Fake Science

Spread the love

Unless you have been in a cave the last year, you are well aware of the fact that most of what we call news is just made up. Any story with “sources say” in it is fictional. The writer simply conjured the sources and most likely the things they would have said, if they existed. Maybe someone did say something like what was reported, but the so-called reporter was not there to hear it. At best, they got it from the gossip chain or from some C-level talking head, cooling his heels in a cable television green room.

The worst for this is sports reporting, as they no longer even pretend to do be doing real reporting. They just make stuff up and slap the words “according to sources” on it and it is posted as news. Trade rumors are where you see this all the time. Since the people doing the deals for the sports clubs are not talking about their business on camera, the fake news reporters are free to just make up what they want, so they do. It’s all pitched as “rumors” so when it never happens, the fake sports reporters can “report” on that.

Even fake news needs content, which is where fake science comes in. There’s nothing better for a fake news story than a quote from a fake scientist, especially when the topic is human health. Turn on the local fake newscast and there’s always at least one fake story on health or diet. Many of these shows now have a recurring health segment where one of the bubble heads puts on their serious face and talks into the camera about some new threat to your health, usually your diet. It’s all fake.

Late in January, the researchers Jordan Anaya, Nick Brown, and Tim van der Zee identified some fairly baffling problems in the research published by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, one of the more famous and prolific behavioral-science labs in the country, and published a paper revealing their findings. As I wrote last month, “the problems included 150 errors in just four of [the] lab’s papers, strong signs of major problems in the lab’s other research, and a spate of questions about the quality of the work that goes on there.”

Brian Wansink, the lab’s head and a big name in social science, was a co-author on all those papers, and refused to share the underlying data in a manner that could help resolve the situation, though he did announce certain reforms to his lab’s practices, and said he would be hiring someone uninvolved with the original papers to reanalyze the data. Wansink, whose lab is known for producing a steady stream of catchy, media-friendly findings about how to nudge people toward healthier eating and habits in general, has also openly admitted to a variety of data slicing-and-dicing methods that are very likely to produce misleading and overblown results.

What the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell does, is not science. Calling it science is a crime against the language, as well as science. For instance, they will have participants eat a variety of lunch offerings and then grade them on their perceived “healthiness.” Naturally, people get the “wrong” results, because there’s no fixed definition of “healthy” with regards to food. This allows the “scientist” doing the study to write a paper claiming that people are brainwashed into picking the wrong foods or that people need more education on diet.

Wansink’s problems just got a lot worse. Today, Brown, a Ph.D. student at the University of Groningen, published a blog post highlighting many more problems with Wansink’s research practices. First, it appears that over the years, Wansink has made a standard practice of self-plagiarism, regularly taking snippets of his text from one publication and dropping them into another — a practice that, while not as serious as outright data fraud or plagiarizing someone else’s material, is very much frowned upon. And sometimes it was more than “snippets.” Brown includes the following image of one Wansink article in which all of the yellow material (plus three of the four figures, which Brown said he couldn’t figure out how to highlight) is lifted from Wansink’s own previously published work:

In another instance, Brown writes, Wansink appears to have published the same text as two different book chapters at around the same time. “Each chapter is around 7,000 words long,” he writes. “The paragraph structures are identical. Most of the sentences are identical, or differ only in trivial details.”

What this suggests is the people running the place know full well that all of it is bullshit and nothing close to being real research. Once you come to accept that, going through the exercise of setting up dramatizations of real research work probably seems pointless. If you know the results in advance, the exercise is just silly. What we have here are adults kitted out in lab gear, live action role playing as a real scientists at a real lab. Their published work is just for the purpose of financing their fantasy game.

The root cause of the replication crisis in the soft sciences is mostly due to the fact that it is it not science. It’s market research. They try to quantify some behavior in order to pitch an idea already popular in the mass media or with the managerial class. By slapping the word “science” on it, they are pitching their role as an authority. Bill Nye, the toaster repairman, has made a killing claiming to speak for science on behalf of the cult of Gaia worship. The Cornell Food Lab does the same thing, but for nutrition and food marketing.

