Medical Tuesday Blog
The Politicization Of Science The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science
Causes, Consequences, and the Road to Reform
David Randall Christopher Welser
Preface by Peter Wood
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has long been interested in the politicization of science. We have also long been interested in the search for truth—but mainly as it pertains to the humanities and social sciences. The irreproducibility crisis brings together our two long-time interests, because the inability of science to discern truth properly and its politicization go hand in hand.
The NAS was founded in 1987 to defend the vigorous liberal arts tradition of disciplined intellectual inquiry. The need for such a defense had become increasingly apparent in the previous decade and is benchmarked by the publication of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind in January 1987. The founding of the NAS and the publication of Bloom’s book were coincident but unrelated except that both were responses to a deep shift in the temperament of American higher education. An older ideal of disinterested pursuit of truth was giving way to views that there was no such thing. All academic inquiry, according to this new view, served someone’s political interests, and “truth” itself had to be counted as a questionable concept.
To some extent the natural sciences held themselves exempt from the epistemological and social revolution that was tearing the humanities (and the social sciences) apart. Most academic scientists believed that their disciplines were immune from the idea that facts are “socially constructed.” Physicists were disinclined to credit the claim that there could be a feminist, black, or gay physics. Astronomers were not enthusiastic about the concept that observation is inevitably a reflex of the power of the socially privileged.
A reproducibility crisis afflicts a wide range of scientific and social-scientific disciplines, from epidemiology to social psychology. Many supposedly scientific results cannot be reproduced, because of improper use of statistics, arbitrary research techniques, lack of accountability, political groupthink, and a scientific culture biased toward producing positive results. The report includes a series of policy recommendations, scientific and political, for alleviating the reproducibility crisis . . .
Read the original report at https://www.nas.org/reports/the-irreproducibility-crisis-of-modern-science/full-report