Friday, March 31, 2006

How to spot bogus science

There is a great, free article in the Chronicle of Higher Education from back in 2003 that has just come to my attention, about how to spot bogus science. The article is by Bob Park, who writes a weekly "What's New" column that used to grace the APS webpage.

This is an important read, particularly as there seems to be a steady flux these days of news items that seem pretty weird to me. For example, these folks are a bunch of cold fusion advocates, who last week put out a big press release about how happy they are that Martin Fleischmann is joining their product development team. For another example, take this announcement by the European Space Agency that their researchers think they've spotted a funny gravitomagnetic effect near rotating (low Tc) superconductors. The data look pretty marginal to me, and I think it's pretty indicative that on the one hand they put out a big, glossy press release, while on the other hand they submitted the paper to Physica C. I don't want to knock Physica C too badly, but they aren't exactly a high impact journal. At least the ESA researchers are using the peer-reviewed literature, though, and seem to be reasonably careful. They need to be, though - they're claiming big deviations from general relativity, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

2 comments:

2010 Kia Forte parts said...

I don't want to knock Physica C too badly, but they aren't exactly a high impact journal.

Jackson said...

Thank you..