The flashy crooks get the headlines, but the bigger problem is everyday routine bad science done by non-crooks

https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/07/29/the-crooks-get-the-headlines-but-the-real-problem-is-bad-science-done-by-non-crooks/

In the immortal words of Michael Kinsley, the real scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.

I was reminded of this principle after seeing this news article about the discredited Surgisphere doctor (see here for background).

The news article was fine—it’s good to learn these things—but, as with pizzagate, evilicious, and other science scandals, I fear that people are drawing wrong lesson from this story.

Yes, science has cheaters and frauds (as seems to be the case with the Surgisphere guy) as well as greedy operators who want the recognition without doing the work (as seems to be the case with the Harvard author of those papers). But I think the bigger problem is the general acceptance of bad work, as we discussed yesterday regarding that recent BMJ article.

All this focus on fraud, or “p-hacking,” or whatever is, I fear, a distraction from the larger problem of bad work by people who are sincere, but (a) don’t know what they’re doing, and (b) think that they’re experts.

Remember, honesty and transparency is not enuf.

P.S. Erik sends the above photo of Ocelot, who is still patiently waiting in his flowerpot for people to regularize their noisy estimates.