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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

So much relies on science. But what if science itself can’t be relied on?

Medicine, education, psychology, health, parenting - wherever it really matters, we look to science for advice. Science Fictions reveals the disturbing flaws that undermine our understanding of all of these fields and more.

While the scientific method will always be our best and only way of knowing about the world, in reality, the current system of funding and publishing science not only fails to safeguard against scientists’ inescapable biases and foibles, it actively encourages them. From widely accepted theories about ‘priming’ and ‘growth mindset’ to claims about genetics, sleep, microbiotics, as well as a host of drugs, allergies and therapies, we can trace the effects of unreliable, overhyped and even fraudulent papers in austerity economics, the anti-vaccination movement and dozens of best-selling books - and occasionally count the cost in human lives.

Stuart Ritchie has been at the vanguard of a new reform movement within science aimed at exposing and fixing these problems. In this vital investigation, he gathers together the evidence of their full and shocking extent and proposes a host of remedies to save and protect this most valuable of human endeavours from itself.

©2020 Stuart Ritchie (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Science Fictions

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Vexed problem clearly explained

This book covered a critical issue that colleagues and I have discussed aspects of for a long time, but it is really nice to see it all laid out so clearly and with some constructive solutions at the end. I really enjoyed this book and even though some of the explanations of statistics went over familiar ground, the examples and overall narative were clear and well explained.

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  • Hudson Alumera
  • 20-09-2020

Science needed this

Stuart Ritchie greatly captures the issues in science today. The crisis is dire and urgent and he carefully, fairly and without reservations invites the reader to see the crisis. Unusual for most authors he offers some solutions but quickly admits more needs to be done. A great read, and important argument a job superbly executed. The bonus is the author performs the book himself, you truly hear his “voice”

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  • liam c
  • 23-07-2020

Brilliant

A comprehensive but easy to understand look at how science needs, and can be, changed to benefit us all. The narration is great.

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  • Lawrence Newport
  • 23-07-2020

Revealing and necessary

This book is absolutely necessary and it is a great relief to find someone eruditely explaining some of the worst practices in science. Much of academia needs to change, and Ritchie highlights many of its grave faults.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-10-2020

fascinating and surprisingly funny

A really fascinating book and well narrated. If you're a researcher or at all interested in science this is well worth a read.

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  • Patrick
  • 09-10-2020

Highly interesting, balanced, intelligent

The discussion of the various forms of scientific malpractice is comprehensive, fascinating and at times lurid. The discussion of what to do about such malpractice is, perhaps necessarily, briefer and more speculative -- a lot of interesting ideas but little realised success. Ritchie avoids two of my pet peeves with pop science books -- long pointless tangents about the author's life and patronisingly dumbed down and dramatised explanations. In contrast, Ritchie's anecdotes are invariably pertinent and to the point, illustrating his own direct experience combatting negligence and misconduct in the science. Moreover, the text is both easy to understand and intellectually honest -- Ritchie alleges no grand conspiracies and offers no panaceas. Instead, the limitations of science arise from the very human limitations of its practitioners: their ignorance, their desire for recognition, for pecuniary reward, for novel results and for the verification of their pet hypotheses. And the solutions, he concludes, most be equally multifarious: incentivising reporting of null results and replication studies, and the sharing of preprints and datasets; requiring pre-registration of experimental hypotheses; and reforming the scientific journal system are among the solutions he proposes. Moreover, he suggests an incremental trial-and-error approach -- some solutions may create problems of their own, so aggressively replacing the current system with something radically different would be ill-advised. The narration is outstanding -- the best of the 20-odd non-fiction audiobooks I've listened to. After listening for a while I thought "what a fantastic narrator -- I hope he has more stuff". Lo and behold, Ritchie himself is the narrator!

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 20-07-2020

Insubstantive

Nothing new offered here. The set of 'surprising' ideas presented are also pretty pithy and the text reads like marketing hype more than substance. The author also reads as naive in judging misfindings and scientific fraud as startling rather than just routine in a network, science journals, at worldwide scale.

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