Fake Science

After Donald Trump won the election, the Central Politburo of the Free Media© came up with the official interpretation of their defeat: Fake News™. People on Facebook were pasting news from shady sites saying that the Pope had endorsed Trump, and that led to Trump winning. Or something.

Now, I don’t know who came up with Fake News, but man, he struck a nerve. As a meme, Fake News is perhaps the biggest and most rapidly expanding one I’ve ever seen. It’s everywhere, the Left uses it to shit on Trump; the right uses it to shit on the Left. And not only in the West; go on any Asian internet forum and everybody is talking about Fake News this and Fake News that, translated to every language.

Now there’s a pattern to how memes expand. The same as words, really. They just serve a function. People adopt a new word usually because it fits in a mental pattern they already had, and it allows them to do something which is very useful. Some Cathedral honcho came up with Fake News for the sole reason to imply that Trump wasn’t a legitimate president; but the fact is people all over the world were already starting to understand that the news media wasn’t telling the objective truth. More often than not the media is just spinning facts in order to build a narrative for their own partisan political gain. Which is the very definition of the string “Fake News” as it is used today. CNN shits on Trump? Fake News. Fox News says something bad about the Democrats? Fake News. The NYT comes up with some corruption case about Xi Jinping’s advisors? 假新闻. Koreans come up with yet another sex slave from 1940? フェイクニュース. Somebody saw the King of Thailand fucking a dog? ข่าวปลอม.

So now that people understand what the news media is all about, and have a word to express it, it’s obvious that Fake News is here to stay. Which is a great thing; it’s quite accurate after all, even if Fake News gets thrown around to everywhere the enemy tribe says. What I don’t get is why the concept is yet to be extended to other extremely similar cases of content being sold as objective truth when it’s obviously just some story spun for political purposes. I’m talking of course of the scientific establishment. 90% of which is Fake Science. Global Warming? Fake Science. Social psychology? Fake Science. Economics? Fake Science. All of it.

Usually when some media apparatus or somebody on social media came up with some lame scientific paper and used it to justify anything, people who actually knew something about it would caution about Gell-mann amnesia. Which is a great concept to have. But it lacks the punch and ready accessibility of Fake Science. So let me propose that when any scientific article which isn’t about engineering or hasn’t been replicated n times and resulted in an actually workable and useful idea be deemed Fake Science. Just throw it around on Twitter, I think it’ll stick.

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28 Comments.

  1. Fake Science | @the_arv - pingback on June 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm
  2. Google gives 60 million hits already. Here’s Woit talking about Fake Physics (discussion on Hacker News), meaning the multiverse and string theory (as physics rather than mathematics).

    • It’s happening! But I won’t be content until I see フェイクサイエンス on 2ch.

    • And it’s a mere 386k hits when using quotes.

    • [My comment, which is not very witty, responds to Woit and cosmology. If that isn’t your thing, then you can just skip the comment; you won’t miss much.]

      I have followed your link, thanks. Regrettably, Woit’s argument seems weak to me. Woit’s argument seems to consist of little more than an appeal to ridicule.

      To my reading, the evidence Woit assembles (I have followed his links I, II and III) weighs heavier against his thesis than for it. Woit charges his adversaries with peddling clickbait, but what does he mean by that? Does he mean that a blog post on string theory has been advertised via a photo of a 19-year-old girl with a nice figure and the caption, “Date hot Laplacian women in your area.” Or does he just mean that ordinary persons with 115 IQs who will never be able to compute a Laplacian nevertheless occasionally find 15-minute, popular-science-level presentations on particle physics interesting?

      If the latter, that’s not clickbait.

      As it happens, though I know little about baryons, leptons and such I can at least compute a Laplacian (see, it was self-serving of me to mention those hot Laplacian women) and have even published a bit of science that is probably of little value to my fellow man (you might call it Fake Science; I’m not sure that I would disagree). Like Woit, I suspect that the current cosmological consensus in physics has overreached its narrow evidentiary foundation; but Woit wants a stronger presentation if he wishes to be taken seriously by serious men. Those cosmologists are probably substantially mistaken but they are too smart, too sincere and too knowledgeable to rebuff with mere impudence.

