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Submission + - Positive bias could erode public trust in science (

ananyo writes: Evidence is mounting that research is riddled with positive bias and, left unchecked, the problem could erode public trust, argues Dan Sarewitz, a science policy expert, in a comment piece in Nature this week. The piece cites a number of findings including a 2005 paper by John Ioannidis that was one of the first to bring the problem to light ('Why Most Published Research Findings Are False'). More recently, researchers at Amgen were able to confirm the results of only six of 53 'landmark studies' in preclinical cancer research (abstract only but interesting comments). While the problem has been most evident in biomedical research, Sarewitz argues that systematic error is now prevalent in "any field that seeks to predict the behaviour of complex systems — economics, ecology, environmental science, epidemiology and so on."
"Nothing will corrode public trust more than a creeping awareness that scientists are unable to live up to the standards that they have set for themselves," he adds.
So do slashdot readers perceive positive bias to be a problem? And if so, what practical steps can be taken to put things right?


Submission + - Ballmer Slams Android As 'Cheap,' Overcomplicated ( 1

jfruhlinger writes: "On the day Android Ice Cream Sandwich was released, Steve Ballmer livened up the Web 2.0 conference by lobbing potshots at Google's mobile OS, calling it the choice of "cheap" phones and claiming "the biggest advantage we have over Android is that you don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows Phone.""

Submission + - 1/2 billion taxpayer $ gone as solar startup folds ( 1

elrous0 writes: Solar panel maker Solyndra today said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after failing to successfully compete against lower-cost Chinese manufacturers. It is one of largest failures ever suffered by venture capitalists, and a major black eye for a U.S. Department of Energy that loaned the company more than $500 million.

Submission + - United Pilots To Use iPads For Navigation (

bonch writes: Pilots of United and Continental will ditch flight manuals and charts in favor of 11,000 iPads containing the same data in app form. Replacing 38 pounds of paper materials, the iPads will run an app called Mobile FliteDeck from Jeppesen, a provider of software navigation tools. Alaska Airlines adopted iPads back in May. United estimates a savings of 326,000 gallons of fuel a year due to the lighter load.

Submission + - RIP, computer book author Daniel McCracken (

harrymcc writes: "Daniel D. McCracken, who wrote his first book on programming in 1957 and went on to write ones on FORTRAN, COBOL, ALGOL, Modula-2, Pascal, and other topics, has died in New York at the age of 81. His influential books sold 1.6 million copies, and he continued to teach programming--including up-to-date topics such as Android--until his passing. He may have taught more people programming over a longer period than anyone else."

Submission + - Favstar enables cheaters to steal the best Tweets (

An anonymous reader writes: makes Twitter into a game by counting statistics for individual tweets. It's currently the sole aggregator of favorite data and serves as the only public source. Thus, Favstar is vital to its users, who are at the forefront of using Twitter's "favorite" option as a "like" button for a tweet. Favstar lets its users know both a tweet's "score" and who awarded the "points." But Favstar has no measures in place to deal with cheaters.

Submission + - New NASA Data Destroys Global Warming Alarmism ( 2

Buffaloaf writes: NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Submission + - Facebook More Hated Than Banks, Utilities (

jfruhlinger writes: "According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Facebook raises a lot of ire among its customers — more than Bank of America or AT&T Mobility. This bodes ill for the company — as blogger Chris Nerney points out, many of the others on the most-hated list are utilities and other companies with monopolies, which can hold customers despite bad service. At least Facebook edged out MySpace."

Submission + - Bitcoin trading site compromised ( 3

Beardydog writes: Bitcoin trading site has suspended operations for the rest of the day after illicit access to at least one account resulted in a steep drop in the price of Bitcoins on the site. Commenters to the support page for the event are reporting that a list of usernames and associated email addresses and password hashes have been posted online. MtGox are currently planning to roll back all of the day's trading, email notices to all affected users, and require replacement passwords for affected accounts.

Submission + - Alcohol most damaging drug, according to UK expert (

AliasMarlowe writes: Prof. Nutt, who was formerly scientific advisor to the UK government on drug policy, has published an article in the Lancet comparing the damaging effects of various drugs on (i) the individual, and (ii) others in society. Top of the damage list is alcohol, followed by heroin and crack. Cocaine and tobacco came at about one third the score of alcohol, while ecstasy and LSD are estimated to be among the least damaging. No word in the BBC article on cannabis, perhaps to avoid influencing the Proposition 19 vote in California.

Just as a reminder, Prof. Nutt was sacked from his advisory position by the previous (Labour) government, apparently because he relied on actual evidence for making his recommendations instead of echoing what the politicians wanted to hear.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.