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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Scientism, Peer Review, and the Sclerotic Ceiling

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article was inspired a suggestion on Twitter. The article does not address creation science (it is from a site that is sympathetic not only to Roman Catholicism and theistic evolution), but the truth of this particular article stands on its own.

Many praise the peer review process in secular science, but is seriously flawed. Not only regarding creation science, but even our health is at risk.
Credit: FreeDigitalImages / Phil_Bird
Arteriosclerosis is a condition that can be described briefly as hardening of the arteries due to age and medical conditions, so the word sclerotic in the title relates to something that has grown rigid and unresponsive. As we have seen many times, the vaunted peer review process in secular science is not nearly as worthy of admiration as its supporters proclaim.

Secular peer review is a guild for the good ol' boys while blackballing creation science. (It is tremendously ironic that science supporting recent creation and refuting evolution is rejected out of hand, but science itself is impossible without God!) If something passes peer review, it is not a guarantee of truth. Indeed, the sclerotic ceiling is old and rigid, reinforced by the plaque of bad science and circular reasoning. Papers quote papers quote papers to support premises. However, there is a reproducibility crisis where the methods and conclusions of supporting documents have not been replicated — some have even been shown to be inaccurate and even false.

There are a few mavericks that attempt to buck the system and offer hypotheses that don't necessarily fit the established narratives and assumptions. Unfortunately, many of these may be valid but ricochet off the sclerotic ceiling. A few slip through the cracks now and then.

This poor and biased approach to science keeps the grant money flowing and is a means to gain the approval of others (sometimes doing whatever tinhorn researchers think it takes), but it is not just about supporting evolution. It also affects our health because of faulty studies in medical, pharmaceutical, and psychology areas. Again I say that scientists are human and can be just as rotten as the rest of us. All of us have sinned and need to repent, looking to God's Word as our ultimate standard of logic, morality, and ethics.
The problem with ­science is that so much of it simply isn’t. Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration announced that it had tried to replicate one hundred published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field. Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case. The OSC was the biggest attempt yet to check a field’s results, and the most shocking. In many cases, they had used original experimental materials, and sometimes even performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers. Of the studies that had originally reported positive results, an astonishing 65 percent failed to show statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes.

While I cannot endorse the site as a whole, I recommend reading the rest of this article, "Scientific Regress".

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