we did it. ... (read the rest at the link).

ewemoa

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #191 on: June 01, 2015, 08:03:22 PM »
Nice find :)

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #192 on: July 02, 2015, 05:24:26 PM »
Relevant to this topic (trust me on this)

A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving Skills

http://nyti.ms/1JzqUrx

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #193 on: July 02, 2015, 07:54:57 PM »
Relevant to this topic (trust me on this)

A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem Solving Skills

http://nyti.ms/1JzqUrx

Yes.
:P

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process - It's true if WE say it is.
« Reply #194 on: July 09, 2015, 10:17:36 AM »
Fraud and cover-ups at the FDA?
http://www.slate.com...den_from.single.html
http://www.wired.com...ng-americans-health/
...
________________________________
I read something today that reminded me of what you posted there, so I went back and re-read your post and followed the links. Those points you referred to now look like particularly good points, in retrospect.
What I have realised is that it's not just the FDA, but also a system of other government-directed organisations that have been established as the authoritative sources of science on some aspect or other of controlling our lives - and this has implications that I probably had not fully appreciated before.
Putting those points in the context of this discussion thread, we have seen here several examples of "bad science" where research and the scientific method and the peer review process have in some way been abused/corrupted, apparently for the sake of one or a combination of financial gain (e.g., research funding, or business profit) or professional prestige, and there have been alarming - but amusing - demonstrations of how easy it can be to get ludicrously bogus research (e.g., the chocolate diet weight-loss research) published with the stamp of authority in prestigious so-called "scientific" journals, whose editors are seemingly bent on maximising readership (and revenue) rather than paying attention to establishing the veracity/validity and bona fides of the research itself.
These journals would seem to have a sort of "Never mind the thickness, feel the width." approach, where the line between fantastic, eye-grabbing journalism and bone fide research would seem to have been a pretty fine line, at times, and repeatedly crossed (QED).

There has subsequently been what looks like a belated but relatively thorough housekeeping and weeding-out of the discovered bogus/suspect research, with it being retrospectively and publicly withdrawn from publication in the journals by the publishers involved - all of which is well and good. However one hopes that the editorial staff of the publishers concerned acquire/regain their necessary healthy skepticism and don't fall asleep at the helm again. Time will tell though and I for one am not going to hold my breath, as experience indicates that unless a business process is radically changed and improved, then the quality of its outputs will have to by definition continue to be more or less of the same standard as before. (Deming et al).
That is, being "vigilant" isn't going to cut it, as that is not a process step.

Now suppose that some areas of scientific research:
  • (i) were declared to be officially the bailiwick of specific, authorised  organisations, and
  • (ii) research in those areas was conducted, peer reviewed, and published solely by/through/under the auspices of one and the same supposedly authoritative organisation, and
  • (iii) that that organisation was always a pseudo-government organisation, NALGO (Non-Aligned Government Organisation), QUANGO (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) or similar, having been set up as an organisation to which a government has devolved power at "arm's-length".

What sort of peer-reviewed research outputs could be expected to come from these pseudo-government organisations and what sort of outcomes could we expect from that research?

I'll attempt to answer that question, but first would suggest that we reflect on what US President Eisenhower said about government and science/research, and why:
Quote
"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

- from Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961.
______________________________

So, let's look at some examples where it seems that these supposedly public-serving organisations have in fact been serving political and/or corporate objectives and to the detriment of their public service:


1. The FDAs (Food & Drug Administrations): (add into here @Renegade's points on the FDA, above)
  • The US FDA: has apparently recently come out and retracted its longstanding sanctioning of all those manufactured and hyrdrogenated vegetable oils/fats that were supposedly such healthy alternatives to the deadly animal fats and dripping, or something. Most of those manufactured oils were apparently not what does a body good, after all. Oh, and by the way, contrary to what we said, animal fats and dripping are also really good for you! What a surprise! (NOT).
    Outcome: A huge and unknowable loss in human health/life and medicare costs for the general public in many countries where the FDA advice to ingest the toxic fats rather than the safer and non-toxic fats was adhered to. A huge win for the corporates and medical insurers. The manufactured vegetable and other oils scam effectively created an enormous worldwide market that must have netted the manufacturers billion in profits, over the years. Presumably a new scam/market will be required now.

