The reality of scientific research

I don’t think simple definitions of scientific method really catch the reality of how research is carried out. That is why I prefer not to use an algorithmic description of scientific method. Instead the definition suggested by Neil deGrasse Tyson appeals:

“Science is doing whatever it takes to avoid being fooled by reality”

Here’s a nice little cartoon outlining how real science can often be a frustrating and messy process.
Click on the image for a larger version)

With thanks to Biology Update (@BiologyUpdate)

47 responses to “The reality of scientific research

  1. The definition you mention is originally Richard Feynman’s and I love it. I think that it gets at the heart of the matter. It requires considering that science is done by humans and thinking about how it manages to succeed despite our cognitive limitations and biases. I think that pretty much everything detailed that can be said about scientific method flows from this one insight.

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  2. Richard Christie

    Thanks for clearing that up Mick.
    It’s useful to know that Chis Monckton NMHL is wrong in that the AGW conspiracy can’t be laid at the feet of Al Gore tampering with the air conditioning at a congressional hearing.
    Rather, it is all the fault of the Guardian newspaper. We shud ‘ave known.

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  3. Mick, there is something obscene about using comments on a post about the terrorist murder of so many innocents and young people to advance this old dishonest propaganda attacking scientists.

    Really such behavior is spamming. Ideally I should send these sort of comments to spam – it has the effects of the spam filters used by WordPress taking comments by such spammers out of other blogs as well.

    Come on – show some respect.

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  4. I posting this link on a thread about scientific method, not the Norway massacre thread.

    The video is attacking the BBC, not scientists.

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  5. The thread is about the scientific method, not Norway

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  6. Sorry. Mick – my computer has died and I rely on an iPod – not the easiest way of following discussions.

    But I am familiar with the content of the video – taken from a classic denier doco which has been debunked . And at least one of the “stars” (Christie I think) has disowned it. There has been another doco produced analyzing the distortions. (if I had a computer I could have provided the links – I did post an article on it some time ago).

    However, it is disingenuous to deny it attacks science. It sets up with selected BBC quotes to project an illusion of alarmism. Then it uses well known deniers like Ball to attack scientists, the IPCC and distort the science. Ball’s distortion of the ice core data is a classic one.

    I really cannot see why you should have posted the video on this specific article. A comment would have helped.

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  7. Then it uses well known deniers like Ball to attack scientists, the IPCC and distort the science. Ball’s distortion of the ice core data is a classic one.

    Why would anyone listen to a liar like Ball? He can’t even keep the facts straight about his own career history. He likes to play-act that he’s a climatologist. He’s not. It’s really easy to verify this. Same goes for Monckton. He’s not who he says he is.

    9. Climate Change – Meet the Scientists

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  8. The video is about the BBC and their reporting of global warming. It shows clips of scientists who disagree with their view. The BBC are not scientists.

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  9. Mick, the video is taken from the denier doco which has been, as I reported, thoroughly discredited. It does not include any scientists supporting the consensus or majority view on climate science. It includes people – mainly ex scientists or engineers, all of which take a contrarian view. That is amazingly distortionary seeing as 97% of climate scientists do support the consensus that the globe is warming and that human inputs are most likely the major cause.

    The BBC clips were only the intro and were carefully selected to create a false impression. There are specific attacks – particularly on the IPCC and the science. I don’t actually recall anyone attacking the BBC. In fact, I think the original doco was made for the BBC and screened by them. Subsequently there were complaints about it’s misleading nature, some at least of the complaints were upheld, and there has been a subsequent documentary analyzing each claim and showing how they were wrong.

    Anyway, what is your point in posting it? You made no explanatory comment.

    Do you support it’s message? If so, why?

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  10. Richard Christie

    <i.The video is about the BBC and their reporting of global warming. It shows clips of scientists who disagree with their view. The BBC are not scientists.

    Mick, of course the BBC aren’t scientists. The clip makes it clear that the BBC are mere puppets, puppets of the Guardian newspaper.

