Stupid paper #1: Highly educated researchers can’t understand why people who observe that their government has lied to them, don’t trust that government.
In last week’s post, I introduced the thesis of Steve Patterson – that we have been living in a dark age since at least the early 20th century, because the sloppy thinking of intellectuals of the last hundred years or so has produced “shockingly bad ideas” which, instead of being knocked out by much better ideas (produced by rigorous thinking), were embraced by all the institutions of power and hence became orthodoxy.
Given the astounding technological progress of the 20th and 21st centuries, the idea that we’re living in a dark age is confounding, to say the least. Could we really have progressed so much as a species if most of what we think we know is wrong? But as Patterson points out, the vast improvements in our standard of living are largely attributable to the achievements of engineers, not scientists:
“The progress of engineers cannot be denied, though it’s a mistake to conflate the progress of scientists with the progress of engineers.”
Is Patterson correct that the vast majority of published scientific work is “embarrassingly wrong”? In the next few posts, I’m going to walk you through several recently-published papers that passed the supposedly rigorous peer-review process and appeared in high impact journals. You can be the judge of whether these examples of scientific output are in line with Patterson’s thesis.