"Compromised science" news/opines (includes retractions, declining academic standards, pred-J, etc)

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by C C, Apr 28, 2023.

  1. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    What to make of Havana syndrome
    https://theness.com/neurologicablog/what-to-make-of-havana-syndrome/

    INTRO (Steven Novella): I have not written before about Havana syndrome, mostly because I have not been able to come to any strong conclusions about it. In 2016 there was a cluster of strange neurological symptoms among people working at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba. They would suddenly experience headaches, ringing in the ears, vertigo, blurry vision, nausea, and cognitive symptoms. Some reported loud whistles, buzzing or grinding noise, usually at night while they were in bed. Perhaps most significantly, some people who reported these symptoms claim that there was a specific location sensitivity – the symptoms would stop if they left the room they were in and resume if they returned to that room.

    These reports lead to what is popularly called “Havana Syndrome”, and the US government calls “anomalous health incidents” (AHIs). Eventually diplomats in other countries also reported similar AHIs. Havana Syndrome, however, remains a mystery. In trying to understand the phenomenon I see two reasonable narratives or hypotheses that can be invoked to make sense of all the data we have. I don’t think we have enough information to definitely reject either narrative, and each has its advocates... (MORE - details)

    Most recent item that publicly reignited the controversy:

    video link -->Havana Syndrome evidence suggests who may be responsible for mysterious brain injuries
     
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Last edited: Apr 3, 2024
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    ChatGPT "contamination": estimating the prevalence of LLMs in the scholarly literature
    https://arxiv.org/abs/2403.16887

    ABSTRACT: The use of ChatGPT and similar Large Language Model (LLM) tools in scholarly communication and academic publishing has been widely discussed since they became easily accessible to a general audience in late 2022. This study uses keywords known to be disproportionately present in LLM-generated text to provide an overall estimate for the prevalence of LLM-assisted writing in the scholarly literature.

    For the publishing year 2023, it is found that several of those keywords show a distinctive and disproportionate increase in their prevalence, individually and in combination. It is estimated that at least 60,000 papers (slightly over 1% of all articles) were LLM-assisted, though this number could be extended and refined by analysis of other characteristics of the papers or by identification of further indicative keywords.

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    Scientists oppose retractions for racism, sexism and fraud
    https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/scientists-oppose-retractions-racism-sexism-and-fraud

    EXCERPTS: Scientists are strongly opposed to the retraction of articles by authors who have committed sexual harassment or financial misconduct, or have made racist remarks, according to a survey.

    [...] In all cases, the respondents disagreed that these misdeeds should result in the loss of scientific papers, according to an article published this month in the Journal for Academic Ethics.

    However, the survey found higher levels of support for retracting work by those found guilty of grant funding misuse than for those who had made racist or sexist comments, though a clear majority were still opposed to retraction.

    [...] Academics’ reticence to retract work produced by those with objectionable characters was probably because they were “formally and informally trained to judge work solely on its quality”, said Mr Namuth, who also pointed to “very formal guidelines” from the Council on Publication Ethics that “emphasise research should only be retracted if the veracity of the findings is seriously compromised or called into question”. (MORE - missing details
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Peabody Museum review: Smearing science
    https://www.wsj.com/science/archaeo...hjhspygo117&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

    EXCERPTS: No great pleasure is unmixed with sorrow, goes the ancient wisdom, but I was surprised to have to acknowledge it while visiting Yale University’s Peabody Museum—one of the finest smaller natural history museums—which reopened last week after four years of reconstruction and reconsideration...

    [...The...] gallery’s polemic against European science is even more sweeping: “Astrolabes, telescopes, and sextants contributed to the colonization of lands and seas.” Their colonial-sourced materials “contributed to atrocities against indigenous and enslaved people.” And the singularity of Europe’s scientific revolution is questioned...

    [...] If the museum really wanted to scrutinize injustices behind artifacts, it could have pointed out that Persian and Chinese instruments were also used to colonize and conquer. And in the “Hall of the Pacific,” instead of praising the “navigational skills” of Asian peoples that allowed them to “settle most of the region,” it might have talked about Pacific settler imperialism.

    Except that—in keeping with the romance now in force—non-Western cultures take on an almost otherworldly aura. Objects from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are praised for their beauty and power. Mesopotamian society is even credited with an enlightened approach to gender: “Women were dynamic participants.” (No point is made about one tablet showing a mother giving her daughter a wedding gift: a slave.)... (MORE - missing details)
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  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Cureus reviewing paper alleged to plagiarize Lancet article
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04/05/cureus-reviewing-paper-alleged-to-plagiarize-lancet-article/

    A 2022 paper in Cureus on causes of cancer around the world is under investigation by the journal following inquiries by Retraction Watch prompted by a reader’s email...

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    Embattled researcher Didier Raoult earns more than 100 expressions of concern and another retraction
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...xpressions-of-concern-and-another-retraction/

    An Elsevier journal has issued just over 100 expressions of concern for papers published by a group of researchers led by the French microbiologist Didier Raoult, who also notched a new retraction – his tenth – in a separate publication.

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    High-profile ob-gyn accused of duplicating data threatens to sue critic
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...-of-duplicating-data-threatens-to-sue-critic/

    Sometime last summer, Ben Mol, an obstetrician-gynecology researcher in Australia, and his colleagues were adapting a European guideline on unexplained infertility when they came across a 2006 paper from Maria Luisa Casini, a pharmacologist in Rome, that gave them pause because of results that were not statistically significant...

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    Paper claiming vaping tops nicotine gum for smoking cessation retracted from JAMA journal
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...moking-cessation-retracted-from-jama-journal/

    A JAMA journal has retracted a paper on vaping it published two months ago after the researchers alerted the editors to “significant coding errors” and other problems with the work...

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    Exclusive: ‘Bust Size and Hitchhiking’ author to earn four more expressions of concern
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...hor-to-earn-four-more-expressions-of-concern/

    The journal Social Influence will be issuing expressions of concern for four papers by Nicolas Guéguen, a marketing researcher whose work has long been dogged by allegations, Retraction Watch has learned...

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    Chief researcher at national Japanese institute has paper retracted for faking data
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/03...nstitute-has-paper-retracted-for-faking-data/

    An official journal of the Japanese government has retracted a 2021 paper over concerns about misconduct in the work, which was performed in a national research center...
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  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    ‘Race’, anti-racism and biology
    https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2024/04/04/race-anti-racism-and-biology/

    INTRO: Using biology to determine the racial ancestry of human remains is racist. Except when it’s done in the name of anti-racism.

    "We urge all forensic anthropologists to abolish the practice of ancestry estimation."​

    Biological ancestry, moreover, plays no role in susceptibility to disease. Except when it does.

    "Despite social scientific perspectives that endorse a nonbiological basis to race, within biomedicine, biological uses of race remain entrenched due to their utility for identifying the causes of the disease."​

    Artificial intelligence (AI) systems identifying ‘race’ from medical images perpetuate systemic racism. Except when doing so ameliorates racial health disparities.

    "AI models can predict the demographics of patients, including race, directly from medical images, even though no distinguishing anatomical or physiological features are evident to human clinicians."​

    Above all, ‘race’ has no basis in biology. Except when it has.

    Such contradictory conclusions can be drawn from an increasing number of studies of ‘race’, health and disease. The mixed messaging here is not merely contradictory and confusing; it potentially harms those from racial populations already bearing the brunt of health inequities, while also hindering efforts to close these often deadly divides... (MORE - details)
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    ‘Star’ neuroscientist faked data in paper and grant applications, U.S. government finds
    https://www.thetransmitter.org/ethi...-and-grant-applications-u-s-government-finds/

    The faked data, which was part of research on the genetic mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, was used to obtain more than $1.4 million in federal funding.

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    Like sordid medicine shows of the past, we don't need the establishment exploiting indigenous cures in the name of social justice philosophy's postcolonial skewering of science and culture
    https://montrealgazette.com/opinion...did-medicine-shows-exploited-indigenous-cures

    EXCERPTS: Indigenous Peoples in North America have a long history of using plants to treat ailments — a tradition they share with ancient Greek and Egyptian medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

    [...] Indigenous Peoples held a certain fascination for white American settlers, and were believed by some to possess secrets of healing...

    [...] Unfortunately, the real history of Indigenous medicine is clouded by the sordid history of medicine shows.

    Recently, though, the Canadian government has called for a recognition of its contributions, with Environment and Climate Change Canada’s new Indigenous Science Division mandated “to bridge, braid and weave Indigenous science with western science.”

