What is Junk Science?

July 25, 2009

JUNK SCIENCE is a term used to describe the deliberate publication and promotion of flawed research, data, and claims that are generated and promoted – usually for financial or political gain.

Examples:

  • The healthcare industry uses junk science to market and sell expensive tests and procedures that have little or no value in the diagnosis or treatment of disease.
  • Attorneys use junk science to prosecute the innocent and defend the guilty.
  • Doctors use junk science to convince healthy people they are sick.
  • Politicians, university professors and teachers use junk science to promote political agendas.
  • The media use junk science to generate hysteria to market fake diseases, tests and treatments for their pharmaceutical and healthcare advertisers.  Media hysteria increases readership and viewership, sells advertising, and advances personal, organizational, social, and political agendas.
  • “Risk assessment” experts and lobbyists use junk science to defend their corporate clients.
  • Activists use junk science to support and promote their social and political agendas.
  • Government officials use junk science to expand their authority, increase budgets and advance political agendas.
  • Politicians use junk science to gain support from special interest groups, to be politically correct or to advance their own personal political beliefs.
  • Scientists and universities use junk science to achieve fame and generate revenue.

INCORRECT DATA IS NOT NECESSARILY JUNK SCIENCE 

The scientific method involves a process of trial-and-error until hypotheses are demonstrated and proven by transparent and verifiable means.  Flawed hypotheses become junk science when flaws are ignored or when cosmetically enhanced results are promoted as fact.

Of scientific consensus, Michael Crichton said:

“(T)he work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus… There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

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