Sunday, December 25, 2005

Selective Scientific Memory

As the debate over the ethics safeguards around scientific inquiry continues over the coming weeks, I wonder how many articles will be published that mention the Columbia University Prayer Study Fraud. Something tells me that all those Chrisitian pundits who are going to jump on this bandwagon to denounce science as "lies, damned lies and statistics" won't even remember how much this study was bruited about in late 2001/early 2002. I'll keep an eye on it and see what turns up.

For those of you who don't know, this was one of the most poorly designed studies that money was ever spent on, that didn't adequately control for, well, anything, really. But the women who got prayed for by anonymous people half-way around the world supposedly had increased rates of fertility treatment success. On further review, it turns out to be hogwash, but Columbia University is being really snarky about admitting they've been duped.

I don't know what can be done to increase the enforcement of ethical standards within the scientific community, if anything, but we have to step up to the plate here and show the rest of the world that we can do our part. How can we work to increase knowledge and better mankind if we can't be trusted to tell the truth?


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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu