The big problems facing science and how they can be tackled

The seven biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists, are examined in an article (here) at

Vox reporters covering medicine, psychology, climate change, and other areas of research, set out to understand what they call an “epidemic of doubt” about the very institution of science.

They sent scientists a survey asking one simple question:

If you could change one thing about how science works today, what would it be and why?

They heard back from 270 scientists from all over the world who told them that, in a variety of ways, their careers are being hijacked by perverse incentives. The result is bad science.

The resultant Vox report says:

The scientific process, in its ideal form, is elegant: Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat. Science is rarely practiced to that ideal. But Copernicus believed in that ideal. So did the rocket scientists behind the moon landing.

But nowadays, our respondents told us, the process is riddled with conflict. Scientists say they’re forced to prioritise self-preservation over pursuing the best questions and uncovering meaningful truths.

Kathryn Bradshaw, a 27-year-old graduate student of counselling at the University of North Dakota, said she felt torn between asking questions she knew would lead to statistical significance and asking questions that matter.

The Vox article continues:

Today, scientists’ success often isn’t measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It’s instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

AgScience blog readers can check out the seven biggest challenges facing science, and how to fix them, here –

  • Academia has a huge money problem
  • Too many studies are poorly designed
  • Replicating results is crucial — and rare
  • Peer review is broken
  • Too much science is locked behind paywalls
  • Science is poorly communicated
  • Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

  • The encouraging conclusion is … 

    Science is not doomed


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