The National Association of Scholars (NAS) held its first regional conference of 2020 in Oakland, California, on February 7th and 8th. Nearly 90 academics, public intellectuals, and friends of the NAS attended the conference, which was titled, “Fixing Science.” The Independent Institute graciously opened its doors to NAS. Presidents David Theroux (Independent Institute) and Peter W. Wood (National Association of Scholars) welcomed attendees by discussing the importance and complexity of getting science right.
At this conference, NAS aimed to illuminate the many problems facing responsible and reproducible science, identify means to alleviate those problems, and discuss the numerous ways in which colleges, universities, non-profits, government, and private citizens may carry out these recommendations. Guests heard from distinguished speakers such as Ronald L. Wasserstein (American Statistical Association), Louis Anthony Cox, Jr. (Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, Environmental Protection Agency), Barry Smith (SUNY University at Buffalo), and Deborah G. Mayo (Virginia Polytechnic Institute).
On Friday, Nathan A. Schactman kicked off the conference with an address highlighting the importance of getting science right. “It’s not just an academic dispute,” said Schactman. “Appeals to science are frequent among both the public and in the court of law.” Irreproducible science has the potential to erode that public trust and potentially “renders legal judgments unsafe.” In the dinner keynote, Barry Smith identified the problems of adopting many of the proposed reforms by using as an example the attempts of financial regulators and companies to avoid repetition of the Great Recession of 2008.
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