​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

​Why Russia is planning to briefly disconnect from the internet

An upcoming experiment will test how well the nation can function on its internal internet.

(Photo: ALEXANDER UTKIN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Russia hopes to find out how smoothly it could transition to a self-contained internet in the event foreign actors tried to disconnect the nation from the rest of the internet.
  • The experiment will reportedly occur before April 1.
  • Russia's attempts to bolster its local internet infrastructure come in the wake of other nations accusing it of executing cyber attacks.
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“It’s all going down.” Why journalism is up in flames.

News doesn't sell. That's lethal to journalism – and democracy.

  • Apart from media giants like The New York Times and The Washington Post, nearly every news outlet is laying off journalists or collapsing completely.
  • The reason? No advertiser wants to put their ad next to serious, hard-edged news. Sensational content is favored by algorithms, and that isn't just annoying. It has terrifying consequences.
  • Journalists are the watchdogs of democracy. The more local news outlets and independent media disappear, the more those in power can do as they wish. Unreported scandals will fester and damage citizens. Corruption will go unchecked.
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Researchers fear 400 scientific studies used organs illegally harvested from Chinese prisoners

If a scientific study was conducted unethically, should publishers retract it?

Up to three hundred supporters of the practice of Falun Dafa march through the city center of Vienna, Austria on October 1, 2018 to protest against the importing of human organs from China to Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
  • A new study suggests hundreds of published scientific papers involving organ transplants in China violated ethical standards.
  • International professional standards say studies involving organ transplants shouldn't be published if the organs came from executed prisoners, or donors don't provide consent.
  • China has long been accused of facilitating a shady network of organ harvesting and trafficking, though it's been difficult to prove.
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We need disagreeable people to fix our dishonest institutions

Eric Weinstein suggests institutions need individuals who can pass two famous psychological tests.

Rebel Wisdom via YouTube
  • Eric Weinstein is a mathematician, economist and managing director of Thiel Capital.
  • In a recent interview with Rebel Wisdom, Weinstein spoke about the origins of the Intellectual Dark Web, and his theory of how our institutions are plagued by an "embedded growth obligation."
  • Disagreeable people, Weinstein says, could help institutions correct themselves.
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