Posted by: A. C. Cockerill | August 19, 2016

Techie Corner – 2016 – Post #6 – A Real Scientist (or Pollster)

Techie Corner – 2016 – Post #6 –  A Real Scientist (or Pollster)

What is a real scientist?

My two cents, but please share yours:

1. A real scientist seeks the truth in science. He or she has no hidden agendas.

2. A real scientist is unbiased. She or he mustn’t care if the experiment’s result is Option A or Option B.

3. A real scientist designs his or her experiment so that every variable is tightly controlled and the resulting data is unbiased.

4. A real scientist doesn’t work for a biased manager. The manager mustn’t care if the experiment’s result is Option A or Option B.

5. A real scientist doesn’t work for a biased funding source. The funding source mustn’t care if the experiment’s result is Option A or Option B.

6. A real scientist, when analyzing data, doesn’t discard “outlier” data points on a chart without a proven technical reason.

7. A real scientist, when analyzing data, doesn’t move data points on a chart. She or he never “doctors” data.

Note 1:  If a data gatherer fails any of the seven criteria above, she or he is not a scientist.

Note 2: These same seven criteria apply to engineers and pollsters. They seek the truth.

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Responses

  1. In an ideal world these are good. I think the “funding source” restriction is a bit harsh. People who grow or sell … rice… will be interested in rice research. People who develop computers or car seats will not fund rice research.

    The funding source must not do anything to enhance or disregard data or results… must let it stand, let the chips fall where they may. Of course the same could be said for a manager or even the researcher. That would be honest. It would be helpful for source, manager, researcher to make known their hopes, interests, and biases (if any).

    But perhaps that is what you mean when you say “must not care”. Words are tricky things. 😉

    • Yes, this is a bit harsh, Aunt Mary. But if a funding source prefers the result to turn out to be option A, they will influence the researcher, either consciously or unconsciously. This researcher will most likely taint the results, usually by failing to keep all of the variables constant, except for the two variables being examined. I learned the hard way that controlling variables under the best of circumstances is difficult and that personal preference almost always guarantees tainted, useless results. Cheers, Ashley


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