How to Detect Bullshit

Dr Elisabeth Bik

How to detect BS in scientific papers 

Even after peer-review and publication, science papers could still contain undetected errors or even fraudulent data. In addition, authors might have undisclosed conflicts of interest, false affiliations, or hidden agendas. If not addressed post-publication, papers containing incorrect or even falsified data could lead to wasted time and money spent by other researchers trying to reproduce those results. In this talk, I will show several examples of research papers containing problematic and fraudulent data, fake affiliations, predatory journals, and paper mill productions.

Dr Elisabeth Bik is a science integrity consultant who specializes in finding image duplications in scientific papers. After receiving her PhD in Microbiology at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, she worked 15 years at the Stanford University School of Medicine and two years at two microbiome startup companies, after which she left her job to become a science integrity volunteer and occasional consultant. She has reported over 4,000 papers for issues with image duplication or other concerns. Her work has been featured in Nature, Science, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Le Monde, and The Times (UK). In April 2021 she was awarded the Peter Wildy Prize by the UK Microbiology Society for her contributions in science communication.

Dr Stuart Ritchie

Correcting bad scientific research

There are few more thankless tasks than trying to correct bad research. Although we all hope that the scientific literature is an as-objective-as-possible record of research, and that it contains built-in mechanisms for self-correction, we all know that (a) research can still be suffused with biases, careless errors – and worse; and (b) it often takes an absurd amount of time for that self-correction process to work. In this talk, I’ll discuss some of the attempts I’ve made over the years to correct objective errors in scientific papers, discuss my varying degrees of success, and describe the–often quite dispiriting–lessons I’ve learned. 

Dr Stuart Ritchie graduated with a PhD in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh in 2014 and has held a Lecturer position at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London since 2018. His research primarily focuses on the development of cognitive abilities and the causes and consequences of cognitive differences between individuals. He is the author of ‘Intelligence: All That Matters’ (2016) and ‘Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth’ (2020) and was awarded the 2015 Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science.

Follow us on Twitter @CISMA_Colloquia.

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