The Trouble With Scientists

The Trouble With Scientists

by Philip Ball

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Illustration by Carmen Segovia

” Given that science has uncovered a dizzying variety of cognitive biases, the relative neglect of their consequences within science itself is peculiar. “I was aware of biases in humans at large,” says Hartgerink, “but when I first ‘learned’ that they also apply to scientists, I was somewhat amazed, even though it is so obvious.” ”
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” But if you elect to constrain yourself to a narrow set of objectives before you’ve even done the experiments, don’t you close off potentially fertile avenues that you couldn’t have foreseen? Maybe, says Nosek, but “learning from the data” is not the way to reach reliable conclusions. “At present we mix up exploratory and confirmatory research,” he says. “One basic fact that is always getting forgotten is that you can’t generate hypotheses and test them with the same data.” If you find an interesting new lead, you should follow that up separately, not somehow tell yourself that this is what the experiment was about all along. ”

From Nautilus

 

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