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Letters: Not all science is created equal

October 30, 2013

Re "Science has lost its way, costing all of us," Column, Oct. 27

As a retired research chemist, I agree with Michael Hiltzik's findings of duplicity and slipshod work in peer-reviewed papers. In that respect, his effort is on the mark. But the headline implies that all sciences are similarly corrupted.

At a time when major attacks on well-established science are obvious, reason and facts speak for themselves.

One example is the age of the Earth. Despite volumes of peer-reviewed research showing the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, biblical fundamentalists still attack the science. And allies of the fossil fuel industry viciously attack the science of climate change.

But their assaults have been countered by thousands of verified documents. Hiltzik should have noted the corrective ability of verified science.

Emil Lawton

Sherman Oaks

Hiltzik's column was good but also overly negative.

The imperfect peer-review system is the best thing developed so far to share scientific information. As unintentionally demonstrated, the system is self-correcting over time. The high-quality journals do a good job separating the wheat from the chaff, but I think fake journals publishing the chaff are becoming a larger problem.

A basic tenet of science is reproducibility of results; without that, it is just an interesting experiment. No company would invest millions without confirming the data. Bringing a pharmaceutical drug to market is risky; neglecting the scientific fundamentals would be corporate suicide.

I also think the media bear some blame for presenting studies without context. Journalists also need to learn the basic tenet of reproducibility of results.

Richard Green



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