This points to one flaw in Karl Popper’s famous definition of science. What is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific. Science, according Popper, is that which can be invalidated or disproved. This sounds good until you look at the Cornell Food Lab. Everything they do can be invalidated, as almost all of it is nonsense. Therefore, it meets the definition of science as described by Popper. It also means that a pseudo-science can easily masquerade as science.

A better, more narrow definition of science is that science concerns itself with causation. If A causes B then science explains how A causes B. Analysis, on the other hand, points out that whenever we see B, we often see A, therefore, there is a correlation between A and B. That’s just observation. Statistical analysis takes observation further by apply probability to it. It’s not useless and it often aids science, but it is not science. It’s simply observation and analysis, and more often than not, pseudo-science.

This post has already been read 2617 times!

Leave a Reply

55 Comments on "Fake Science"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jim from Boston
Guest

Toaster-repairman Bill Nye is a Cornell alum…analyze that datapoint.

Severian
Guest
For what it’s worth (probably less than the electrons that display this), Popper’s “unfalsifiability” is also what allows Humanities profs to make the wacky “everything is relative” claims they do. Because, strictly speaking, even though “all swans are white” is falsifiable — just find a black one! — Popper’s disciples also say that no amount of white swans can prove that all swans are white. So just because every known object falls earthward at 9.8 meters per second squared, that doesn’t mean all objects will continue to do so — the Law of Gravity, after all, can be falsified, but… Read more »
Drake
Guest

I’m not a scientist. I do understand scientific method well enough to recognize most of what passes for “science” in the news and political discussions is much closer to religion.

Ryan
Guest
Steve Sailer has been going on about this for years: http://isteve.blogspot.com/2014/05/social-psychology-v-marketing-research.html http://www.unz.com/isteve/the-replication-crisis-is-psychology-more-like-astronomy-or-marketing-research/ I always have the same question about everything. My dad was in town last weekend, one topic was Albuquerque’s obsession with going green, and how it was big news that the city government had been given some prestigious award for promoting green energy. “Who gives out that award? And how do they have money? Someone is paying for this, who is it?” What the hell is going on in the world when some massive swath of academics have the money necessary to produce worthless pseudoscience? How the hell… Read more »
Member
Look at a few IRS 990’s. The marketeers have taken over almost everything. The depth (non-profits being hijacked and repurposed as money mills for the fundraisers and their hangers on) and breadth (the paucity of “legitimate” non-profits that spend money on good works, research, or education) of the capture is astonishing. Even if a non-profit is providing a public good (like a private university), the bulk of their revenue goes to salaries, employee benefits, marketing, fund raising, and of course, the ever expanding endowment. How much of that revenue stream is coming from some dirt person, believing that the American… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

There are so many people getting personally rich under the cover of 501(c)3’s and the IRS Form 990. If the cover ever gets pulled off of that pot, what will be found inside will be spectacular, and not in a good way.

LetsPlay
Member

Yep, another swamp in need of some serious cleaning up! Come on AG Sessions, you boys have a lot of work to do. We can’t wait on Congress for anything. They be dindu’s, all day and all night.

LetsPlay
Member

You make a good point El, however, I would put my bet on the Finance guys being the ones really pulling the strings and setting up the scams to funnel the funds around for their nefarious deeds. The marketing guys certainly help “raise” the money but they don’t control what happens to it. They be the bean counters and the corner offices.

Dutch
Guest
In a sales and marketing environment involving “real” things, there are tallies (weekly, daily, hourly?) and everyone gets paid according to the spreadsheet. Of course the CEO gets paid in stock and options, that is a different kettle of fish. In the below-the-radar “sciency” “non-profity ” “grant making” world, there is a pot of money that is kept filled and then there is the “skim” for the principal players. The only spreadsheet involves how much is going into the pot and what it costs to generate the “findings”. The big, black-box middle ground gets skimmed very hard, as there’s no… Read more »
Member

Based on the rule of thumb, “money equals power,” it’s been interesting to see, as I’ve read through some of these 990s, who makes more, the CFO or the head fund raiser. So far it seems to be a toss up. Interestingly, from what I’ve seen so far, the guy in charge of getting government grants is behind the chief of “development” and the CFO when it comes to total compensation.

