By far the most entertaining part of this essay is its interactive game, “Hack Your Way to Scientific Glory.” Using real-life data, your goal is to prove that either Republicans or Democrats are better for the U.S. economy. (It’s not exactly hard to get whichever result you want.)
(It took me about 10 seconds to get a p < 0.01 result for each side. It took me much longer to line them up nicely in Photoshop, but these are the sacrifices I make for you.)
The piece is interesting too, so you might want to read it, although some of it may seem familiar if you’ve already read other “in defense of science despite its shortcomings” pieces recently. Still, the article deals with relevant issues: gaming the peer review system, unintentional (and intentional) p-hacking, retractions, negative results . . . and it features some good quotes by people who spend more time with science and peer review than I do.
“Science is great, but it’s low-yield. Most experiments fail. That doesn’t mean the challenge isn’t worth it, but we can’t expect every dollar to turn a positive result. Most of the things you try don’t work out — that’s just the nature of the process.”
Science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, “science operates as a procedure of uncertainty reduction . . . the goal is to get less wrong over time.”
Read the piece (and play the game) (and prove once and for all which U.S. political party is best) at fivethirtyeight.com.