Why scientists disagree # 4

Posted on May 15, 2011

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Professor Wiggly: “Peter’s right – scientists suffer from information overload so if their honest they should be humble and uncertain. There’s too much they don’t know. For example there were over 900,000 articles published last year dealing with medical research. A scientist sincerely trying  to

Power struggle

keep up with their own special field alone would have to read several thousand articles, do their research, analyse their results, write them up, send them to a  research journal, and then rewrite  the papers, to meet their critics comments, write-up grant applications, supervise graduate students.etc. Talk about information overload… there it is. No wonder they disagree with each other . they can’t begin to keep up with the articles published in their own field. From the different theories and thousands of piles of evidence  they read and remember different bits so understandably they end up with different theories and  different bits evidence. Or, frequently, in order to reduce the information overload most of  the scientists in a given field will focus on one popular theory while arguing about the details, and producing bits of evidence which is always incomplete, some of  contradictory. Furthermore, scientific journals often refuse to publish negative evidence so it can take years for  a theory to be properly evaluated. Sometime the only way that scientists who are critical of a hit parade theory can to be heard is to try to start their own journals which is a complex and expensive proposition. So scientist can disagree about their theories or parts of a theory, and since there is never enough evidence, and some of it conflicting, scientists frequently disagree about the evidence. Like any large institution Science has cliques and power struggles – struggles for grant money, for journal space, for publicity, for followers and big science has  ways of punishing those who don’t dance to the party tune ( e.g., denying them grant money and publication space ). Scientists inevitably get entangled in  the politics of science!”

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Posted in: Sciencing