John P. A. Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece, and Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts University, believes that most of the correlates that scientists find and publish are either indirect, or completely false. To this effect he has published an essay in PLoS Medicine titled Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article about Dr. Ioannidis’s efforts to cleanse the science.
Take the discovery that the risk of disease may vary between men and women, depending on their genes. Studies have prominently reported such sex differences for hypertension, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, as well as lung cancer and heart attacks. In research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ioannidis and his colleagues analyzed 432 published research claims concerning gender and genes.
Upon closer scrutiny, almost none of them held up. Only one was replicated.
Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. “People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual,” Dr. Ioannidis said.
Read @ WSJ: Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis …
Much more @ WSJ Health Blog: Can You Believe What Scientists Publish? …