Al from da Nort
Guest

El;
Agree, but more to the point, NGO world is the central component of the Prog ecosystem. Shut that off and the world gets a lot simpler and the economy (eventually) gets more prosperous as whole swaths of average-to below ability Cloud spawn are forced to find productive work. But how_?

Problem is that charities were once doing important things that government wouldn’t or could’t do. But now the government does everything. So do we really need tax-exempt charities any more_?

Member
After I read your post, I tried to think of a single traditional charity function where government entitlement spending hasn’t supplanted private giving. The only one I wasn’t sure about is funeral and burial expenses. I’ll have to research that sometime. So that’s a very valid point. What do charities do these days? One thing, based on the 990s, is support a big chunk of the Cloud’s managerial class. Going back to Zman’s post on the Department of Nice, the 503c’s also write a lot of the policy that lets Z’s “visionary” manager be a visionary. Each NGO has a… Read more »
Anonymous White Male
Guest
You see this in so called “climate change science”. It is used for indoctrination, not for actually discovering any valid information. It’s primary purpose is to separate tax money from the non-elite. I have also noticed this in genetic research. I thought for years that mapping the genome was one of the most positive things science had done. Now, I see it as proving the “inevitability” of anything our masters want us to believe. For instance, using genetic research to push the out of Africa theory. It also seems to push a narrative that, for example, their is no essential… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

Market research masquerading as science. Bingo! Much of the rest of it is brainwashing labeled as science. The Matrix is in love with the word “science”.

LetsPlay
Member
I used to do some “low-quant” market research, not the expensive high brow kind that the big consumer firms seem to be enthralled with. But I never mistook what I was doing for “science.” It was simply about gathering some information, data points, by talking to or getting inputs from my customers or prospects and figuring out product and technology directions and what the competition was doing. The stuff people like Cornell are doing is simply fraud and lying. To call that science is also a lie. But if the public doesn’t know the difference, well, there we go again… Read more »
Jak Black
Guest

It’s not so much market research as it is advertising. The vast majority is bought and paid for before the “scientists” muck about to produce the required findings.

Member
The market for what Wansink and his ilk produce is vast. People have been conditioned to expect answers to all of life’s problems. Thus arose the soft sciences. Here’s what Shakespeare thought of them: Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor? Doctor: Not so sick, my lord, As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies, That keep her from her rest. Macbeth: Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Raze out the written troubles of the brain, And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous… Read more »
Doug
Guest

comment image?w=1272

Al from da Nort
Guest

Doug;
This is an absolute classic. Takes a minute to realize that we’re seeing lots of CO2 being generated to de-ice the turbine blades of a great green energy machine that can’t turn due to an absence of global warming. Not to mention spitting in Gaia’s face with poisonous, fossil-fuel based de-icing fluid

Doug
Guest
I thought is epic too. If anyone was ever qualified to judge the quality of science Einstein is probably tops. There’s a saying about extraordinary scientific claims require extraordinary proof of their varacity. Large wind will never be an efficient power source. It was a total boondoggle start to finish. Many wind farms are spinning for show, the operators are skimming off the 70% or larger gov subsidies. On the other hand small wind is practical. I’ve built my own off grid system using solar cells and a tandem PMA wind turbine, combined they charge a 800lb 12v fork truck… Read more »
LetsPlay
Member

That is quite the ironic shot if ever there was one. Just a note, you forgot the other part of Albert’s quote, he wasn’t so sure about the universe.

Doug
Guest

You got a point there.
In light of Z’s post here, maybe Albert’s quote about the definition of insanity would be more appropriate?

UKer
Guest

Years ago Fake News was simple. Reporters on some foreign assignment would include the phrase “the taxi-driver told me on the way from the airport” and this justified a whole screed of made up information and imaginings based on the proclivities of the hack in the back. They were smart cabbies in these places, apparently, for the journalist would be told at length all about the nation’s’ current foreign policy dilemma or even their import/export gap. In other words, the man behind the wheel was an expert on economics, or a liar.

Or maybe the journalist was.

