In today's society, we often look to science as an unbiased source of truth, regulated by the peer review process. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of publication bias—well-documented in the scientific literature—permeates a variety of scientific studies. To put it one way, certain points of view are more likely to be published than others for reasons other than the quality of research.
For example, the authors of a 2015 meta-analysis of US National Institutes of Health trials pinpointed publication bias as the reason why we overestimate the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Another 2015 meta-analysis of the social cost of carbon(a concept related to global warming) found that contrary data was often suppressed which "might create an upward bias in the literature."1 The authors of the study also found that "the evidence for selective reporting is stronger for studies published in peer-reviewed journals than for unpublished papers." These data support an earlier analysis that found a strong publication bias in favor of human-caused global warming in articles published in Science and Nature.2
Even our choice of breakfast foods is affected by publication bias. For example, the World Health Organization has recently classified bacon and other processed meats as "carcinogenic to humans," but this is tempered by a 1994 meta-analysis that found that publication bias in cancer epidemiology is "arguably high."3 Add to this decades of contradictory research about the benefit or detriment of coffee and eggs and people might become justifiably skeptical about science, at least with regards to their diets.
Science recently published the results of a massive study with more than 250 coauthors "estimating the reproducibility of psychological science."4 After conducting replications of 100 studies that were published in three psychology journals, the researchers found only 39 percent of the effects replicated the original result. Reproducibility is one of the three pillars of science.5 An experiment repeated under the same conditions should produce similar results; if it doesn't, then it's back to the drawing board. Yet it appears 61 percent of psychology studies fail this test.
The peer review process is supposed to pick up errors like these, but instead it seems complicit. And the problem appears much broader than just these examples.
Why does publication bias slip through peer review? When we follow the money we find that results often match the objectives of whoever finances the research: whether a government, a business, or a foundation. The worldview of a publication's editors can also be an important factor; an article might be published or rejected based on philosophical assumptions rather than on the quality of research. (For Christian scientists, publication bias based on worldview is a principle hurdle.)
Dogma vs. Facts
Science should be based on facts, not dogma—and that includes atheist dogma as well as Christian dogma. After all, as the late Michael Crichton detailed in a 2003 speech, "environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists."6 Atheist environmentalists believe there is no God and that humans are an evolutionary accident that is destroying the planet, while Christians believe there is a God who created humans in His image to be stewards of creation. Neither statement can be scientifically proven. Yet, although scientific peer review has no problem rejecting Christian dogma, global warming publication bias shows that it accepts environmental dogma. (Environmental dogma is really not science but trans-science;7 so many interacting, poorly understood variables are involved that the models have not proven to be predictive.)
Modern biological and paleontological publications usually contain excellent science based on observation and analysis. But dogma often surfaces in the abstracts, introductions, or conclusions as the authors pay homage to natural selection as the causative agent. Appealing to a supernatural Designer is not a welcome perspective in these journals. If Sir Isaac Newton were to submit Principia, his seventeenth-century opus, for peer review today, it would surely be sent back requiring deletion of this reference to God and rejection of naturalistic evolution: