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Is contemporary science a bubble about to burst?

“Science Bubbles,” a recent paper in Springer’s Philosophy and Technology suggests something like that:

Much like the trade and traits of bubbles in financial markets, similar bubbles appear on the science market. When economic bubbles burst, the drop in prices causes the crash of unsustainable investments leading to an investor confidence crisis possibly followed by a financial panic. But when bubbles appear in science, truth and reliability are the first victims. This paper explores how fashions in research funding and research management may turn science into something like a bubble economy.

Alarmism? Maybe, but the fall of psychiatry’s DSM-V, the fact that 47 of 53 landmark medical papers could not be replicated, and the widespread recognition that peer review is bust should not be ignored.

By themselves, one scandal a decade, these sinkholes might be nothing. Coming thick and fast, as in recent years, they don’t so much point to the question, does the system need reform, but… is it reformable? That’s usually when big changes start to happen.

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5 Responses to Is contemporary science a bubble about to burst?

  1. There is no such entity as science. Its just people thinking about stuff and conclusions being drawn as judged by someone.
    I see no difference in sciency things from woodworking.
    Its just knowledge and ideas and deciding what is true and works.
    so error is as likely as anywhere else.
    Science is not avoiding error and since its also about hypothesis therefore embarrassment occurs.
    If there is a scientific method then there shouldn’t be so much error and correction.
    Science is a verb and not a noun.

  2. What do you know? I actually agree with Byers @1. Science is just trial and error. There is nothing special about it. A baby learning how to talk or walk is a scientist and a damn good one, I might add. The idea that there is such a thing as a scientific method is pure fiction, a myth perpetrated by the elitists and con artists who have invaded science and turned it into another false religion above public scrutiny. The great science critic and philosopher of the 20th century, Paul Feyerabend, had this to say about the self-appointed high priests of science:

    [...] the most stupid procedures and the most laughable result in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down to size and to give them a lower position in society.

    Source: Against Method by Paul Feyerabend

    Science is like the San Andreas fault. The pressure builds up for decades but, sooner or later, something has to give. The next paradigm shift in science will be the big one. Wait for it. Boom.

  3. Science is nothing but seeking knowledge. It is not going to burst because seeking knowledge is fundamental to all human beings. Scientists are trained(or train themselves) in methods required to carry out exploration using set methods and that is why they are funded by Government and Private bodies hoping to gain knowledge which might lead to benefits to the society or the company funding the research. As long as there is hope of gaining new knowledge or profit or benefit, Science will continue to be funded. The most likely area which will stop receiving funds is basic sciences – like finding new particles. So we may not see another LHC or Voyage to distance planets any time soon.

  4. The last time we saw a science bubble burst was at the end of the last century. A bunch of self-appointed high priests of AI, following in the footsteps of one of their demi-gods, Alan Turing, decided that intelligence was just symbol manipulation. They promised machines with human level intelligence within a decade or two. That was the good old days of GOFAI (good old fashioned AI) and they gobbled up a lot of money for research. It was party time. They kept at it for almost 50 years and then the whole thing blew up in their faces. It was all a bunch of worthless crap from the get-go. GOFAI will not even be remembered as a footnote in the pages of science history.

    That was the scientific consensus on AI back then. Now there is a new AI consensus with a new religion called the Bayesian Brain. It has had a few notable successes but I predict this new AI bubble won’t last half as long as the previous one.

    Boom. Wait for it.

  5. Mapou
    It is just trial and error.
    The best they can say, and they can’t, is the SCIENCE isa higher standard of investigation that can DEMAND confidence in its conclusions.
    Yet the standard is just ordinary trial and error. LIke woodworking.
    Its just people thinking about things and then giving their proof.
    If it flies then its good proof. If its abstract then the proof is decided by committees. The latter is how evolutionary biology has stuck around despite no scientific evidence behind it. Rather no proof behind it.

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