Member

Tom Friedman made his whole career out of writing about what his cabby told him or what he saw on the golf course! May I share with you one of the funniest takedowns in recent memory:

http://www.nypress.com/flathead/

Member

Thanks. Loved the takedown. Friedman is one of the stupidest, most pompous assholes in the history of the world. Naturally, he’s a Cult hero.

Member

I couldn’t link to everything, but Matt Taibbi has some kind of grudge against Friedman (don’t we all) so there’s lots more where that came from. Just Google “matt taibbi tom
friedman” and enjoy.

Fuel Filter
Guest
Nowhere is this bullshit more blatant than in these two areas: “Climate” science (The Goracle) and “Food and Diet” science (salt, sugar, the gluten BS, hi-carb diets and saturated fats, to name just a few).  And then there’s this one that really chaps my ass on the horrible dangers of “second-hand smoke” which I, and millions of others knew was always complete and utter bullshit. http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.co.il/2016/09/helena-miracle-not-so-much-new-study.html The World Health Org actively suppressed this study which was conducted decades ago which proves there is minimal-to-zero danger from SHS because of their jihad against smoking in general. All so a bunch of… Read more »
Dr. Mabuse
Guest

I never fell for the second-hand smoke con. My elderly aunts both smoked, and complained bitterly of being treated as second-class citizens by self-righteous snotnoses who felt no embarrassment arrogantly ordering them around when they would light up a cigarette OUTSIDE.

The dumbest case is of a sidewalk patio which insisted that no smoking was allowed. They couldn’t seem to see the idiocy of lecturing smokers on how they were endangering the health of the other patrons… who were sitting 15 feet from the exhaust pipes of constantly passing cars and buses!

KHS71
Guest
Now there is third hand smoke. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-hand_smoke I feel genetics is more powerful than environment. My grandfather (mom’s father) smoked for 60 plus years and it never phased him. Died of old age just short of 90. I have numerous heart issues. I have lived on a pacemaker for the past 20 years. (first was implanted at 43) Have had two ablations, one cardioversion, typical atrial flutter and atypical atrial flutter, dilated cardiomyopathy (30% to 45% EF), and complete heart block. I have a bi-ventricular pacemaker/defib in me now. I have never smoked, don’t drink, and have never done any… Read more »
LetsPlay
Member
I’m sorry about your sensibilities having been offended. Would you mind if I sauntered over to your seat at the restaurant and took a piss on your leg while you ate your meal? My take on this is really about where one person’s freedom infringes on another persons. I have never been a smoker although I used to dabble in it in my younger days when hanging out in the bars and such. But it is simply a smelly business. Whether or not if affects your health, or mine is one issue. But to have to smell that stuff when… Read more »
james wilson
Guest

That is all true. Unfortunately, the anti-smoking Nazis are oppose smoking altogether, and no less against vaping. It is a similar mind set to militant veganism. Your foxhole has bad company. Not your fault.

originalguest
Guest
My personal favorite is how tens of millions of Americans still take statin drugs (used to lower cholesterol levels) even tho the lipid hypothesis (that dietary fats cause heart disease) turned out to be pure bs. Or didn’t you know that cholesterol is no longer even a “nutrient of concern”? Let me quote your buddy Karl Denninger on that: “I’ll say that the so-called medical establishment willfully and intentionally ignoring contrary evidence on the lipid hypothesis along with what appears to be a bad etiological model for coronary artery disease that has become embedded in what’s sold to you is… Read more »
Andy Texan
Guest

I was about to mention this very thing. I am amazed how successful this big pharma con has succeeded.

LetsPlay
Member

All brought to you by crony capitalism of USDA, FDA, AMA, Big Pharma, Big Ag, the Food Industry, University Research, Consultants on a Global scale. Consensus … It must be true!

BillyB
Guest

Hate to tell you but Cholesterol is the biggest factor in determining the risk of dying from heart disease. In fact the high end of normal is life threatening. This is science.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/optimal-cholesterol-level

I’m pretty sure if you look thru those articles for the studies showing cholesterol is no longer a concern, you will find studies financed by the egg industry. Eggs are your best source of Cholesterol

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eggs-and-cholesterol-patently-false-and-misleading-claims/

Statins aren’t much help. I know it is going against the themes in this article, but diet is the answer.

