Credibility of Scientific Papers.
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  1. #1
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    Default Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Over the last year or two I've noticed that some people on this forum have a view of scientists and scientific papers which borders almost on reverence - and so I thought it important that someone should mention the 'other side of the coin', so to speak.

    One of the key features of the Scientific Method is the concept of 'Reproducible Results': that anyone who performs the same experiment, or conducts the same observational study should expect to see the same, or very similar results.

    Two days ago, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist retracted her own paper due to a lack of 'Reproducible Results' (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50989423), and is - quite rightly - being applauded for doing so. There was a reference in that article to the journal Nature expressing a concern over the steep rise in retracted peer-reviewed articles. From the 1990's onwards there have been a growing number each year, with 2019 seeing over 1400 retractions.

    Many of these retractions result from honest mistakes, but some are due to outright fraud. When scientific prestige and promotion are allied to publication and theories such fraudulent conduct is understandable, and perhaps inevitable. There was even one case of a Chinese Professor who gave a lecture on the need for integrity within science, who was later found to have fabricated data to support his own theory.

    For news of a newly-created database of retracted papers: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018...-death-penalty

    I'm not suggesting that fraud or sloppy science necessarily applies to any known bee-related research - but it's always a possibility to be taken into account if that work has not been independently reproduced by others.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    I have noticed over many years that many people have shown an inclination to spurn information that identifies with the scientific method. This disdain often seems to morph into a generalized anti-intellectualism and openess to conspiracy theories.

    I would like to see much harsher treatment of the obvious abuses that LJ points out. They do exist and they spread disillusionment out of all proportion to their actual percentage compared to the overall scientific input: For their own credibility the scientific body should police themselves tightly.

    The mass media certainly should too since they have acquired the power to be more deceptive than informative. There is nothing like a juicy lie to sell copy.
    I would like to see the data on what is the percentage of peer reviewed scientific literature that is either questionably truthful or slanted by agenda. We are overwhelmed by information overload: How do we truth test it; or do we just ignore it all as 'orth thit!
    Frank

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Interesting. One of the problems I have is that these “studies” are usually legit to the degree that the public needs to understand that they are quite often funded by a group looking for a particular result and run by a scientist quite interested in the accompanying publicity that comes with his “discovery”. The phrase “publish or parish” may well accurately describe the pressure a researcher may be feeling. Amazingly they always seem to find the result they are looking for but one always needs to look carefully at the numbers to determine how significant the conclusion really is and are all variables truly factored in? I guess I’ve gotten so jaded by this whole process that when I read the headline trumpeting the results of “a new study” I either ignore it or read it with a great deal of suspicion.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    I would say in beekeeping the far more serious problem is the hucksters that sell completly undocumented claims, such as, "I changed to small cell and my mites ceased to be a concern".

    No actual data to support these claims have ever been presented. The hucksters evade and procrastinate when confronted with a demand to back up their nostrums.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    when I read the headline trumpeting the results of “a new study” I either ignore it or read it with a great deal of suspicion.
    How long before a large percentage of the population does not even know the origin of " headline".
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Follow the trends, not a single paper or study, and pay attention to the number of replicates by the researcher and more importantly others.
    the OAG shop towels are a great example.
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    If it is bee related and has some indication of substance I watch its discussion on that other bee forum that seems to expect a bit higher level of support for a position. They do a fair job of blowing off most of the chaff for me!

    In many cases an article can be statistically correct under specific conditions but it is spun to create an impression that is far from representative of would be real life experience. The special conditions or lack of controls are often conveniently not mentioned. If the article does not include method controls and expects acceptance at face value, I immediately figure it is intended for the feather brained.
    Frank

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Experiments can be reproduced, methods and conclusions argued, agreed upon or disproven thus providing an excellent filter. A tough issue to be sure when someone really believes in something but is wrong for various reasons. One has to start somewhere or reinvent everything.

    Control is making a problem "go away, return and go away", black and white. Biology, with so many independent variables repeatability and control issues makes it really difficult. Is "statistically significant" really "significant" or can it be used to influence results and sell an idea?

    What I have noticed is the "hard path" is often avoided and the "easy way" glorified, in pure science, applied engineering and beekeeping. When the easy way fails, the promoters seem to disappear when the hard work needs to be done. It is very seductive to be well received, unrewarding to be the contrarian.

    Not sure I make sense but tried.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ...but some are due to outright fraud.LJ
    Perhaps one of the best examples is the reported but non-existent link between autism and vaccinations. Look where that has put us.


    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ... anyone who performs the same experiment, or conducts the same observational study should expect to see the same, or very similar results. LJ
    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    ...In many cases an article can be statistically correct under specific conditions
    This to me is one of the reasons beekeeping and bee research is so interesting! Even my limited bee-wrangling experience provides insight as to how difficult it is to manage a control group in bee experiments, and how many variables need to be considered/addressed.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beepah View Post
    Perhaps one of the best examples is the reported but non-existent link between autism and vaccinations. Look where that has put us.

