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Doing Good Science

Doing Good Science

Building knowledge, training new scientists, sharing a world.

The ideal of objectivity.

In trying to figure out what ethics ought to guide scientists in their activities, we’re really asking a question about what values scientists are committed to.

February 26, 2013 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Some musings on Jonah Lehrer's $20,000 "meh culpa".

Remember some months ago when we were talking about how Jonah Lehrer was making stuff up in his "non-fiction" pop science books? This was as big enough deal that his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, recalled print copies of Lehrer's book Imagine , and that the media outlets for which Lehrer wrote went back through his writing for them looking for "irregularities" (like plagiarism -- which one hopes is not regular, but once your trust has been abused, hopes are no longer all that durable).Lehrer's behavior was clearly out of bounds for anyone hoping for a shred of credibility as a journalist or non-fiction author...

February 13, 2013 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Reasonably honest impressions of #overlyhonestmethods.

I suspect at least some of you who are regular Twitter users have been following the #overlyhonestmethods hashtag, with which scientists have been sharing details of their methodology that are maybe not explicitly spelled out in their published "Materials and Methods" sections...

January 23, 2013 — Janet D. Stemwedel

Fear of scientific knowledge about firearm-related injuries.

In the United States, a significant amount of scientific research is funded through governmental agencies, using public money. Presumably, this is not primarily aimed at keeping scientists employed and off the streets*, but rather is driven by a recognition that reliable knowledge about how various bits of our world work can be helpful to us (individually and collectively) in achieving particular goals and solving particular problems.Among other things, this suggests a willingness to put the scientific knowledge to use once it's built.** If we learn some relevant details about the workings of the world, taking those into account as we figure out how best to achieve our goals or solve our problems seems like a reasonable thing to do -- especially if we've made a financial investment in discovering those relevant details.And yet, some of the "strings" attached to federally funded research suggest that the legislators involved in approving funding for research are less than enthusiastic to see our best scientific knowledge put to use in crafting policy -- or, that they would prefer that the relevant scientific knowledge not be built or communicated at all...

January 17, 2013 — Janet D. Stemwedel

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