There's No Such Thing As 'Sound Science'

12/6/2017 - Associate Professor of Psychology Alison Ledgerwood at FiveThirtyEight.

Science is being turned against itself. For decades, its twin ideals of transparency and rigor have been weaponized by those who disagree with results produced by the scientific method. Under the Trump administration, that fight has ramped up again.

Contrary to how it’s sometimes represented to the public, science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, it’s a process of uncertainty reduction, much like a game of 20 Questions. Any given study can rarely answer more than one question at a time, and each study usually raises a bunch of new questions in the process of answering old ones. “Science is a process rather than an answer,” said psychologist Alison Ledgerwood of the University of California, Davis. Every answer is provisional and subject to change in the face of new evidence. It’s not entirely correct to say that “this study proves this fact,” Ledgerwood said. “We should be talking instead about how science increases or decreases our confidence in something.”

Read the full story at FiveThirtyEight.

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