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Cornell University


Monday, October 16, 2017 04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
NPR science correspondent Richard Harris

Lecture:  “Rigor Mortis. Returning delight and rigor to science”

UNIVERSITY  LECTURER Richard Harris, Science Correspondent at National Public Radio, Washington, DC

The pressure to publish quickly in order to continue getting grants has resulted in a reduction in rigor. Ironically, setting the competitive bar higher has resulted in moving it lower. This lecture begins with examples of the problem and consequences of the misinformation on society, and continues to explore the policies and practices that make the problem inevitable. 

Mr. Harris derives the lecture from his recent book, Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope and Wastes Billions, and 30 years of science reporting.

Cornellians in positions of policy influence can improve the situation, those conducting research can improve our approach, and those in training can have a deeper understanding of what they're getting into. As a result, all of us doing research can experience more of the delight that brought us to the profession in the first place.

Richard Harris' main talk will be at 4:30 on Monday October 16 in B25 Warren Hall.

See the poster here. Invited by the Department of Horticulture, CVM - Biomedical Sciences, and BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training).

Free and open to the public.

On Tuesday October 17 Harris will also lead two faculty panels: Restoring rigor in Science

Cornell faculty, representing three areas where anti-rigor forces act, will comment on how Cornell can lead in the right direction. Harris will offer brief comments on the potential effectiveness, or other observations about those remarks. Audience members will also be encouraged to ask questions and offer reflections.

Vet school's new Lecture Hall 1 at 9:15 am

  • Grants                 Avery August, Microbiology & Immunology
  • Publishing            Luis Schang, Baker Institute for Animal Health
  • Promotion            Margaret Smith, Plant Breeding

404 Plant Sciences at 11:15am

  • Grants                 Paula Cohen, Biomedical Sciences
  • Publishing            Tony Bretcher, Molecular Biology & Genetics
  • Promotion            Marjolein van der Meulen, Biomedical Engineering

There is a reproducibility crisis in science that makes the work of scientists harder and less rewarding. One of the causes is a lack of clarity on what constitutes failure in an experiment.

In his book, Rigor Mortis.  How sloppy science creates worthless cures, crushes hope, and wastes billions, journalist Richard Harris writes,

"I expect that 90% of experiments do fail. Our business is about managing failure. But if experiments fail because scientists were lazy, the work was sloppy, or the analysis was bad, that's not the failure of an experiment – it's the failure of the experimenter.” quoting Glen Begley p. 40


Check out the rest of the series of University Lecturers coming to campus!

B25 Warren Hall
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