Simine Vazire (Professor, University of Melbourne)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Online ~ Zoom

"Where are the self-correcting mechanisms in science?"

We often hear the self-correcting mechanisms in science invoked as a reason to trust science, but it is not always clear what these mechanisms are.  Some quality control mechanisms, such as peer review for journals, or vetting for textbooks or for public dissemination, have recently been found not to provide much of a safeguard against invalid claims.  Instead, I argue that we should look for visible signs of a scientific community's commitment to self-correction.  These signs fall into two categories: transparency and critical appraisal. Transparency in the research and peer review process is vital, but not sufficient, for science to be self-correcting.  Transparency makes it possible for errors to be detected and corrected, but actual correction depends on the transparency being used for critical appraisal, such as error detection and quality control.  I argue that we should trust scientific claims more to the extent that they were produced by communities that have these hallmarks of credibility.  Fields that are more transparent, and have more support for critical appraisal should earn more trust.  Metascience can track these qualities of scientific fields and provide scientists and the public with valuable information in assessing the credibility of scientific fields.

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