    This to me is one of the reasons beekeeping and bee research is so interesting! Even my limited bee-wrangling experience provides insight as to how difficult it is to manage a control group in bee experiments, and how many variables need to be considered/addressed.
    Yes very difficult to encompass all the variables but if even a quick lookover shows obvious lack of even attempting it, should make a person question their objectivity and confirmation bias. Often there is at least the appearance of emotional or monetary investment skewing the conclusions. When I see a piece is full of emotional grabs and analogies my antenna starts to quiver.

    Look at all the skill that went into the sales pitch for the flow hive concept. That was not science at work!
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    I’ve been thinking on this also; being beekeepers some of us want to sell everything from the hive, including “bee pollen” and making propolis tinctures, and selling royal jelly. The science available for the aforementioned list is for the benefit of honey bees. But is there any science on how beneficial it would be to human beings? All we have is our own experience, or those experiences of others, to go on. Is there any papers or science behind these claims that I can pass on to customers who ask about these products? I’m not trying to judge anyone who does sell these products.
    Proverbs 16:24

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    I’ve been thinking on this also; being beekeepers some of us want to sell everything from the hive, including “bee pollen” and making propolis tinctures, and selling royal jelly. The science available for the aforementioned list is for the benefit of honey bees. But is there any science on how beneficial it would be to human beings? All we have is our own experience, or those experiences of others, to go on. Is there any papers or science behind these claims that I can pass on to customers who ask about these products? I’m not trying to judge anyone who does sell these products.
    I think honey is the only thing that has been thoroughly researched to provide some medical benefits. My wife was taking a bunch of tests on line to get her Medical Assistance certificate from the American Medical Assistance Association and one module was designated entirely to the benefits of honey. We were like wow, what people say about honey is not old wive tales, there are scientific proofs.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    50 % of all scientific studies are proofed wrong in the future. That's much better than the usual gossip though.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    I’ve been thinking on this also; being beekeepers some of us want to sell everything from the hive, including “bee pollen” and making propolis tinctures, and selling royal jelly. The science available for the aforementioned list is for the benefit of honey bees. But is there any science on how beneficial it would be to human beings? All we have is our own experience, or those experiences of others, to go on. Is there any papers or science behind these claims that I can pass on to customers who ask about these products? I’m not trying to judge anyone who does sell these products.
    In the cases of bee products consistency and repeatability is impossible.
    With this in mind, consistency and repeatability of the results is impossible.
    With this in mind, consistency and repeatability of the conclusions is impossible.

    This being said, how did the "scientists" ever get consistent "scientific" conclusions about even the honey (since there is not standard, consistent, repeatable honey in the nature)?

    I don't care though.
    Conventional scientific methods will never be able to explain everything anytime soon.
    I just made my first batch of propolis tincture for personal use and mean to use it.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    how did the "scientists" ever get consistent "scientific" conclusions about even the honey
    By using the brain.

    It is astonishing what proper science can unveil. The only sad thing is, that there is no interface that translates the results into practice. So most of the knowledge is lost in thick books.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    I’d be interested to hear about how this works for you. Maybe the Forum could have a new topic concerning propolis to hear how it works for those using it. I’m at the point that I’d try it too.
    Proverbs 16:24

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    I’d be interested to hear about how this works for you. Maybe the Forum could have a new topic concerning propolis to hear how it works for those using it. I’m at the point that I’d try it too.
    Deb, with Ruth swearing by it, I am planning to put propolis screens on two of my hives. If there is any arthritic benefit at all, I am game. The hip hurts so bad at the end of the day I can hardly stand upright. If the bees can help, I'll let them. Being caucasians, I expect they will have the first screen ready for me up in no time.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    I thought this had all been resolved with the advent of youtube. There’s no longer any need for conventional science when one can find a youtube source that will ‘prove’ anything you choose to believe. And the best part…..no need for basic literacy!
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    I thought this had all been resolved with the advent of youtube. There’s no longer any need for conventional science when one can find a youtube source that will ‘prove’ anything you choose to believe. And the best part…..no need for basic literacy!
    If you are savvy with the use of tags and conditions, you can do searches that only return the conclusion you are looking for. It looks impressive in a discussion to trot out what looks like overwhelming support for your position.

    And "science" gets a black eye for it!
    Frank

  21. #20

    Default Re: Credibility of Scientific Papers.

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    you can do searches that only return the conclusion you are looking for. It looks impressive in a discussion to trot out what looks like overwhelming support for your position.
    Totally awesome, isn’t it?! Who needs peer review? Formal materials and methods? Controls?
    One has to wonder how ‘science’ ever progressed without the internet and youtube.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

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