Science vs. Pseudo-Science

While discussing the selection bias in published economic research (the principle applies to most kinds of research, really, but some fields are more exposed than others) in his Truth versus Precision in Economics, Tom Mayer quotes the Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, on contrasting genuine science with pseudo-science:

But there is one feature … that is generally missing in … [pseudo-science.] It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty – a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you ar doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid – not only what you think is right about it; … [p. 141, italics in original].*

According to Mayer, a practice to only report the best of many results is reputed to be common among economists. I find this alarming. Of course, economists are aware of the possibility of a bias in reported results, and, as Mayer points out (p. 142), it leads to credible results receiving less attention than it deserves.

* See Mayer’s Truth versus Precision (p. 141) for the reference to Feynman.

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One Response to “Science vs. Pseudo-Science”

  1. Truth Versus Precision in Economics by Thomas Mayer « Kvams Says:

    […] Science vs. Pseudo-Science Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Hitchens vs. D’SouzaNo Title […]

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