13 June 2024

Trusting the Science Is Difficult When There Is So Much Lying

And not a little bit of lying about results, but a lot of lying. Academic Publisher Retracts Over 11,300 Papers and Shuts 19 Journals As It Is Overwhelmed by Fraud

First the What of Academic publishing.

Academic publishing is a major industry for two reasons. The publishing industry generates about $30 billion in revenue, approximately 40% of which comes from within the United States. These publications don't make their money from advertisers. To have a research paper published in a top-tier journal will cost the research team several thousand dollars. That money typically is an authorized expense of the grant or contract the laboratory has received.

So why spend money to be published? ($12,000 is mentioned as the cost.)

The way you win grants, acquire and maintain academic tenure, and move from the underpaid gypsy status of a post-doctoral researcher is by publishing. Nearly all the problems associated with academic publishing — fraudulent data, insipid and irrelevant subjects, and incoherent writing being top among them — stem from the role publishing in academic journals plays in scientific research. Paradoxically, the business model of academic journals is based on selling space to needy scientists, and so there is a tension between academic integrity and the bottom line that technology, especially the emergence of large language models, has exacerbated.

And the cheating/lying is real. Getting AI to write unintelligible nonsense. Falsifying data.

Scientific publishing has morphed into the worst kind of self-promotion.

When I was senior in college, I had dreams of becoming a PhD. I would read some of the academic journals of the day. They were awful. Why use one paragraph, when you could say the same thing in 3 pages of techno-babble? You were not awarded points for Brevity, or Clarity. In fact you were penalized for those traits. In the end I decided that getting a PhD wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and I went into industry instead.

The next time someone tells you to "trust the science," just remember that you are being asked to rely upon a deeply corrupted system that hosts a lot of people who are much more interested in moving their careers forward than in the cause of science.

Hat tip View from the Beach: Science is Dead, Long Live Science

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