    That is a noble thought, but science is a matter not of philosophy, but of evidence. There is no western science or Indigenous science. There is only science. Evidence needs to rule... (MORE - missing details)

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    'Gambling with your life': Experts weigh in on dangers of the Wim Hof method
    https://www.livescience.com/health/...rts-weigh-in-on-dangers-of-the-wim-hof-method

    INTRO: "The Iceman" Wim Hof claims a combination of breathing exercises and cold exposure can bring people many benefits, including increased willpower; fat loss; a "fortified" immune response; "balanced" hormones; and reduced inflammation. The jury is still out on whether the Wim Hof Method (WHM) has any of these benefits, but are the teachings also dangerous?

    Wim Hof method
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wim_Hof#Wim_Hof_Method

    EXCERPT: Hof markets a regimen called the Wim Hof Method (WHM), which involves willpower, exposure to cold water, and breathing techniques. While Hof claims his method has beneficial effects on various conditions, there is little scientific basis for these claims. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, a scientist who has studied Hof, said: "[Hof's] scientific vocabulary is galimatias. With conviction, he mixes in a non-sensical way scientific terms as irrefutable evidence." Wim's identical twin brother Andre has a similar tolerance for cold, despite living a different lifestyle, suggesting that much if not all of Hof's abilities are innate...
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    Mass General Brigham puts antiracism ahead of their patients’ health
    https://www.thefp.com/p/mass-general-brigham-antiracism-maternity

    Last Tuesday, Mass General Brigham announced it will stop reporting to child welfare officials suspected incidents of abuse or neglect solely because a fetus or a newborn is exposed to drugs. [...] These clinical considerations flow from the politics of group identity, not from the best interests of individual patients—which is the north star of medical ethics...
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    Debunking the myths: The rise of the anti-sunscreen movement
    https://www.skeptic.org.uk/2024/04/debunking-the-myths-the-rise-of-the-anti-sunscreen-movement/

    INTRO: Every year, as summer approaches, there is a small movement of people for whom a cloud of controversy surrounds sunscreen. Since the development of the first commercial sunscreen by Milton Blake in the early 1930s, some have raised questions regarding sunscreen safety, claiming it is toxic, ineffective, or even deliberately engineered to cause harm.

    The exact origins of the anti-sunscreen conspiracy theory are difficult to pinpoint. It is often propagated through social media platforms, blogs, and alternative health communities that promote a naturalistic health and wellness approach. Like many conspiracy theories, it likely stems from a combination of misinformation, anecdotal experiences, and distrust in established institutions... (MORE - details)
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  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Well yes but that linked article is so general and non-specific that I could have written it myself. A lot of assertions, almost no data or specific examples, no names other than a Brazilian model called Giselle Bünchen....... It's seems the writer has done little more than looking up a few things on the web. Investigative journalism this is not, and nothing like enough to debunk a false idea effectively.

    I'd never heard of this British "The Skeptic" outfit before. It is not a patch on the American magazine with the same title. In fact I notice that in spite of it being British, it adopts the US spelling of sceptic, viz. "skeptic". One has the suspicion it may be trying subliminally to pass itself off as the more august American publication. That one, founded by Michael Shermer, has a Wiki entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeptic_(American_magazine). There is no such entry for this British one, which apparently has an editorial team from something called the "Merseyside Skeptics [sic] Society". Sounds fairly amateurish to me.
     
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  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    The magazine started as a newsletter in 1987 by Wendy M. Grossman, who -- though not mentioned as an ex-pat, apparently spends a lot of time in the UK ("sits on the executive committee of the Association of British Science Writers"...etc). Crossed paths with and was influenced by the Skeptical Inquirer.

    The magazine has been edited by others since 1998. The baton of The Skeptic was passed to Michael Marshall and Alice Howarth in 2020. "The magazine is also supported by an Editorial Advisory Board which as of 2015 included, among others: James Alcock, Susan Blackmore, Derren Brown, David Colquhoun, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins."

    The Skeptic magazine annually dispenses the "Ockham Awards" (apparently some kind of recognition of the overall skeptic community's most admired efforts).

