Most Published Medical Research Findings are False?
Posted by greg2213 on January 6, 2013
A journal of the NIH posted a very interesting paper.
Ok, so this is for medicine, where there is some incentive to publish accurate results. I mean, we do want the patient to survive the treatment, right? What about purely theoretical sciences (eg: Climate) where the goal of the research is to get the next grant or to support a Gov’t policy?
Now, admittedly, the human body is complex. I seem to remember a quote (by Hawkings?) that the human body is more complex than black hole physics, or somesuch. Couldn’t find it.
Is this research in itself even accurate? Food for thought.
There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field.
In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance.
Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.
The paper is here: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
Update 1/9/13: Seems that a lot of the scientific papers that are retracted are retracted due to fraud.