Methodology

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Methodology

Bad cites. Bad science?

Do scientists see themselves, like Isaac Newton, building new knowledge by standing on the shoulders of giants? Or are they most interested in securing their own position in the scientific conversation by stepping on the feet, backs, and heads of other scientists in their community? Indeed, are some of them willfully ignorant about the extent…

Back in November, at the Philosophy of Science Association meeting in Pittsburgh, I heard a really interesting talk by Jeremy Howick of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University about the challenges of double-blind trials in medical research. I’m not going to reconstruct his talk here (since it’s his research, not mine), but I…

Over at Effect Measure, Revere takes issue with a science educator’s hand-wringing over what science students (and scientists) don’t know. In a piece at The Scientist, James Williams (the science educator in question) writes: Graduates, from a range of science disciplines and from a variety of universities in Britain and around the world, have a…

Paul A. Offit, M.D., Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. Columbia University Press, 2008. Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure examines the ways that uncertainties about autism’s causes have played out in the spheres of medical treatment, liability lawsuits, political hearings,…

Back in June, I wrote a post examining the Hellinga retractions. That post, which drew upon the Chemical & Engineering News article by Celia Henry Arnaud (May 5, 2008) [1], focused on the ways scientists engage with each other’s work in the published literature, and how they engage with each other more directly in trying…

There’s a neat article [1] in the September-October 2008 issue of American Scientist (although sadly, this particular article seems not to be online) in which Brian Hayes discusses the Monty Hall problem and people’s strong resistance to the official solution to it. Now, folks like Jason have discussed the actual puzzle about probabilities in great…

Objectivity and other people.

As a follow-up to my last post, it looks like I should offer a more detailed explanation of why exactly scientific activity is a group activity — not simply as a matter of convenience, but as a matter of necessity. Helen E. Longino has already made this case very persuasively in her book Science as…

Peer review and science.

Chad Orzel takes a commenter to task for fetishizing peer review: Saying that only peer-reviewed articles (or peer-reviewable articles) count as science only reinforces the already pervasive notion that science is something beyond the reach of “normal” people. In essence, it’s saying that only scientists can do science, and that science is the exclusive province…

Seeing is believing.

Blogging has been a bit light lately, in part because I was persuaded to teach half of a graduate seminar during the summer session. The first half of the seminar looked at philosophical approaches to epistemology (basically, a set of issues around what counts as knowledge and what could count as reasonable ways to build…

Because Abi asked me to, I’m going to discuss the fascinating case of the Hellinga retractions. Since this is another case where there is a lot to talk about, I’m going to take it in two parts. In the first part, working from the Chemical & Engineering News article by Celia Henry Arnaud (May 5,…