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Forging a Head: The Upside of Scientific Hoaxes 201

An anonymous reader writes "In a very funny piece over at Science Careers (published by the journal Science), scientist-comedian Adam Ruben suggests that a lot of good can come from a well-intentioned hoax. 'Hoaxes have infiltrated science for centuries,' Ruben writes, 'from fake fossils (Piltdown Man, archaeoraptor, Calaveras skull) to fake medical conditions (cello scrotum, the disappearing blonde gene) to fake animals (Ompax spatuloides, Pacific Northwest tree octopus, Labradoodle).' In contrast to fraud, Ruben argues, such hoaxes do a great service to science by illustrating 'failures of our most important tool: our skepticism.'"
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Forging a Head: The Upside of Scientific Hoaxes

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  • Fake Dogs?!? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alcoholic Synonymous ( 990318 ) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @08:44AM (#35990052)


    Labradoodle's are fake? I bet all the Labradoodle owners would be shocked to learn their dogs are not real.

    Maybe the author should research before he declares what's real and what isn't. I mean, his bad science isn't actually helping here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:It goes both ways (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @09:15AM (#35990180) Journal

    Most skeptics reject everything outright

    Those people are not skeptics.

  • Re:Yes but (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arlet ( 29997 ) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @09:57AM (#35990366)

    There are relatively few scientists in the field of climate science that question global warming. There are certainly not 'thousands'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 01, 2011 @10:10AM (#35990418)

    Neither the tornado season nor any floodings are outside of historial norms. Don't let mass media educate you on science.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-04-tornadoes-climate.html [physorg.com]

  • Re:Yes but (Score:1, Informative)

    by sanzibar ( 2043920 ) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @11:02AM (#35990672)
    1. The scientists colluded in efforts to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests (across continents no less). They reference deleting data, hiding source code from requests, manipulating data to make it more annoying to use, and attempting to deny requests from people recognized as contributors to specific internet sites. Big brother really is watching you. Heâ(TM)s just not very good at securing his web site. 2. These scientists publicly diminished opposing arguments for lack of being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the background they discussed black-balling journals that did publish opposing views, and preventing opposing views from being published in journals they controlled. They even mention changing the rules midstream in arenas they control to ensure opposing views would not see the light of day. They discuss amongst themselves which scientists can be trusted and who should be excluded from having data because they may not be âoepredictableâ. 3. The scientists expressed concern privately over a lack of increase in global temperatures in the last decade, and the fact that they could not explain this. Publicly they discounted it as simple natural variations. In one instance, data was [apparently] manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed. Other discussions included ways to discount historic warming trends that inconveniently did not occur during increases in atmospheric CO2. 4. The emails show examples of top scientists working to create public relations messaging with favorable news outlets. It shows them identifying and cataloging, by name and association, people with opposing views. These people are then disparaged in a coordinated fashion via favorable online communities. would you like more...?
  • Re:Yes but (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @11:09PM (#35995086) Journal

    Until th deniers can put up peer reviewed research to discredit the current scientific consensus, then they are just part of the FUD.

    Wait a minute. Wasn't that whole climate-gate email scandal because scientists were trying to keep scientists who might disagree with them from getting their word out? Won't you simply accuse any scientist that shows that GW is not a problem or is not happening of spreading FUD and/or working for big oil or (insert evil company here)? So they prevent those that may disprove their work from getting published, attack and credibility and ridicule any who might get the word out otherwise and then use the fact that no published or credible work disagrees with them as proof that their work is correct.

    Of course, anyone who disagrees is immediately discredited simply by the very fact that they disagree. Here is a quote that proves it:

    However, you miss the fact that most deniers are also attacking science in general.

    See, those that disagree are labeled "deniers", as in they are denying the facts. And of course, simply by the fact that they question GW, they are "attacking science in general". In other words, they have no credibility as scientists because a real scientist wouldn't dare go against the "consensus".

    Also, "consensus" means nothing in science. Everything that science has proved wrong was once supported by a consensus. Science is not a democracy.

    Oil companies will lose their subsidies and tax breaks. Boo hoo. Perhaps then we will finally get a real sustainable energy policy and ditch oil crack habit.that will eventually drive us into the ditch. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.

    You do know that companies don't pay taxes, right? Companies, including oil companies, pass any increase in cost directly to their customers.

    Your post is a fine example of what I like to call environmental hypocrisy. You will fight tooth and nail to not do so much as take your shoes off to get on airplane. You will fight to the death for the right to not carry an ID card. However, because you believe that there will be an energy shortage one day, you want government to create an artificial shortage today. It doesn't matter that we have enough energy to last us for hundreds of years, you wish to create an artificial shortage by limiting the amount of energy we may produce domestically and you actually believe that it will somehow make us import less. People like you are so happy to punish those who use more than you that you lose your ability to think logically. You really don't care that you have to pay more for food and transportation as long as you know that the rich guy in the SUV has to pay more also. You are happy to make someone else suffer for their lifestyle, simply because you don't like it. And when you see that mother of two have to tell her kids that they can't afford to go to Grandma's house because gas is too expensive, you comfort yourself by saying, “we all have to make sacrifices in order to create the world that I want to live in. Besides, they can see Grandma on Facetime.”

    The best part? You accuse others of using fear to force the people to change the way they do things and then turn around use fear to force others to change the way they live their lives. It means nothing to you that real people have really died due to terrorism, and that terrorists really do want to kill more people, you see climate change as a bigger threat even though exactly zero people have died due to global warming, and that climate change has happened since the beginning of time. You want government to force me to live my life the way YOU think I should live it, even though, and I use your words, “There aren't any scientists out there saying we can stop climate change. We passed that point a long time ago. We can only reduce the impact and prepare.”

    You won't remove your shoes to stop terrorists from killing the innocent, but you will gladly pay more for your life just to keep me from taking my little girl away from the city lights to see the rings of Saturn through her new telescope.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.