  • The NZ FDA #1: From memory, so the details may be a bit sketchy, I recall reading some old copies of The Spectator from the '80s/'90s that showed investigative reporting that the NZ FDA had apparently succumbed to corporate pressure and allowed the label "Just Juice" to misleadingly market a heavily-sweetened juice as consisting of pure juice, or something. Though their juices contained no added sugar per se, the NZ manufacturer apparently had a surplus of apples and was able to manufacture sugar out of apples, producing an odourless, tasteless and colourless solution of high-concentration fructose (sugar), and at less or equivalent cost to buying raw sugar. They apparently wanted to mix this into their juices and label it as "with apple base" and imply or state that it was unsweetened or contained no added sugar (i.e., implying it was a "pure" juice). The product still seems to be available in supermarkets today, still with its misleading labelling re the undisclosed fructose additive. Just juice it ain't.
    Outcome: A financial win for the corporate, and a loss to the public. The FDA effectively sanctioned the hoodwinking of the consumers, denying them the right to have true and honest labelling, so they ended up buying the stuff thinking it to be a healthy and pure juice, not realising that it was unnaturally loaded with fructose.

  • The NZ FDA #2: Again, from memory, so the details may be a bit sketchy, I recall reading some old copies of The Spectator from the '80s/'90s that showed that the NZ FDA had apparently succumbed to corporate pressure and allowed Kelloggs to market their manufactured Cornflakes product as being "nutritious", though a nutritionist might be quick to point out that there is little or no nutritional value in cornflakes. They apparently claimed that by spraying-on riboflavin and iron additives, or something, the product had nutritional value. They apparently gave the NZ FDA an ultimatum - either we are allowed to label it as we want on product produced in NZ, or we take our cornflake production plant to Australia and import it from there, or something. Kelloggs Cornflakes are still sold in NZ, though I am unsure whether they are still manufactured in NZ.
    Outcome: A financial win for the corporate, and a loss to the public. The FDA effectively sanctioned the hoodwinking of the consumers, denying them the right to have true and honest labelling, so they ended up buying the cornflakes thinking it to be a naturally nutritive product. (I don't think this would pass muster in the EU though, so it may be a reflection of the immature or "Wild West" nature of consumer rights and protection standards/laws in NZ/Australasia.)

  • NZ FDA side note: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the then director of the NZ FDA - Dick Hubbard - (who I think may have also been a food nutritionist) must have recognised that the NZ FDA was unable to operate independently, because he later resigned and in 1990 founded (together with his wife Diana) the company "Hubbards" with the objectives: 1. Make Good Food, and 2. Make A Difference. Hubbards' breakfast cereals and other cereal products are the yummiest I have ever tasted and all are nutritious, and they definitely raised the bar for other cereal manufacturers. He doesn't make any cornflakes. He's a millionaire now, and he continues to make a difference.
    Outcome: A big win all round, and some superb and nourishing cereal foods for the consumer, as well as some major benefits for the many disadvantaged people Hubbard targeted for employment in his food-making factories.
    ______________________________

2. "Climate" bodies - IPCC (UN), EPA (US), DECC (UK):
The analysis of leaked emails and documents from Climategate (File: FOIA2009.zip) was important for several reasons, including:
  • (a) It was a timely wake-up call, indicating to the sleeping masses (myself included) that there was something decidedly rotten in the state of Denmark.
  • (b) It enabled anyone who wished to analyse and seek the truth and "Find out for yourself" ("Nullius in verba" per the founding motto of the now apparently somewhat discredited Royal Society).
  • (c) It enabled the analyst to discover - warts an' all - emails illustrating the extent to which scientivists were apparently engaged in deliberate stochastic lying and obfuscation in the scientific research and peer review process on the subject of MMGW (Man-Made Global Warming, now re-badged as "Climate Change™").

It subsequently became apparent that the motivation for this seeming perversion of science and statistics could be in the desire to push potentially world-changing religio-political ideologies and possibly also the desire to secure further abundant scientific research funding, and the huge profits from the government-subsidised sale of environmentally destructive and capital and land-intensive wind farm and solar cell engineering projects, all driven mostly by the founding Charter of the IPCC, which was based in large part on the de facto assumption of the thesis of MMGW.
For example, the subject was referred to as "The Cause" in correspondence between scientivists at the IPCC, Penn StateU and the UEA CRU.
As if to prove the point, I today came across what would seem to be proof of more of the same, apparently from a Swiss government minister and intended to dupe the Swiss voters: Former Swiss Minister: Okay To Lie About Climate “If It Is For The Good”… | NoTricksZone
Outcome: A political push based on an apparently so far unsubstantiated need (C02 reduction and MMGW), towards a new global taxation and transfer-pricing regime (carbon credits), with sovereignty and economic and political power being transferred to a global unelected government and monstrous bureaucracy. Chalk up a big financial win for corporations profiting from selling the new "sustainable" energy-generation systems, and for corporate sponges, unelected representatives, bureaucratic process and hordes of overpaid "charity" and policy wonks, and a huge financial loss for the taxpaying public who have funded this. A huge, elaborate and expensive charade (for the taxpayer) spanning years, with no real foreseeable benefit so far and electricity being produced by so-called "sustainable" means - e.g., wind farms and solar cell collector systems - at a cost which is apparently "Astronomical" (per Bill Gates recently), and which could never meet the existing electricity/energy demand projections, nor feasibly or cost-effectively replace the cheaper and/or longer-lived fossil-fuelled power sources, nor the hydro-electric or nuclear power sources.