Guest
Guest

Hey, Bill Nye is the proud inventor on four utility patents and one design patent, including:

This patent on a plastic pouch for water formed in the shape of a lens:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=15&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=(nye.INNM.+AND+william.INNM.)&OS=in/nye+and+in/william&RS=(IN/nye+AND+IN/william)

Two patents on Toe Shoes:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=8&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=(nye.INNM.+AND+william.INNM.)&OS=in/nye+and+in/william&RS=(IN/nye+AND+IN/william)

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=5&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=(nye.INNM.+AND+william.INNM.)&OS=in/nye+and+in/william&RS=(IN/nye+AND+IN/william)

And this patent on a throwing technique trainer:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=4&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=(nye.INNM.+AND+william.INNM.)&OS=in/nye+and+in/william&RS=(IN/nye+AND+IN/william)

With a hot tech background like this how could anyone dare to question his scientific credentials on climate change?

Tdurden
Guest
You have to wonder how the actual, real life scientists feel about having a clown like bill nye (no capitalization of the name is an intentional show of disrespect.) cheapening their brand. Taking him seriously would be like asking Captain Kangaroo for sailing and navigation advice. What he practices is more akin to political science than anything approaching real climate science. That may even be too generous. More like religious studies. Words like “denier” are the parlance of religious fanatics. And if Newton were alive today he would most likely stomp a mud-hole in the ass of anyone calling himself… Read more »
Lulu
Guest

I am reading an excellent book Heart 411 by cardiologists at Cleveland Clinic, which along with Mark Hopkins and USC Medical Center, is one of gold standard of cardiology practices. Early in the book, the authors caution about “studies”, especially observational studies (i. e., correlation). This is heavy stuff for some who go to the internet or “news” articles, looking for solutions (preferably quick fixes) for whatever is ailing them. Dangerous business…

SamlAdams
Guest

Does that mean I have to give up my margarine and Egg Beaters?

Member

Asking what is science also begs the question as to what constitutes the existence of science, which then asks us to answer what existence itself is.
This is metaphysics. The truth of the matter is that the search for truth is not a materialistic endeavor at its core, but one which requires us to look at things reasonably. And sometimes that means not only by reason.

Member
Far too much ‘science’ is fraud undertaken to obtain government funding. At a guess, in excess of 95%. I once worked at a government research lab. Canadian, but government is government. The Defence Research Establishment Atlantic. Lovely nice people, accomplishing fuck-all, slowly. But we did drink a lot. Whenever we could we would ‘test’ equipment on a Canadian Navy boat. It was a wet navy in those days and I think we paid a nickel for a shot but a quarter for a coke, or some such outlandish disproportionate amounts. Cheap booze, expensive mix, so we acquired a taste for… Read more »
LetsPlay
Member

You forgot the cheap cigarettes!

Member

I did forget them, but it’s because I don’t smoke, but now you mention it, the smokers were extra special double happy on testing day.

TomA
Guest

Once upon a time (during the formative years of our specie’s evolution), anti-rational behavior would get you dead and thankfully that trait would decline over time as a result of natural selection. Today, the mentality behind pseudo-science is being rewarded and consequently the disease is spreading like a cancer. Because of boundless affluence, stupidity is no longer a detriment to either longevity or reproduction.

The real danger is not that we will become infinitely gullible, but that we have incentivized stupidity.

Tony
Guest

Fake news has been around for a while

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TknnvlcLsYI

Fuel Filter
Guest
I’m a bit late on this other one, but here goes. And then there’s Rachel Carson and William Rukelhaus of Nixon’s EPA who banned DDT based on nothing more than junk science.  Read this one and weep… http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1259 (BTW, DTN is an extremely valuable source for background on all things anti-American. It’s been around for years.) This cunt Carson has caused incalculable damage to our planet. She has directly murdered tens of millions of people with malaria, starved hundreds of millions more, sucked at least tens of trillions of dollars of wealth from all nations of the earth and directly… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

She probably sees all that as having done Gaia a favor. Alternative facts and all.

wpDiscuz