    Actually, in the real world, if you are really interested in the BBC’s science coverage how about reading a recent independent report on it :
    BBC Trust review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science With an independent assessment by Professor Steve Jones and content research from Imperial College London. July 2011
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/science_impartiality/science_impartiality.pdf

    It seems that concerns are raised about undue weight given to the fringe viewpoints (read climate change contrarians) in misguided attempt at balance.
    BBC response here http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/july/science_impartiality.shtml

    (thanks to Bryan Walker at Hot-topic.co.nz )
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/bbc-about-to-bite-bullet-on-climate-bs/

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  11. Anyway, what is your point in posting it? You made no explanatory comment.
    Do you support it’s message? If so, why?

    A point? An explanation? That would be nice for a change.
    Keep the spam.
    If you have a point, spell it out and take a position and be prepared to support it.

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  12. In fact, I think the original doco was made for the BBC and screened by them. Subsequently there were complaints about it’s misleading nature, some at least of the complaints were upheld, and there has been a subsequent documentary analyzing each claim and showing how they were wrong.

    Which original doco Ken?

    Just asking a question.

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  13. It includes people – mainly ex scientists or engineers, all of which take a contrarian view.

    Which of the people in the video are ex-scientists or engineers? Can you name them?

    Just asking a question

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  14. Which original doco Ken?
    Just asking a question.
    Which of the people in the video are ex-scientists or engineers? Can you name them?
    Just asking a question

    The google fail is strong with this one. He doesn’t even know about his own link. Moron.

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  15. Richard Lindzen
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    John Christy
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Fred Singer
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Nir Shaviv
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Phillip Stott
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Paul Reiter
    Engineer or ex-scientist?

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  16. “Moron”

    Strange thing to say

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  17. Mick -if you wish to waitt until I get my new PC in a week I can pass the link on to you.

    Meanwhile you could answer my question about your motive for posting that video – a reasonable query I thought as you made no comment when posting it.

    Really not interested in the tactic of avoidance by answering questions with others – life is too short and I interesting for that.

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  18. MIck, keep the spam.
    Nobody is interested. Not even you seem to be keen on finding out the details for yourself.
    If you have a point, spell it out and take a position and be prepared to support it.

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  19. I suspect that Cedric is actually just a random text generator. The posts under Cedric seldom have any relation to what has been said but just cut and paste seemingly random bits from other blogs which seem to be chosen from key words in the previous post. A sort of auto-troll if you like.

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  20. Richard Christie

    Richard Lindzen
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    John Christy
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Fred Singer
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Nir Shaviv
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Phillip Stott
    Engineer or ex-scientist?
    Paul Reiter
    Engineer or ex-scientist?

    Let me guess, these are the only scientists who are not under of mind control by the Guardian?

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  21. They are the people in the video.
    Ken said the people were either ex-scientists or engineers.

    I was just asking him a question.

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  22. Mick “I was just asking him a question.”

    But why bother when you have bern asked a specific question of clarification yourself.

    You want to avoid that, don’t you Mick?

    What was your purpose in posting that video here?

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  23. What was your purpose in posting that video here?

    If you have something to say, then say it openly. Stop hiding behind questions.
    If you have a point, spell it out and take a position and be prepared to support it. If you want a reasonable response then you have to be reasonable to begin with.

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  24. I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition

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  25. I see my hypothesis is gaining more evidence!

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  26. Mick -if you wish to waitt until I get my new PC in a week I can pass the link on to you.

    Thanks!
    I am not sure how a new PC will help you find the link, but I look forward to seeing it!
    Then we can find out if there is any truth in your statements.!

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  27. Mick – it is much easier to search “Open Parachute” on a PC than on an iPod. But you could do the search yourself if you were genuine.

    But really that is irrelevant to my question – just your way of avoiding it.

    What was your purpose in posting the video here? Simple question – and understandable because you did so without comment.

    But no skin off my nose. I am quite capable of drawing my own conclusions – especially as your avoidance provides extra evidence.