3. The CDCs (Centers for Disease Control):
Now this is the thing that got me to thinking today about the abuse of science and peer review in public services for ulterior motives: Quietly, Congress extends a ban on CDC research on gun violence.
Reading the background, the proposal to do this research would seem to have been politically motivated when it was proposed before, and now, and the decision to shut it down before, and now, would also seem to have been politically motivated.
Outcome: A great big red flashing warning light.
I found the whole thing laughable, but at the same time I thought it rather frightening - the evidence of a political fight over a seemingly remorseless desire for political control, being exercised through the mechanism of the US CDC, a pseudo-government agency providing a valuable public service. This giant nation seems to be at war against itself and its Constitution, and almost everybody else, and on so many fronts.

The US CDC was presumably set up with the same objectives as CDCs in other countries - that is, to conduct studies of disease/sickness and to conduct epidemiological studies, in order to better protect public health. Thus, by no stretch of the imagination could a gun fit the definition of a disease/sickness. If guns were a suitable subject for study by the CDC, then before long there could be a study of automobiles (to reduce death from automobile accidents or to stop them being used in the act of committing crimes), and then there'd be a study of knives, and then psychological studies of (say) religious fanaticism (to reduce death by murderous religious fanatics), and pretty soon it could be thought crimes and the objective would be to stop people from thinking thoughts that were deemed politically incorrect or put them in gulags, etc. We wouldn't even need to think of a plan for this, as we could take the lessons straight from the communist manifesto. A slippery slope indeed.
______________________________

So the National Geographic is arguably spot-on where it has that moronic propaganda on the front page about "The War Against Science", except that it's the government agencies that could seem to be engaged in a war against the citizens, where Science is the main weapon, and the scientific method and the peer review process are merely tools used in achieving the objective of beating everyone into submission to the conventional elite/political wisdom. This is what Eisenhower was warning about in his prescient farewell speech. It is hostile political force, and some people (not me, you understand) might say that the US would seem to be a prime offender at it, actively pushing some other countries to go in the same direction as well, through the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO and other international agencies and trade agreements, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Those same people might go on to say that, looking at all this from a global perspective, it doesn't seem to make too much difference whether one submits to (say) the domination of the hegemonic religio-political ideology of Islam and joins ISIS, or submits to the secular US hegemonic religio-political ideology of political and economic domination, because the choice is arguably pretty much the same - submit or die, and either way you absolutely lose your freedom - but again, I couldn't possibly comment.

Mind you, as my adoptive brother Khaled (a Muslim) would point out, if one had to make the choice between those two systems of religio-political ideology, then one could perhaps be forgiven for being inclined to choose Islam, because Islam categorically has Allah on its side and at least Islam fiercely protects its own and does not subject them to slavery.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 11:50:01 AM by IainB, Reason: Minor edits to improve clarity. »

CWuestefeld

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #195 on: July 09, 2015, 01:46:07 PM »
Bravo to IainB for the above discussion. I'd like to extend it a bit farther, if I might.

Some factions in our culture take the position that scientific results should directly drive public policy. So, for example, a finding that income inequality has increased, or that obesity is a health threat, should automatically lead us to institute policy to combat that problem.

But this belief is mistaken. Identifying a problem, or finding a correlation, is science. Determining whether something ought to be done, and indeed, whether that action should be executed by the government, is another question entirely, and one that cannot be answered by that same science. Before we can make that determination, we need to consider (I don't mean to argue on either side of these issues, I just mean to show that there are questions that must be answered before action is appropriate):
  • Is it actually a problem that society as a whole should have any say in? This generally is determined by personal values, and so reasonable people are likely to have different opinions. For example, given that obesity threatens my health, is it not my personal decision whether I prefer to have a shorter life of gustatory pleasure, or a longer ascetic life? Thus, the scientific outcome doesn't automatically mean that something *must* be done.
  • Would the costs of doing something exceed the costs of the problem itself? In the climate change debate, for example, we hear a lot of bickering about the evidence. But I don't see so much cost/benefit discussion about the likelihood of various outcomes, and the actual human cost of each, especially discussions that directly compare the cost of implementing greenhouse gas reductions.
  • Is the government the right agent to affect the change? Forcing everyone to act a certain way is a very blunt tool to use, and thus possibly ineffective. Even when the government can do something, it may be that the best approach is just to set up an appropriate system of incentives so that the private sector can work out the details.