  3. Fake Science | Reaction Times - pingback on June 19, 2017 at 11:27 pm
  4. This is an interesting analysis which implies that something even more profound is going on; we are at a lull in the semantic cycle where previous useful terms like “ideological” have been diluted to meaninglessness and a new metaphorical modifier like “fake” was needed to take its place.

  5. News is inherently fake. If you have any urge at all to call it ‘the news,’ it’s a pack of lies. Has never not been true; I went and read a bit of the first newspaper.

    Science isn’t inherently fake. NSF science is almost inherently fake, though. It’s a testament to the character of the non-Merchant-caste scientists that any real science gets done.

  6. I read at least 20 years ago that economics was no more proven than shamans 200 years ago. It’s only as meaningful as we must believe they know what they’re doing and they are educated wise persons. Same for the social sciences. And modern health advice. It’s all about getting grants or writing a paper or books or a cushy government job , to too many of ’em. And of course, fake news writes up their stories based on these ‘findings” and “insights” and ‘projections”… heh

  7. I read at least 20 years ago that economics was no more proven than shamans 200 years ago. It’s only as meaningful as we must believe they know what they’re doing and they are educated wise persons. Same for the social sciences. And modern health advice. It’s all about getting grants or writing a paper or books or a cushy government job , to too many of ’em. And of course, fake news writes up their stories based on these ‘findings” and “insights” and ‘projections”… heh

  8. Fake science goes deeper and wider than people dare to think.
    The problem is, that there is no neutral battle arena for all the “respected scientists”, all the “crackpots” and all “the confused” to come and to win an argument. We lack such an infrastructure for a good reason — who is going to provide some necessary order on such a battleground? And who will write the history of those battles?

    I will just continue to cherry pick from many sources.

  9. Genetics ? Fake Science IQ Tests ? Fake Science Racial Crime Statistics ? Fake Science — We’re behind the times, they’re already doing it.

  10. Their wording is “debunked pseudoscience”. Way too much of a mouthful.

  11. “Fake American” is also pretty potent, if this post is to be believed.

  12. Ideological Propoganda by another name. Media as political narrative, no more nor less. When media bares it’s soul, rarely of it’s own volition, we shrug our shoulders. When science shows itself to be operating much the same we often act surprised as if science was somehow immune from political narrative.

    No amount of rigor nor stringent methodology was going to stave off the all evasive virus of the political. The reason being that science, as much as media, strives for over-forumulaization and conclusion. Alternatively an approach which leaves observations where they are, devoid of hypothesis, would work as a much needed disinfectant.

    An infection of the political is a sure sign that a particular field is suffering, a veritable canary in a coal mine. The political as a symptom, no more no less.

  13. Sometimes I think that you came up with the term “fake news”, heh.

    https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/real-news-and-fake-news/

  14. Did I pick up the idea of objective truths, social truths, and truthful lies from here? It’s a useful concept, and it’s clear that news media (gossip) and much of modern “science” are social truths at best.

  15. Now there’s a pattern to how memes expand. The same as words, really. They just serve a function. People adopt a new word usually because it fits in a mental pattern they already had, and it allows them to do something which is very useful.

    One of a very narrow array of functions.
    After all, resource acquisition, social status acquisition, and self-esteem boosting are the three functions shaping human brain activity.

    For normal people, granted

  16. This Week In Reaction (2017/06/25) - Social Matter - pingback on June 28, 2017 at 10:26 am
  17. “Fake news” was meaningful when it was used to refer to the Internet equivalent of the “Weekly World News,” i.e., fake stories about UFOs and Big Foot with readers who may have been in on the joke. Then the Cathedral got too clever by half, trying to “warn” everyone about the “danger” of Fake News. And now, thanks to Trump, Fake News means CNN!

  18. Fake Science is peer reviewed. | Dark Brightness - pingback on July 4, 2017 at 2:21 am

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