Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth Hardcover – Illustrated, July 21, 2020
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Ask Alexa to read your book with Audible integration or text-to-speech.
Inspire a love of reading with Prime Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children's books with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new customers receive 15% off your first box. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“A highly readable and competent description of the problems facing researchers in the 21st century... An excellent primer for anyone who wants to understand why and how science is failing to live up to its ideals.”
“An impressive achievement... A handy guide to what can go wrong in science, nicely blending eye-popping anecdotes with comprehensive studies.”
“An unnerving yet much-needed analysis... Frighteningly well-documented... A timely, hair-raising must-read.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Liberally documented with amazing stories... An uncompromising examination of the collision between the ideals of science and the realities of scientific publishing. Highly recommended for popular science readers curious about what lurks behind science headlines.”
―Library Journal (starred review)
“A bracing indictment... Thorough and detailed, this is a sobering and convincing treatise for anyone invested in the intellectual credibility of science.”
“Excellent... A fascinating study... Sure, some scientists are corrupt. Some are negligent. Some are biased. But that does not mean we need less science. It means we need better science. That’s why books like this are so important.”
―Evening Standard (London)
“We should listen to this warning about how neophilia and hype is ruining research... Ritchie has a gift for turning boring statistical processes into thrilling detective stories.”
―The Times (London)
“A desperately important book. Stuart Ritchie’s much-needed work brilliantly exposes the fragility of the science on which lives, livelihoods, and our whole society depend. Required reading for everyone.”
―Adam Rutherford, author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived
“An engagingly accessible set of cautionary tales to show how science and scientists can be led astray, in some instances with fatal consequences, as well as a clear-eyed and chillingly accurate view of how current funding and publishing practices are leading to more of the same mistakes. As we rely now more than ever on science to solve the world’s problems, Science Fictions should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in the communication of science to policy makers and to the public.”
―Gina Rippon, author of The Gendered Brain
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250222699
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250222695
- Product Dimensions : 6.37 x 1.21 x 9.82 inches
- Publisher : Metropolitan Books; Illustrated Edition (July 21, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In addition to the big ideas, the book tells lots of stories that make it fun to read. The author is very thoughtful and never tries to overgeneralize.
All scientists should read this book to get an overview of what the reproducibility crisis is all about. Nonscientists will find it interesting too. The author is careful to write in clear language and define technical terms. Although the author is a psychologist, he includes plenty of examples from biology and physics. The book is general about science, not just about psychology.
I read it on a Kindle, which was fine. The tables and figures were all easy to read on a Kindle. One thing to know is that while most of the footnotes are simply citations, about a third of them are author notes, some quite lengthy. In fact, the notes fill close to a third of the pages.
The bulk of the book discusses other issues such as replication failures, errors, statistical malpractice, gaming and bad incentives. My biggest gripe is that the author does not even mention, let alone reply to, people who disagree with him. You'd think a guy who spends 352 pages lecturing everyone else on honest reporting of results in all their messy reality would take his own medicine. There is a huge literature on the questions the author discusses, much of it opposing his analysis, but no dissenting voices are mentioned in the text or cited in the notes.
Another issue is the discussion applies to a small sliver of science, but is presented as having broad application. In most fields, Ernest Rutherford's attributed dictum applies, “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Published results either do not depend on statistics at all, or significance values too low to worry about. In most fields that can only produce results of marginal statistical significance, investigators only test hypotheses for which there is strong theory and prior evidence to believe true.
The author's discussion applies mainly to fields like nutrition where there is little prior reason to think factors like "eating more potatoes" are either good or bad for you, and there are so many confounding factors and so much measurement uncertainty that the sample sizes required for meaningful answers are impractical. I would argue that testing essentially random hypothesis on inadequate data really isn't experimental science in the first place. I would call it an exploratory initial effort to understand things well enough that useful experiments can be run. Just as hard cases make bad law, fields in which meaningful experiments are hard to run in the first place are not the right examples to think about problems and solutions for all of science.
One example of this unmentioned assumption is the author's insistence, without discussion, that null results should be published with the same attention as positive results. So if Kepler had published Epitome Astronomiae in a journal, using Tycho Brache's exceptionally accurate measurements to establish heliocentric astronomy, the journal should have also published articles by hundreds of traditional astronomers asserting that their (inferior) data could not reject the Ptolemaic system.
The author's implicit assumption is that the only difference between a positive and null result is random statistical noise. But good scientists get positive results by carefully considering which hypotheses to test and using rigorous methodology to minimize noise. Many null results come from less careful workers.
Of course, a negative result should be published. That is, if one investigator finds strong evidence for a hypothesis, another investigation finding strong evidence, or even moderate evidence, against the hypothesis should merit publication. But a null finding, an experiment that is consistent both with the hypothesis and its alternative, is generally of little value. A confirming result is of some value, of course, but mainly if it adds something to the original. For example, if the original had marginal statistical significance, more data supporting the same result is useful. Or if the new result changes some of the original paper's conditions--perhaps is done on different kinds of subjects--it adds to the credibility. But an exact replication of a study that was already well done and did not rely on statistics or had extreme significance, is only useful as a check against fraud.
My final objection is the author lets his political opinions creep into the book, which is inappropriate when "bias" is one of his declared enemies. He cheerfully and without comment inverts his principles for climate change and police shootings, and he dismisses without discussion positions considered anti-scientific like objections to GMOs or combination single-strain vaccines.
I'm not taking the opposite side of these issues from the author, but I do think he should apply the same standards to all questions, or explain the differences. My guess is that the author thinks there are some topics that should be off-limits to lay public discussion because the damage from people taking the wrong position outweighs his general preference for openness and rational discussion. But this position is not stated nor defended.
Overall, I can't recommend this book to anyone. If you're well-read in this field, you won't find enough new to be worth the effort. If you're not well-read in this field, the one-sided and narrow account is a poor introduction. I will say that there's nothing false in the book, and it's reasonably pleasant to read. You will learn some things and, if you keep in mind that there's another side to the case, you might find the book useful.
Superbly organized, argued, documented. Lucidly explained and beautifully written. Ritchie also points toward fixes along the way, and concludes with some analysis of possible systemic improvements as well as general good versus bad practices.
Disclosures: None. I'm a curious reader with no connection to the author, etc.
My U.S. printing has a few slightly smudged entire pages, in the range of 23-54 (some).
Top reviews from other countries
A must read especially when we are inundated With conflicting Covid information
He takes a dry complicated subject ,statistics and Gives an easily understandable and entertaining
Description of some of the pitfalls in modern science.
I I’ve been a physician for over 45 years and this is the best book on the scientific method that I’ve ever read