The Angry UFOlogist

Science in the Hands of Scientists: The Meandering Path Toward Truth

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As a discipline, science aspires to be an evidence-based, non-partisan tool for revealing truth. But science is carried out by scientists, human beings like the rest of us, subject to pressures, preconceptions, and biases. What are the external, non-scientific forces that impact scientific research? Does the current research structure drive focus away from unbiased exploration? What lessons can we draw from the recent crisis of reproducibility afflicting some research areas? In this program, experts discuss the myriad factors scientists face in a highly competitive environment as they seek to uphold and advance the ideals of scientific exploration.

PARTICIPANTS: Dany Spencer Adams, Mariette DiChristina, Ivan Oransky, Massimo Pigliucci

MODERATOR: Carl Zimmer


This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

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- Participant Introduction 01:16

- How do students learn to be scientists? 02:40

- Confirmation bias 04:00

- What is the job market like for new scientists? 09:00

- Confirmation bias and metricization in journalism 11:25

- Federal funding decline and impact on labs 13:28

- Role of publishing's effect on science 15:00

- The process of grant writing in science 17:45

- The influence of grants on conducted science 21:50

- Scientists lobbying Congress for funding 24:00

- How research funding in the US is different from the rest of the world 26:48

- What is Retraction Watch and scientific retraction? 31:55

- Falsification 35:55

- Structure of scientific paper 40:10

- Replicating other scientists work 42:50

- Importance of citation 43:34

- Are journalists the problem with science? 48:30

- What do scientists think about journalists 56:10

- Is scientific truth relative? 1:01:53

- Is there a way to incentivize the reproduction of scientific work? 1:03:20

- How important is the discussion section on a paper? 1:08:00

This program was filmed live at the 2017 World Science Festival and edited for YouTube.

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