DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

– I’ve got a friend who has strong doubts about the gathering scientific consensus around Global Climate Change. We’ve debated the issue to a stand-still and decided to let it sit since we agree on so many other aspects of the Perfect Storm Hypothesis.

– But, I’ve heard many of his concerns loud and clear about the reliability of the science behind the ‘consensus’ on Global Climate Change – so it gives me the creeps to publish this little piece. It’s like putting a sharp knife in his hand. And, frankly, what the article has to say is worrisome.

– But, having said that, this article and others like it should become the impetus to make science and the scientific process better rather than the revelations that tear it down. because, after all, science is the best tool we have in the box – bar none.

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Are most published research findings actually false? The case for reform.

In a 2005 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, epidemiologist John Ioannidis showed that among the 45 most highly cited clinical research findings of the past 15 years, 99 percent of molecular research had subsequently been refuted. Epidemiology findings had been contradicted in four-fifths of the cases he looked at, and the usually robust outcomes of clinical trials had a refutation rate of one in four.

The revelations struck a chord with the scientific community at large: A recent essay by Ioannidis simply entitled “Why most published research findings are false” has been downloaded more than 100,000 times; the Boston Globe called it “an instant cult classic.” Now in a Möbius-strip-like twist, there is a growing body of research that is investigating, analyzing, and suggesting causes and solutions for faulty research.

Two papers published this spring in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine by Benjamin Djulbegovic from the University of South Florida and Ramal Moonesinghe from the CDC have delved into the issues raised by Ioannidis and suggested possible ways to mitigate this apparent failure of scientific enterprise. One of the suggestions is to ensure that experimental results are independently replicable. “More often than not, genuine replication is not done, and what we end up with in the literature is corroboration or indirect supporting evidence,” says Moonesinghe.

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