CONSEQUENCES OF BAD SCIENCE

We reproduce several articles dealing with bad science on this page. In Sri Lanka, examples of bad science abound. It is important for scientists to be alert to unfounded claims by “scientists” and those masquerading as scientist who get a ready press in this country. Some of the the consequences of bad science are well documented in the article by David Dickson in the Science and Development Network article reproducedhere.

You might say what harm is there in giving publicity to dubious claims by quack scientists if the mainstream scientific community does not promote them?

As counter-questions we would like to ask, would you give credence to a similar claim by a quack doctor claiming to have a miraculous cure for a severe disease that afflicts one of your family members? Or, would you invest your money on buying shares in a company such as Polipto (see Fellow Dr. Pethiyagoda’s letter below) that claims to convert polythene to diesel with a net gain in energy? Or, would you stop eating rice produced in Sri Lanka on the possibility that the claim made by one of our scientists that a “god” had revealed to him that Chronic Kidney Disease is caused by the existence of arsenic in rice in Sri Lanka is true?

And the list seems endless – predicting earthquakes by a study of the configuration of planets or by carrying out soil tests, running cars on water, economically producing petrol from straw, etc. etc. Perhaps Dr. P is right in accusing scientists of somnolence. When public money is invested in unproven hare-brained technologies, the public has a right to ask scientists to speak up. The greatest danger in our view is that science will be discredited by such claims and will cease to be an attractive profession for young people to follow.