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Blog: Hilda Bastian, "A Cartoon Guide to Criticism: Scientist Edition"

Discussion in 'Research methodology news and research' started by Andy, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

    Hampshire, UK
    "Science is a profession where critique is integral to the work itself. So you might think we’d all have both criticizing, and handling being on the receiving end of it, down to a fine art. But you’d be wrong – as a rather spectacular recent blowout of norms by a prominent scientist reminded us. Sociologist Robert Merton pointed out in the 1960s that scientists also rely on the acceptance and recognition of their peers, so it’s no wonder things get heated.

    I spent several years moderating a high-profile forum for scientific criticism, and my position about this is still broadly similar to the one I described in PLOS Medicine in 2014: I think we need a much stronger post-publication culture in science. I’ve got some notes about that and my position in relation to this recent episode in the disclosures below this post.

    Let’s get straight to my (rather wordy) cartoon guide to science criticism – and you can always just skip through the headings and cartoons."


    [This blog touches on what is discussed here, Reconciling estimates of global spread and infection fatality rates of COVID‐19: an overview of systematic evaluations, 2021, Ioannidis, but as it also covers wider issues, I've posted it as a standalone thread.]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2021
  2. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    London, UK
    I like the cameo of Michael Sharpe.

    But is there much point in giving advice on how to behave nicely and rationally when the nice rational people always did and the problem is those who have no interest in that, and precious few who give such advice seem to practice what they preach.

    Why is it, I ask, that her supervisor, Paul Glasziou, is happy to trot out similar advice on being critical in science while at the same time co-authoring a Cochrane review that commits every crime in his book?

    Maybe there ought to be another cartoon of someone from a certain organisation saying 'we can tell you how to do everything properly, with reliable and trusted evidence every time'.
  3. NelliePledge

    NelliePledge Moderator Staff Member

    UK West Midlands
    This is possibly an excessively grumpy comment but how is this piece more important than addressing a review that is influencing health policy and contributing to pushing people into so called treatment that has already caused significant harms to patients.
  4. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

  5. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Nope, not excessively grumpy. Valid.

    Demonstrates the priorities better than we ever could.
  6. Blueskytoo

    Blueskytoo Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Was thinking this myself. Cartoons over people’s health, hmmm, it’s a tricky one to prioritise....
  7. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    @Hilda Bastian, your track record strongly suggests that you care about consumers of health systems.

    People with ME/CFS tend to be pretty understanding when people can't deliver things on time. We have all had to miss deadlines, and let people down. We know that can be unavoidable due to circumstances beyond the control of the person. And, for the most part, we have been understanding of the delay in the delivery of a report on the making of a new GET review.

    But, the fact that you have had time to make this good blog, complete with cartoons, suggests that it isn't a lack of your time that has caused the delay.

    Can you share with us any of the reasons for the delay? Has Cochrane decided to not move on the GET issue until the new NICE ME/CFS guideline is published? If Cochrane is paying you to prepare the report on a new ME/CFS exercise treatments review, have the funds been delayed? Are you aware of any pressure currently being applied to Cochrane to not remove the flawed Cochrane GET review and to not replace it with a more accurate one?

    Do you understand the ongoing consequences of that flawed exercise review continuing to be endorsed by Cochrane?

    Here's a quote from your blog:
    As you know, there's a bigger problem of course than unfairness in academic squabbles over who is right. That is the delay in understanding, the delay in the identification and promotion of truth. In the case of ME/CFS, these powerful academics are allowing faulty ideas to stand, harming hundreds of thousands of people around the world, most of whom have no idea about the ego-protecting actions of the proponents of GET for ME/CFS. They are also harming the idea that Cochrane stands for something good.
  8. Hilda Bastian

    Hilda Bastian Guest Guest

    Caroline Struthers and MEMarge like this.
  9. Hilda Bastian

    Hilda Bastian Guest Guest

    I agree that it would have been far better to report on reasons for the delay sooner - but those reports, including explanations of that, are in process. No, there is no connection with the NICE guidelines process, and neither external pressure nor internal political pressure is holding up the Cochrane review process. (On the subject of my working on other things: the Cochrane ME/CFS review was never going to be a full-time job for me.)
    Amw66, Michelle, MEMarge and 3 others like this.

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