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Bloggers Put Scientific Method To the Test 154

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the like-mythbusters-but-with-science dept.
ananyo writes "Scrounging chemicals and equipment in their spare time, a team of chemistry bloggers is trying to replicate published protocols for making molecules. The researchers want to check how easy it is to repeat the recipes that scientists report in papers — and are inviting fellow chemists to join them. Blogger See Arr Oh, chemistry graduate student Matt Katcher from Princeton, New Jersey, and two bloggers called Organometallica and BRSM, have together launched Blog Syn, in which they report their progress online. Among the frustrations that led the team to set up Blog Syn are claims that reactions yield products in greater amounts than seems reasonable, and scanty detail about specific conditions in which to run reactions. In some cases, reactions are reported which seem too good to be true — such as a 2009 paper which was corrected within 24 hours by web-savvy chemists live-blogging the experiment; an episode which partially inspired Blog Syn. According to chemist Peter Scott of the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, synthetic chemists spend most of their time getting published reactions to work. 'That is the elephant in the room of synthetic chemistry.'"
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Bloggers Put Scientific Method To the Test

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:23PM (#42652883)

    If you try to repeat an experiment and fail then it is almost impossible to get published. Failed experiments, though critical for advancing science, aren't sexy and editors prefer their journals to be full of positives. So scientists don't even bother trying anymore. This is a problem in medicine and probably all sciences. There is a movement in medicine to report all trials [alltrials.net] so they can be found by researchers doing meta-studies.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:56PM (#42653069)

    They are testing whether scientific papers meet the scientific method (ie. the results are reproducible). They are not testing the validity of the scientific method itself (myself, I cannot see how one could test the scientific method without using it, thus bringing the results into question).

    That is the point GP was attempting to make.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:13PM (#42653191) Homepage Journal

    The bloggers are not testing the scientific method, they are testing methods that are scientific

    Putting your ignorance in boldface type is amusing. The most basic promise of the scientific method is that results can be replicated by anyone with the proper equipment repeatedly and reliably

    And I am sorry that you struggle so greatly to understand what I have written.

    They are testing the scientific method insofar as asking whether professional and peer-reviewed scientific work actually meets this basic test.

    Do you not understand the purpose of peer-review? If results that were peer-reviewed are not reproducible, that is not a failing of the scientific method itself, nor is it a failing of peer review. Peer review does not exist to validate methods as that would be quite nearly an impossible task for the majority of all scientific papers that are published currently unless the journal sent an editor to the lab that submitted said paper to rerun the work themselves - which would be so absurdly expensive that nobody would ever pay to publish. Peer review is intended to make sure that work published is scientifically rigorous and well written.

    Hell, if you go back and actually read my comment - I would say re-read but it does not appear you read it successfully for a first time yet - you will find that I did say this work is important. I also said that it is not testing the scientific method itself, which is correct.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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