Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Ecologist Allan Savory says students enter university as “bright young people,” but “come out of it brain dead.”
A few years ago I authored a report about peer review, a process in which academic journals invite feedback from third parties prior to deciding whether or not to publish a scholarly paper.
Informed people know peer review can’t shield us from incompetence or dishonesty. It provides no guarantee that a research project was properly designed or properly executed. It doesn’t guarantee that the statistical analysis employed by the researchers was appropriate or sound.
Funnily enough, professors who’ve spent their entire careers advancing School of Thought ‘A’ don’t put out the welcome mat for research that supports School of Thought ‘B.’ This means that peer review is one of the mechanisms by which certain scientific narratives remain dominant. Meat, butter, and eggs are unhealthy. Climate change is catastrophic rather than manageable. Vaccines always make sense.
The limitations of peer review are so obvious and so extensive that informed observers admitted years ago that half of all published research is probably wrong. Pick a study at random, including those published in the most reputable scientific journals imaginable, and there’s a 50/50 chance its conclusions are wrong.
That’s the real world: Error prone. Political. Emotional.
Egos, agendas, and misleading clutter everywhere.
Does a university education prepare us for this reality? Do young people emerging with their medical school diplomas and their shiny PhDs – following years of tax-funded education – understand that almost all knowledge is provisional and uncertain? That finding one’s way through thickets of conflicting perspectives will always be difficult?
In the above 90-second video, ecologist Allan Savory argues emphatically in the negative. He invites us to wonder, yet again: Why do taxpayers fund higher education so lavishly? What do we get in return?
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