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Science

Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed? 444 444

HughPickens.com writes: Richard Horton writes that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."

Comment: Lost link to report found, and "site owners" (Score 3, Informative) 147 147

The link to the actual report in TFA is broken, as it was on the Belgian commission's own site until a few moments ago. So here it is:
http://www.privacycommission.b...

The recommendations for site owners is to enhance the cookie opt-in banner that you already see on European sites. A cookie for cookies! It's buried deep in the heavily enumerated document, so I'll quote it in full:

To Website Owners
Relating to website owners or webmasters who wish to use the social plug-ins offered by Facebook, the Privacy Commission refers to its own-initiative recommendation on the use of cookies, in which it stipulates that owners must properly inform visitors of their website and obtain the latter's specific consent for cookies and other meta files of which they may not control re-use. In this context, the Privacy Commission refers to social networks, among others, and recommends that social network buttons are not activated until users have given their specific consent. The current integration possibilities of social plug-ins offered by Facebook, however, do not meet these criteria yet. For the time being, the Privacy Commission therefore recommends to use tools such as "Social Share Privacy" ( http://panzi.github.io/SocialS... ) as a way to obtain user consent. By using a tool such as "Social Share Privacy", third-party plug-ins do not connect to third-party servers (and consequently data are not sent to third parties) until users have clicked on the social plug-in.

Comment: Re:disable flash! (Score 1) 42 42

On Win8, Chrome and IE have Flash built-in. Flash updates have become an issue only on Firefox, and even there you can make Flash "ask to activate," and Mozilla central blocks outdated versions. On Win7 you still have to update Flash for IE as well as Firefox.

I guess everyone using a browser knows this, but hasn't deemed it worthwhile to respond to these comments apparently from some archived library of ranting. Or you're on Linux or Apple! I don't know how it works there.

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve. -- Robert Frost

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