    Probably some decline in standards even in skeptical literature, similar to Scientific American and the lot, with the creep of this or that agenda into administrative levels. Should "pseudoscience witch-hunting" have somehow become one of the noble crusades, then Elissar Gerges (a Canadian?) may be overzealously lax at times, with the editorial staff perhaps looking the other way for the sake of "good causes".

    The Skeptic (British magazine)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Skeptic_(British_magazine)
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    Exclusive: Wiley journal editor under investigation for duplicate publications
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...der-investigation-for-duplicate-publications/

    An academic editor at Wiley who vowed to “uphold publication ethics” is being investigated by the company for allegedly publishing three of his papers twice, in violation of journal policies...

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    The dean who came to visit – and added dozens of authors without their knowledge
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...ed-dozens-of-authors-without-their-knowledge/

    Earlier this year, a group of lecturers in Malaysia received a WhatsApp message from a colleague who had made a disturbing discovery...

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    Publisher flags papers found by university to involve misconduct more than a year ago
    https://retractionwatch.com/2024/04...y-to-involve-misconduct-more-than-a-year-ago/

    Toxicologic Pathology – a Sage title – has issued expressions of concern for six papers that were among the subjects of an investigation by Azabu University that concluded in November 2022...
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    Or: Why academia sucks (Sabine Hossenfelder)

    VIDEO EXCERPTS: When I signed up for studying at the university, I thought being a physicist was my dream job.

    [...] My expectations were based on biographies of scientists. They wrote a lot of letters to each other; they went to conferences. They were thinkers and tinkerers and had sometimes heated but usually respectful arguments.

    This is what I expected. Yes, that was hopelessly naïve, I know I know.

    But, in my defense. I don’t come from an academic background.

    [...] At this time, I was the only woman at the institute, except for the administration.

    [...] I’m not just telling you this because it’s entertaining, it was also a rather rude awakening. It made me realize that this institute wasn’t about knowledge discovery. It was about money making.

    And the more I saw of academia, the more I realized it wasn’t just this particular institute and this particular professor.

    It was generally the case. The moment you put people into big institutions, the goal shifts from knowledge discovery to money making. Here’s how this works...

    video link --> My dream died, and now I'm here

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    Last edited: Apr 12, 2024
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    This fMRI technique promised to transform brain research — why can no one replicate it?
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00931-x

    It was hailed as a potentially transformative technique for measuring brain activity in animals: direct imaging of neuronal activity (DIANA) held the promise of mapping neuronal activity so fast that neurons could be tracked as they fired. But nearly two years on from the 2022 Science paper, no one outside the original research group and their collaborators has been able to reproduce the results...
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  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Looks as if the scientific method is working: lack of reproducibility flushes bad science down the toilet.
     
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    Originally in The Atlantic, but there's a contingent and partial sign-up wall there, potentially obstructing some readers.
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    Britain is leaving the U.S. gender-medicine debate behind
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/ot...vidence-for-youth-gender-medicine/ar-BB1lvgqg

    In a world without partisan politics, the Cass report on youth gender medicine would prompt serious reflection from American trans-rights activists, their supporters in the media, and the doctors and institutions offering hormonal and surgical treatments to minors. At the request of the English National Health Service, the senior pediatrician Hilary Cass has completed the most thorough consideration yet of this field, and her report calmly and carefully demolishes many common activist tropes...

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    Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals?
    https://geneticliteracyproject.org/...-chemicals-the-media-say-yes-science-says-no/

    We finally have comprehensive, competent, non-ideological research to help us assess what up till now has mostly been speculative scenarios and agenda-inspired hyperbole disguised as research. A study by German researchers published in Science in April is now widely accepted—among experts—as the largest and most definitive study to date on the “Insect Apocalypse” scenario...
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  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    The Cass report is again an example of good science being used to drive out bad - and tackle a ghastly identity politics minefield.
     
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    What myths about the Anthropocene get wrong
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smit...s-about-the-anthropocene-get-wrong-180984181/

    Across a spectrum of disciplines, the Anthropocene touched—and often jabbed—a nerve: sometimes as a gut response to a disturbing new idea and sometimes with discomfort at unfamiliar sociopolitical implications. For whatever reasons, the Anthropocene came under fire. But the barrage of criticism has often focused on what the Anthropocene isn’t rather than what it is. Fundamental misconceptions have come to surround this concept and to cloud its meaning. Here we debunk ten common myths about the Anthropocene...
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