Thus, a statement of the form "scientific studies show X, therefore the government must implement regulation Y" are flawed.

And I'd like to take that a step farther, too. In political discussions we frequently hear things like "candidate X isn't intelligent enough to be President", or even outright name-calling intended to disparage a candidate's intelligence (e.g., "dumbya"). I submit that science is the job of the scientists, and not the job of the President. There's no need for the President to understand biochemistry or chaos theory or orbital mechanics; as the country's Chief Executive, the holder of that office needs to be able to execute, and that involves being a good manager: knowing how to find the best people to handle an issue, and delegating to them. Beyond a basic threshold, raw IQ points aren't what we need in our Chief Exec, we need a specific management skillset, one that has nothing to do with the sciences.

Renegade

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #196 on: July 10, 2015, 09:56:31 AM »
@IainB - Regarding this post:

What I have realised is that it's not just the FDA, but also a system of other government-directed organisations that have been established as the authoritative sources of science on some aspect or other of controlling our lives - and this has implications that I probably had not fully appreciated before.

Very well organised and articulated for the whole post.

To dive down the rabbit hole just a bit further... Many of the implications have already been made explicitly clear by many different voices among the world's elite. Here's one:

Source: https://archive.org/...dfy-z5FBdAnrFME2m1U4

Quote

Another threat, less overt but no less basic, confronts liberal democracy. More directly linked to the impact of technology, it involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control. Under such circumstances, the scientific and technological momentum of the country would not be reversed but would actually feed on the situation it exploits.

i.e. The technetronic era is one of a scientific, totalitarian dictatorship.

Also:

Quote
Unlike the industrial age, when complexity and historical discontinuity induced ideological flights of the mind into atavism or futuristic Utopias, in the technetronic age the greater availability of means permits the definition of more attainable ends, thus making for a less doctrinaire and a more effective relationship between "what is" and "what ought to be."

In there we can see a clear leading towards a blatant logical fallacy and logical impossibility being pushed - is vs. ought.

If anyone thought that the dystopian nightmare of "Brave New World" was simply a novel... I would urge them to look around. If you are in the US, the next time you're watching TV, count how many ads there are for pharmaceuticals. Then read this:

Quote
The transformation that is now taking place, especially in America, is already creating a society increasingly unlike its industrial predecessor. 1 The post-industrial society is becoming a "technetronic" society: a society that is shaped culturally, psychologically, socially, and economically by the impact of technology and electronics — particularly in the area of computers and communications. The industrial process is no longer the principal determinant of social change, altering the mores, the social structure, and the values of society. In the industrial society technical knowledge was applied primarily to one specific end: the acceleration and improvement of production techniques. Social consequences were a later by-product of this paramount concern. In the technetronic society scientific and technical knowledge, in addition to enhancing production capabilities, quickly spills over to affect almost all aspects of life directly. Accordingly, both the growing capacity for the instant calculation of the most complex interactions and the increasing availability of biochemical means of human control augment the potential scope of consciously chosen direction, and thereby also the pressures to direct, to choose, and to change.

What are universities for?

Quote
In the technetronic society the university becomes an intensely involved "think tank," the source of much sustained political planning and social innovation.

Political planning is education? Whoops. I guess I didn't properly understand what higher "education" was for. ;)

Regarding the "technetronic society", another unarguably brilliant thinker penned a piece that I believe most people here have heard of, though it is doubtful that many have read it. Its original title is "INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY AND ITS FUTURE", though few probably know it by that. Here's a link for it:

http://www.washingto...r/manifesto.text.htm

In it the author walks through many of the same kinds of concerns as Zbigniew Brzezinski outlines in "BETWEEN TWO AGES - America's Role in the Technetronic Era".

It is well worth the read.



Back on topic...

The sorts of concerns expressed regarding peer review and the scientific process can be seen in existing literature, although they are often less direct.

Different policy papers from ostensibly "non-government" organisations are readily available, but they exist in such volume that it is near impossible for mere mortals to plow through. Still, the dangers posed have been articulated and are available. An excellent example is "Agenda 21" published by the UN. It's a sprawling monstrosity with its roots in the UN, but much of the implementation is outside of the auspices of the UN. Again, it uses the typical kinds of pseudo-scientific babble we commonly see to mask religio-political agendas.

