Top journal 'Science': 2,600 of its papers may have 'exaggerated claims'

August 23, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A number is a number and a temperature is a temperature. As a meter is a meter and a gallon of water is a gallon of water.

Such science is specific and exact.

But the conclusions that scientists draw from their multitude of research projects, such as the often-repeated claim of the human causes for global warming as "settled science," are less so, according to a new report.

It's because scientists in recent years have been discontinuing their use of "hedging" statements that qualify black-and-white conclusions.

Those statements that used to be routine in scientific papers often found that "it appears" that this is the result, or "it looks like" something is the end result.

It is Just the News that is reporting the government-funded American Association for the Advancement of Science's journal, "Science," may have unleashed some 2,600 faulty research papers.

That publication confirmed it is now reviewing that number of its own articles for possible "exaggeration."

Just the News reported it was another journal, Scientometrics, that looked at those articles from "Science," and found that from 1997 to 2021, the use of "hedging" words plunged by 40%.

The report explained that practice involves using language such as "could" or "appear to" that something produces a result, rather than sounding absolute.

The newer review noted that in 1997, there were about 115.8 hedging examples per 10,000 words. But by 2021, there were only 67.42.

Even the news division at Science said the change could suggest "a worrisome rise of unreliable, exaggerated claims."

Even worse, it could indicate that study authors are utilizing "a subtle strategy" that solves selling their results "to editors and readers as an alternative to explicit exaggeration."

Just the News explained the non-profit Influence Watch confirmed, "the federal government is the largest identifiable source of funding for AAAS," with annual contributions of $3.3 million.

Among its recent campaigns, AAAS in 2020 promoted scientists "who steadfastly insisted that questions regarding COVID-19 coming from the Wuhan lab was merely 'a conspiracy theory,'" the report said.

That, of course, now is widely accepted as probable.

Just the News explained social psychologist Melissa Wheeler noted it is important to recognize what data says, and what "it merely implies."

"If academic writing becomes more about the rhetoric ... it will become more difficult for readers to decipher what is groundbreaking and truly novel," she said.

Science executive editor Valda Vinsion said perhaps the change is because authors are being asked to provide more evidence.

"We tone down language if it comes across as definitive when [the evidence] is not," she said.

The new review was done by Nanjing University linguist Ying Wei and others.

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