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  28. You have an article about the Paul Nurse doco on your blog which has nothing to do with my link. I can’t find any other articles about the BBC and Global Warming.

    Maybe there is some confusion?

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  29. Mick, go to https://openparachute.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/the-real-climate-change-swindle/. This is my article dealing with the original doco your video is taken from and a response to it.

    Meanwhile, you still can’t seem to explain why you posted that video. Perhaps you are just confused? Or maybe naive?

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  30. I haven’t seen the Great Global Warming Swindle, so I didn’t know that the bits of the interviews with the scientists in my video came from there.

    Why does this matter?
    I am confused.

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  31. I posted the video because somebody told me that there was a conspiracy to fool the public over global warming. I thought that my video proved this.
    I also heard that there was a secret conspiracy to form a world government and take over our country. I think I heard it from that Lord M whattisname.

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  32. OK Mick – enough said.

    Just have a look at the doco debunking the swindle film. And perhaps follow what climate scientists write instead of listening to the anti-science conspiracy theorists.

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  33. But aren’t those guys in my video climate scientists? Were their voices tampered with in the making of the video?

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  34. I haven’t seen the Great Global Warming Swindle, so I didn’t know that the bits of the interviews with the scientists in my video came from there.

    Then you really should watch the GGWS and then watch the debunking of the doco. That would be a reasonable thing to do.

    But aren’t those guys in my video climate scientists?

    If it’s important to you then that’s something you should look into. Which of those people are actual climate scientists and which of them are just “filler”?
    (Hint: Tim Ball)
    Another question you should ask yourself is does the doco accurately and fairly represent the the global scientific community on climate change?

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  35. Half Canadian

    Ken,

    I went to your prior post, and all I found was a general condemnation by Dr. Nodvin (no specific criticisms that could be verified, just general condemnation) and a link to google video that was dead.

    Do you have something specific, rather than a dead link and a blog that hasn’t been updated in 3 years?

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  36. Half Candian – you will have to be more specific.

    If you are talking about the Great Climate Change Swindle scam video go to this video link

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  37. @Half Canadian – you will have to be more specific.

    If you are talking about the Great Climate Warming Swindle Scam video go to this video link

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  38. What a pile from all you AGW BSers.
    Why no mention of all the cover ups and criminal alterations of data?
    The so called scientific community is only concerned with FUNDING.
    Maybe someone should ask Al Gore about his climate credit scam that just folded in Chi-town.

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  39. @FREE it’s not BS. We might be kidnapped by Aliens because of Global Warming

    Look, it’s in the Guardian, based on research between NASA and Penn State.

    Would they lie to us?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/aug/18/aliens-destroy-humanity-protect-civilisations

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  40. What a pile from all you AGW BSers.

    AGW BSers=NASA and every single scientific community on the planet.

    Why no mention of all the cover ups…

    Any cover up would have to be global, otherwise it wouldn’t work. Global conspiracies are a contradiction in terms. Let go of your paranoia.

    …and criminal alterations of data?

    Criminal? Name and give specific details of the crime instead of just waving your hands vaguely in the air. Report it to the police. Or admit you don’t know what you are talking about.

    The so called scientific community is only concerned with FUNDING.

    Yep, that’s what the moon landing deniers say too.

    We Never Went to the Moon: America’s 30 Billion Dollar Swindle – Bill Kaysing

    Deep fried dumb. Yet people exactly like you lap it up. Sad.
    NASA did not lie to you about the moon landings.
    NASA is not lying to you now about AGW.
    Conspiracy theories are for suckers.

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  41. At least Mick has found a friend!

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  42. NASA didn’t lie about the moon landings.
    NASA didn’t lie about global warming
    NASA didn’t lie about the space aliens

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  43. At least Mick has found a friend!

    Indeed! Someone for him to look up to.

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  44. What are we going to do about the aliens?
    What about the children?

    NASA wouldn’t lie to us.
    We need to do something!

    Like

  45. Richard Christie

    You won’t need to do anything Mick, you’ve already bought your tin foil hat.

    Like

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