It is difficult to face the literature and then look at the world and try to claim that what we see is accidental. There are mountains of evidence screaming that it is by design. The failures of the FDA (and other organisations) are not "failures" -- they are intentional and deliberate. Why would you want a "health care" industry when healthy people don't make money for you? No... we have a "sickness monitoring" industry where a toxic food supply feeds sicknesses in the population for a large pharmaceutical industry to sell drugs that alleviate symptoms, but never cure.

The cure for cancer? That's a complete and total hoax. There is no research for a "cure for cancer". There *is* research for a "patent" though.

When you set up perverse incentives, you get perverse results.

I'm starting to blather. :P


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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #197 on: August 20, 2015, 05:53:42 AM »
Looks like the clean-up of false, published "science" is still underway: Peer review is broken – Springer announces 64 papers retracted due to fake reviews | Watts Up With That?

I'm impressed.    :Thmbsup:

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #198 on: September 07, 2015, 08:49:46 AM »
Some time back, in the interests of promoting truth and independent critical thinking in this thread, I put quite a bit of effort into correcting some logical fallacies and uncritical thinking that appeared in comments arguing against the truth of a presentation that had been made to a US senate scientific committee - the reality being that the presenter (a scientist) had been called to make the presentation and had essentially put forward a summary of what was all solid, properly peer-reviewed and repeatable research that was not (and had not been) refuted and which thus stood on its own two feet, as it were. It was a good example of how to objectively communicate repeatable peer-reviewed research.

At the time, the problem seemed to be that the somewhat absurd comments in question were apparently (and admittedly) made from a position of relative ignorance. There's nothing wrong with being ignorant - we all are (it's the human condition) - but it is up to us to choose not to remain ignorant where a knowledge gap has been identified.
I used to teach as a lecturer, but the audience usually consisted of maths and computer science graduates and post-graduates who were expected to work on - and who were used to - filling-in the knowledge gaps for themselves when they were required to reduce their relative ignorance on a particular subject. So it wasn't as though one had to spoon-feed them or anything.

However, I was still left with the puzzle as to how one could could explain in simple terms, to someone who was ignorant of the pertinent facts, what the overall background to the apparent MMGW (Man-Made Global Warming, aka Climate Change™) fallacy was, and how it seemed to arise from a necessary dichotomy between the historic political drivers and the current science involved, and how one could verify these matters for oneself.

Well, I didn't have an easy answer, but the puzzle resurfaced anew as my 13½ y/o daughter started to study science and is interested in the environment and how it could potentially be affected by any climate changes.
So, I started to hunt around for readily available and substantiated background information that would enable her to "find out for herself". (I do not tell her what to think, but encourage her to think critically for herself and to always question the truth of things.)
Through most of my adult life to date, and more so latterly since I perceived the principle in operation, it has been a serendipitous case of:
Quote
"Ask, and it will be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it will be opened unto you."
 - New Testament, Matthew 7:7
____________________

So I am posting in this thread the links to two potentially very useful posts in the DCF Basement on the matter, for those who - like me - might be interested in closing some of their knowledge gaps in this area:

I found them both illuminating.
I hope this helps, or is of use.

IainB

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Re: Peer Review and the Scientific Process
« Reply #199 on: October 03, 2015, 02:34:15 AM »
I'm not sure whether it was intended as a joke, but I found this news item hugely entertaining: Fusion reactors ‘economically viable’ say experts
Apparently "scientists":
Quote
...at Durham University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, have re-examined the economics of fusion, taking account of recent advances in superconductor technology for the first time. Their analysis of building, running and decommissioning a fusion power station shows the financial feasibility of fusion energy in comparison to traditional fission nuclear power.
___________________

I idly wondered whether this announcement could have come from bona fide research that had all been properly peer reviewed. I suspect it could not.
What amused me was the apparent side-stepping of what must surely be an inconvenient truth - that fusion energy is an infeasible hypothesis (or, generously, at best, theory) - i.e., no-one seems to have actually demonstrated experimentally that it can be done. To paraphrase Feynman: "Observation trumps theory."
Notwithstanding, the eager "scientists" have apparently "re-examined the economics" of this myth infeasible hypothesis, and to top it off they will next year report on research into the principles of physics behind the operation of the looking glass in "Alice Through the Looking Glass".

Admittedly, as one commenter pointed out regarding the fusion "research", the researchers did note that they had to make "assumptions". Quite a few, I would expect.
As a science-fiction addict, I reckon it's a great study, but for scientific purposes it would seem to be meaningless as it is a study of something that does not actually exist. (though we might wish it did).

I'm not sure whether Durham University still have a chair in Alchemy - I mean, why not? After all, Newton was apparently a self-declared alchemist, or something.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 02:40:41 AM by IainB »