Scientific and academic study are two different things. Two different standards of hypothesis development and method of reduction/inference. Academic study bears more in common with pseudoscience than it does science. Particularly in a circumstance of stakeholder risk – always know the difference – always demand the real thing.
What qualifies as a real scientific study? What do we call the circumstance wherein a study is produced which only meets part of that necessary set of requirements, or perhaps few or none of them? How do we flag the circumstance for instance, wherein a large population is placed at risk, and diligent precaution is established by means of simply a few incomplete statistical inductions falling far short of any standard of consilience? Below we have developed a checklist, which highlights the difference between academic study, and the real thing, scientific study. The checklist centers around the development of real professional hypothesis and the standards employed to accomplish testing and hypothesis reduction/inference.
An academic study, while it may employ some of the heuristics of statistical or other science – is not a scientific study if it does not get its boots muddy. That is to say, if it
Academic Study Pseudoscience
- fails to actually develop scientific hypothesis
- fails to follow an incremental (prior art) critical path of risk
- masquerades in and abuses its discovery process
- fails in duty to reduce, address and inform
- employs data-only or meta-study in lieu of readily available direct observation
- fails to employ any valid form of inference
- fails to actually attach inference to hypothesis
- fails to state a clear and constrained conclusion (hypothesis)
- fails to advise on the limits of its employment/implications, and finally
- fails to provide protocol or have a third party replicate its results.
It does not matter whether or not such a study passed social peer review or not. These are the ethical standards which distinguish real science from its authorized poseur.
If it sits in its cubicle and merely employs analysts or interns to run some ‘reliable’ (key word for lazy) databases and spin some heuristics on a one-and-done a priori question (orphan question) – then this is not science, rather social activity. Anyone can do that shit.
For instance, if you are tasked with protecting the American public on a matter of health risk (see Example C here), and you direct a ‘one-and-done’ statistical study in another country, which counts absences of danger flag data as if they were confirmed observations of negatives – and you place such analyses into the hands of interns running academic exercises – you should not get peer review, rather you should get prison time. As this is not real scientific study, no matter how correctly it might employ regression heuristics and p-values – and even if it passes peer review.
A meta-study of 1000 academic studies, is still an academic study – and not the pinnacle of scientific rigor.
Especially if the meta-study is then employed as excuse to avoid having to conduct real scientific study.
The below checklist is handy in differentiating real science, from its light and easy academic poseur. It is not that academic science does not serve an important role in both the development of intelligence and training of new scientists. The shortfall occurs when media pundits, conflict of interest policy-makers, fake skeptics and social wannabe’s fail to distinguish academic science from the real thing. This checklist is crafted to show, that academic science, despite its legitimacy in certain contexts and even in the case of having passed peer review, bears more in common with pseudoscience than it does real science. Particularly in the circumstance of precaution – always know the difference – always demand the real thing.
This standard is a tough standard. It should be tough – as that is the job of skepticism: ensuring rigor inside science.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Distinguishing Scientific from Academic Study”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 30 Dec 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-9fg