By Paul Barnett
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Additional info for Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology and Politics in Science
The same vulnerability in our social structure is of course exploited alike by the hoaxer, the forger, the con artist, the trickster, the prankster, the dissembling politician, the religious fundamentalist (and indeed the self-styled prophet), the television evangelist, the propagandist, and the straightforward liar. Often the efforts of these assorted crooks are to harmless and/or humorous effect but sometimes, as per the Protocols, they have enormously damaging consequences; various political and media denials concerning imminent catastrophic climate change, for example, may spell the collapse of human civilization.
This is sometimes accomplished in astronomical observations by calculating the time and circumstances of the phenomenon from tables. The observations of the second comet of 1784, which was only seen by the Chevalier D’Angos, were long suspected to be a forgery, and were at length proved to be so by the calculations and reasonings of Encke. The pretended observations did not accord amongst each other in giving any possible orbit. . Fortunately instances of the occurrence of forging are rare. TRIMMING consists in clipping off little bits here and there from those observations which differ most in excess from the mean, and in sticking them on to those which are too small; a species of “equitable adjustment,” as a radical would term it, which cannot be admitted in science.
A year after Burt’s death, however, the Princeton psychologist Leon J. Kamin (b1927) observed that Burt’s figures on the identical twins seemed too good to be true; Burt’s earlier average correlation of IQs between the pairs, when he had been working with only about 20 pairs, matched to the third decimal place the average he claimed later, when supposedly working with over 50 pairs. The chances of this happening in reality are statistically close to zero. Kamin also noted some vital logistic details missing from the experimental reports; for example, who had actually administered particular tests.