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What You Need to Remember About Science
8th November 2011, 17:19
Post: #1
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What You Need to Remember About Science

Ben Goldacre wrote up a little blurb starting with this:

Quote:I've got to go and finish a book: I'll be back in six months, but in case it kills me, here's what I've learned in eight years of writing this column.

The whole thing is good, but I wanted to pull out the three paragraphs that mean the most to me - why I don't get bored hearing skeptics and scientists go over the same material again and again for newcomers and as refreshers:

Quote:Real scientists can behave as badly as anyone else. Science isn't about authority, or white coats, it's about following a method. That method is built on core principles: precision and transparency; being clear about your methods; being honest about your results; and drawing a clear line between the results, on the one hand, and your judgment calls about how those results support a hypothesis. Anyone blurring these lines is iffy.


Last, nerds are more powerful than we know. Changing mainstream media will be hard, but you can help create parallel options. More academics should blog, post videos, post audio, post lectures, offer articles and more. You'll enjoy it: I've had threats and blackmail, abuse, smears and formal complaints with forged documentation.

But it's worth it, for one simple reason: pulling bad science apart is the best teaching gimmick I know for explaining how good science works. I'm not a policeman, and I've never set out to produce a long list of what's right and what's wrong. For me, things have to be interestingly wrong, and the methods are all that matter.
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