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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Context of Our Cult



Imagine you are doing a crossword puzzle. The only way to finish the puzzle is to be honest. Often times that one correct letter along with the clue pair up for an instant visualization of the missing word. Without the correct letter nothing clicks. Likewise, the wrong letter might block an otherwise easy word. To purposely fill in a word, knowing you are probably wrong, does not make sense.

Most of us think of science and math as very complicated information that only a handful of humans will ever be able to grasp. What if we looked at science as merely an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge to help us understand the truth about our world. No matter what we are doing, we have to focus on getting it right. If we can do this we will have that clue that just might get us over the hump later on down the road. It will be that extra letter that combines with the crossword clue that makes the answer come to us. It will work like an enzyme, catalyzing our thought process.

When Dr. Iaonnidis published "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" he was addressing the most serious issue facing modern science. The amount of bullshit in the journals has created a crossword puzzle with all of the letters filled in and they are 90% wrong. We might as well erase the letters and start anew. Unlike other ventures, science cannot function in this environment. There is no context for deviating from the truth in science. It is why we succeed.

4 comments:

George Morris said...

You are right about the 90% wrong.

Science has forgotten that 90% of our health is based on nutrition. I question how necessary vaccines are in preventing disease. How many populations are subject to the same disease vectors and do not have epidemic disease. Is it that those people have better nutrition? When we ignore the impact of preventable disease and continue to waste resources on supporting drug treatment, how can we expect our system of profiting off disease to ever reduce overall disease burden.

Anonymous said...

hey ... just thought i'd say great blog. been a jaded molecular biology post doc for years and been thinking just what you've been ... great to see these thoughts put out there. you are spot on in my experience ...

Toby said...

I like the analogy between crossword solving and research. I want ti use it to illustrate that activity that people call the "scientific method" ti high school students. It could be easily upgraded for, say, graduate students by using a cryptic crossword (The Guardian type) analogy.

How do I quote you?

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