HOW CAN WE SUPPORT AND INSPIRE EMPOWERING DISCOURSE ONLINE
The link above began a discussion on the new site leopea.com & I replied with the following:
The elimination of ignorance is indeed crucial but provision of information is itself problematic. The proliferation of massive amounts of freely available information on the Internet has provided unprecedented opportunities to both be informed & misled. Even for those schooled in scientific method, judging the quality of research is hampered by research misconduct & the failure of self-regulation to admit the extent of the problem or deal with it decisively. The assessment of evidence quality is a noble idea but in practice, lacks the tools required for the job. A good start would be mandatory lodging of all raw data underpinning research publications into a publicly accessible data repository, so that published analyses could be “fact checked”. Peer review of papers without raw data is frankly useless. Publication of withheld research must also be mandated, as currently 50% of research findings are withheld for pecuniary reasons. This black hole denies science from exerting its “self-correcting” function. To achieve the ability to accurately inform, the biggest obstacles are egocentrism, proprietorship over knowledge & reputation management over honesty. Deal with these issues & vastly improve the reliability of information & public trust will likely follow, with a consequent reduction in ignorance, an understanding of the importance of evidence in underpinning ones beliefs & hopefully, the development of a culture of rational debate, backed by evidence, rather than ideologically driven angry diatribes!
Data withholding and the next generation of scientists: results of a national survey. Vogeli C, Yucel R, Bendavid E, Jones LM, Anderson MS, Louis KS, Campbell EG. Acad Med. 2006 Feb;81(2):128-36.