Hundreds of thousands of scientists took to streets around the world in April. “We need science because science tells the truth. We are those who can fight the fake news,” a friend who participated in one of the March for Science rallies told me. I really wish this were true. Sadly, much evidence suggests otherwise.
The idea that the same experiment will always produce the same result, no matter who performs it, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to truth. However, more than 70% of the researchers, who took part in a recent study published in Nature have tried and failed to replicate another scientist’s experiment. Another study found that at least 50% of life science research cannot be replicated. The same holds for 51% of economics papers.
The findings of these studies resonate with the gut feeling of many in contemporary academia – that a lot of published research findings may be false. Just like any other information source, academic journals may contain fake news.
Some of those who participate in the March For Science movement idealise science. Yet science is in a major crisis. And we need to talk about this instead of claiming that scientists are armed with the truth.