Science: why is it letting us down when we need it most? + 10 Black female scientists

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We rely on science. Why is it letting us down when we need it most?

EXCERPTS: Science is suffering from a replication crisis. Too many landmark studies can’t be repeated in independent labs, a process crucial to separating flukes and errors from solid results. The consequences are hard to overstate: Public policy, medical treatments and the way we see the world may have been built on the shakiest of foundations.

[...] It’s important to note that failure to replicate doesn’t imply misconduct on the part of the original researchers but it does call into question their conclusions, and other research that relied on them.

[...] Science shouldn’t be like this. The scientific record is supposed to be a clear, complete document of what scientists have done. If other researchers struggle to even attempt to replicate a study, there’s been a major breakdown in scientific communication.

The fact that papers are written and published with such scant, insufficient detail reveals how little the system cares about replication. In fact, surveys of psychology, education,economics and criminology research estimate that no more than 1% of all studies in those fields are explicit replications. Perhaps a look at “harder” sciences would find less discouraging results, but to my knowledge no such surveys have been performed.

Scientists care so little for replication because it doesn’t advance their careers. Why run such a study, double-checking someone else’s work, when you could run your own entirely new, exciting experiment? Why focus on carefully adding to an established line of research when what distinguishes you to university tenure committees and to journal editors is a flashy, unique finding?

Breaking science’s addiction to novelty will take serious effort on multiple fronts. But the story of the memory-rewriting replication study offers some hope. [...] If scientists are rewarded with much-coveted publication credits for running replications and for long-form critiques of each other’s work, it will help rebalance the broken system of incentives... (MORE - details)

RELATED: Publish or perish .... Academic integrity .... Bending science ... Publication bias

10 Black female scientists everyone should know about

INTRO: Grace Blackshaw explores the work of ten Black female scientists you might not have heard of, but definitely should have... (MORE, in detail)

  • Marie Maynard Daly was an influential biochemist and the first Black woman to earn a PhD in Chemistry in the US.

  • Wangari Maathai was a biologist, environmental activist, and the first woman in Africa to earn a PhD.

  • Patricia Bath is an inventor and ophthalmologist.

  • Shirley Ann Jackson is an influential American physicist.

  • Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu is a British nurse and professor at the University of West London.

  • Alexa Canady was the first black female neurosurgeon in the US.

  • Francisca Okeke is a Nigerian physicist and the first female Head of Department at the University of Nigeria.

  • Best known as the first Black woman to travel to space, Mae Carol Jemison is an American engineer, physician and astronaut.

  • Kathleen Okikiolu is a renowned British mathematician.

  • Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a British space scientist and science communicator.

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