17. The Internet as a source of possible errors

The Internet naturally promotes a certain kind of bias; mostly for the sensational. Search engines like Google even optimize their returned results based on your prior searches, showing you what they think you want to see. This can make it difficult to branch out from a certain niche, and exacerbates confirmation bias, the reception of data that confirms what we already think. In addition, there is always a lot of low-quality noise associated with any concept or idea. Even quality journals like Nature cannot necessary be trusted, as peer review is fraught with all kinds of bias—for sensational results, for results that operate within a certain scientific paradigm, results that adhere to the framing of a dominant scientist, and so on. Older scientists receive all the grant money, meaning they dictate the flavor of much of contemporary research. Max Planck's old saying comes to mind: “Science advances one funeral at a time.” Of course, the wider amount of content on the Internet means that if there is good content, and if someone is diligent about searching for it, it will eventually be found. The Internet also improves the speed of research, allowing a researcher to cycle through poor research more quickly and cheaply than may otherwise have been possible.