Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Science Is Dead, But 'Science' Will Go On

Roger Pielke has a must read essay The Unstoppable Momentum of Outdated Science: 2024 Update, Much of climate research and policy is still based on implausible scenarios. Implementing a course correction is well overdue.

A 2015 literature review identified almost 900 peer-reviewed breast cancer studies that used a cell line derived from a breast cancer patient in Texas in 1976. But eight years earlier, in 2007, it was confirmed that the cell line that had long been the focus of this research was actually not actually the patient’s breast cancer line, but was instead a skin cancer line from someone else. Whoops! That means 900 meaningless studies in the literature — representing a huge waste of time, money and effort.

Even worse, from 2008 to 2014 — after the mistaken cell line was conclusively identified — the literature review identified 247 peer-reviewed articles published using the misidentified skin cancer cell line. My 2020 search of Google Scholar indicated that studies continued to be published that mistakenly used the skin cell line in breast cancer research.

The lesson from this experience is that bad science can have momentum and that momentum can be hard to change, even when obvious and significant flaws are identified. This is particularly the case when the flaws exist in databases that underlie research across an entire discipline.

In 2024, climate research finds itself in a similar situation to that of breast cancer research in 2007. Evidence indicates the scenarios of the future to 2100 that are at the focus of much of climate research have already diverged from the real world and thus offer a poor basis for projecting economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions. A course-correction is needed. 

Read the rest. 

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