Differences among junk science, scientific fraud and mistakes in science
1. What is meant by junk science?
Junk Science is typically used as a weapon against gullible people to obtain recognition and/or compensation for something that is not valid. Typically the media, politicians, lawyers and even government officials will use unfounded and skewed data to sensationalize a particular scenario to push an agenda for some ulterior motive. For example, a Pharmaceutical company might try to say that a particular disease is caused by say not covering your ears in the wind. They might take this information from data that shows some slightly significant correlation between working in windy conditions and getting ear infections more than 3 times a year. The junk science perpetrators thrive on sensational headlines and finding new ways to trick people with "data" that cannot be replicated nor explained by peer review. It is essentially taking data and finding correlations that do not actually exist or completely fabricating data to support a claim.
2. What is meant by scientific fraud?
Scientific fraud is outright faking or fabricating results. It could be using improper techniques in the lab to using extreme bias when selecting test subjects for a study. It is essentially done by scientists or corporations paying researchers to use faulty data or practices. Junk science usually involves a lot of scientific fraud.
3. Are the first two different from mistakes in science? How? Junk science and scientific fraud are certainly different from mistakes in science. Mistakes in science are not dubious. Now, several people might pretend that they made a mistake if the general public started to realize that data was misrepresented, and proving that it was intentional might be difficult. However, it doesn't mean they are similar. No, there is a big difference to accidently mixing a chemical and forming a new substance that has some unique and beneficial property, than to say that you were able to use a few rags and the absence of light in your supply closet and generate new life forms.
4. What are or were N-rays? Was this a case of junk science, scientific fraud, or mistakes in science? Justify your answer.
N- Rays were "discovered" by scientist René Prosper Blondlot, and reported in 1903. These rays were thought to be another type of radiation, named after Blondot's hometown of Nancy (aps.org). These N-rays were observed and thought to be a type of light form that could be polarized, reflected and refracted. These rays were supposedly viewed through various experimental processes, where he might use phosphorescent coating which supposedly glowed brighter when hit by the N-rays. Many other scientists throughout this time also believed they saw these N-rays and were doing more research on them. For instance rays were found to be blocked by water, yet would pass through wood and metals. They were supposedly emitted by the sun, gas burners, and metals and could be stored in a brick or transmitted through wire. Other scientists fell on the band wagon as well, claiming that rays were emitted by the human brain, muscles, nerves, and even frogs . One particular scientist, Robert wood, was skeptical of these N-rays and could not replicate them. He was invited to France to observe the N-ray experiments. In the experiments, Blondot used an aluminum prism to spread out a spectrum of N-rays. The experiments also had to occur in a darkened room, perfect for Wood to remove the aluminum prism and request that Blondot repeat the experiment for validity. When Blondot still insisted on continuing to see the same results after the crucial prism was removed and of course Wood published the fraudulent N-ray debacle and Blondot was ruined (cs.princeton.edu). Wood soon became convinced that the scientific community may have been imagining the phenomenon. Even after being humiliated as a fraud, Blondot still insisted that he...
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