Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“. . . lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

If you ever want to claim instant credibility for your opinion, all you have to do is come up with a scientific paper, written by some PhD or group of PhD’s, that seems to support it.  You’ll probably find one, too, no matter how wacky your opinion might be.  The reason?  That’s easy.  The findings of most scientific studies these days are false.  This fact isn’t very well known in the lay community, but it’s common knowledge among scientists.

John P.A. Ioannidis blew the whistle on the reasons for this in 2005 in a published paper titled “Why Most Published Research Findings are False.”  He’s far from alone in that position.  Since that article, some in the scientific community organized the World Conference on Research Integrity which is convened every three years.  The first was in Lisbon, Portugal in 2007, the second in Singapore in 2010, and the most recent was held in Montreal, Canada this past May.

After three world conferences and growing concern in the scientific community, not much has improved.  This is not an insignificant issue.  Changes instigated as a result of faulty science often have profound impact on our whole culture.  Too often these changes have pushed us in the wrong direction, to the detriment of us all.  (more...)

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