Netreker0 wrote:By the way, can you point out the specific paragraph in that linked article that actually supports or even addresses your assertions?
You might want to, you know, read the quote and the line under said quote that immediately followed that link.
So in other words, the bit you got from it was just the same "field fashionable" thing, and not some sort of results bias, and that was the closest thing to relevant in your article. Thank you for your honesty.
(Edit: Side note. I have spent some time combing over nutritional studies and I've found a lot of conclusions that flat-out don't match the results and a lot of results that were clearly drawn from bad methodology, study design, or randomization. So... yes, results often are fashionable.)
For a second, I was tempted to take a play out of your book, and cry foul that you're focusing on one case that goes against my argument, rather than other, allegedly more important things. But I won't. Instead, I'll just say that I'm rather disappointed to find that results bias happens so much more often than I previously believed. That, and I'm going to look anything published in the field of nutrition even more skeptically than I normally see the world.
Netreker0 wrote:String theorists get funding because being the guy who completes string theory, or proves it, or completely disproves it, will get you headlines.
That's actually why they study
it. How in the world does this relate to being denied tenure for studying it in the 70's?
This is precisely the question I was posing to you, as I wondered why YOU were the one actually bringing up string theory as an example. There is a bias towards funding climate change studies. That is undeniable--just look at the PACs and other political action committees that have never funded any sort of scientific research before climbing over each other to fund rigorous scientific investigations of climate change. However, your posts weren't predicated on the assumption that "climate science is a popular thing to study." Your entire argument is predicated on the assumption that the vast majority of research funding in the area of climate change is heavily motivated on yielding specific results--namely that climate change is real, that it is either caused by or exacerbated by human activity, and that it will have some substantial impact on our way of life in the future. Multiple people have attacked that assumption. You responded with, well, string theory. Which lead me to raise the very question that you articulated so beautifully: "How in the world does this relate to being denied tenure for studying [string theory] in the 70's?"
Your claim of a perfect science world existing fails to take into account the many, many, many paradoxes that have existed and do exist.
Strawman. Honestly, my response to strawmen arguments tend to be rude and dismissive, and that is the sort of response deliberate strawmen arguments deserve. However, since you have been... comparatively courteous and you presented an interesting article that changes will change my view of some chunks of the scientific community, I'm going to assume that you honestly misinterpreted what I was saying, and that you didn't deliberately twist my statements into some extreme and easy assailed absolute statement in order to have an easy false target to destroy, in a callow and intellectually dishonest attempt to obfuscate facts and score cheap rhetorical points.
I never claimed the world of science was perfect, nor did I claim that it was 100% homogeneous, nor did I claim there were zero exceptions to any broad generalization. And I am very sorry if that was the impression you somehow got. I simply stated that, in my experience, the "fashionable science" bias--that I believe very much exists-- was dominated primarily by favoritism towards certain sexy, controversial fields or questions, rather than favoritism towards specific results. As you already conceded, the example you posted regarding string theory demonstrates allegations of favoritism of the first type. It does not, as far as I could glean from the article, demonstrate anything at all about the type of favoritism you're arguing about, that of the latter type.
And just in case I wasn't clear before, the relevance to the debate at hand is this: Your entire argument tries to explain away the substantial consensus regarding climate change by arguing that it is results bias that favors methodology favoring a certain result. In order to substantially undermine your argument, I didn't need to show that science is perfect, and that there is no sort of bias. It is sufficient to argue that results bias is not a dominant force, at least not on the order of causing 90%+ consensus all by itself. The other kind of bias, the string theory bias with which you rapidly vacillate between citing as a relevant example, and dismissing as an unrelated issue entirely, that bias would not favor one result over another. At best, it would put much more money into a certain area of research. At worst, it would do so to the detriment of other important areas of research, while also letting in more flawed studies ad PACs and think tanks were desperate to produce the next big piece on climate change.
Now, you've done a decent enough job showing that results bias is more prevalent than I realized. So, I acknowledge your point and I feel thoroughly humbled, if that makes you feel better. However, I think your argument is still severely undermined by the points raised my myself and others. Just because the bias exists in other parts of science doesn't mean it exists in climate climate science. Assuming arguendo that results bias exists in climate science, your argument further depends on the assumption that results bias heavily favors findings that climate change is real (or alternately, that results bias heavily favors finds that climate change does not exist, and through unknown mechanisms paradoxically produces flawed studies that fraudulently show that climate change is real.) As others have pointed out more articulately than I have, this is where your argument is weakest. In the private sector, far more money is tied up in companies that immediately benefit from the no-climate-change result than from the climate change result. The no-climate-change camp also consists of institutions and companies with longer histories and thus more time and opportunity to build relationships with those in government and universities that make policy decisions. Setting aside this sort of influence, which tends to ignore party lines, power in government has been passed back and forth over the years between a party that strongly favors one result, and a party that favors the opposite result, so on that front things seem to be a wash.