How Science Goes Wrong
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's frankenstein's-monster,-skynet,-and-bacon-perfume department
dryriver sends this article from the Economist:"A simple idea underpins science: 'trust, but verify'. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying — to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 'landmark' studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties. Even when flawed research does not put people's lives at risk — and much of it is too far from the market to do so — it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world's best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising."Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's brush-those-axons department
sciencehabit writes "Every night since humans first evolved, we have made what might be considered a baffling, dangerous mistake. Despite the once-prevalent threat of being eaten by predators, and the loss of valuable time for gathering food, accumulating wealth, or having sex, we go to sleep. Scientists have long speculated and argued about why we devote roughly a third of our lives to sleep, but with little concrete data to support any particular theory. Now, new evidence (abstract, full text paywalled) has refreshed a long-held hypothesis: During sleep, the brain cleans itself."
During sleep, the Cerebrospinal fluid fills channels in the brain, collecting waste products. It uses a lot of energy, leading to the hypothesis that the brain can't clean up waste while also processing sensory input.Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's congress-blames-lazy-workers department
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Time Magazine reports that according to an estimate from Standard & Poor's, the government shutdown, which ended with a deal late Wednesday night after 16 days, took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. The breakdown includes about $3.1 billion in lost government services, $152 million per day in lost travel spending, $76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, and $217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers bore the economic brunt of the shutdown but small businesses also suffered from frozen government contracts and stalled business loans. With the deal only guaranteeing government funding through January 15, the situation could grow worse. 'This is a real corrosion on the economy,' says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. 'If we have to go down a similar road in the near future, the costs are going to continue to add up.'"Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's later-found-with-knees-broken department
hypnosec writes "The MPAA and Gary Fung, owner of IsoHunt.com, have settled their case out of court, with the torrent indexing site closing as part of the deal. The judge presiding over the MPAA vs. IsoHunt.com case, Jacqueline Chooljian, canceled the hearing which was planned after she was informed that both the parties have settled outside court. 'The website isoHunt.com today agreed to halt all operations worldwide in connection with a settlement of the major movie studios' landmark copyright lawsuit against the site and its operator Gary Fung' reads the press release."
Only a few days after the MPAA was accosted by the judge
for seeking damages several times the total worth of isoHunt: "But if you strip him of all his assets — and you’re suggesting that a much lesser number of copyright infringements would accomplish that, where is the deterrence by telling the world that you took someone’s resources away because of illegal conduct entirely or 50 times over?" Still, the settlement seems unfair: The MPAA has asked the court for $110 million
, when the MPAA itself admitted that isoHunt only has $5 or $6 million.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's when-it-rains-it-pours department
llebeel writes "Canonical announced its free Ubuntu 13.10 Linux operating system (OS) release, on the same day as Microsoft's remedial Windows 8.1 service pack update. We speak to Canonical founder and Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth who tells us what to expect."
Adds reader jrepin: "Kubuntu Linux 13.10 has just been released and is available for download. It comes with KDE Software Compilation 4.11, a new application for discovering and installing software, a simpler way to manage your system users. and a new Network Manager applet gives a simpler UI for connecting to a range of network types. You can now setup Wifi networking from the installer making it easier to install updates and extra packages during the install."
ZDNet has a fairly tepid review
of the incremental rather than startling improvements of the new release, and notes "Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, due for release on 17 April next year, will now perhaps come as even more of a shock if its promised big changes are fully realised."Read Replies (0)