PJ Media

"People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual"

There is an a href=”http://online.wsj.com/article/science_journal.html?mod=djemtct”interesting article in the WSJ today /a on the sloppy analysis of most science findings (Hat tip: a href=”http://sisu.typepad.com/”Sissy Willis/a): br /br /blockquoteWe all make mistakes and, if you believe medical scholar John Ioannidis, scientists make more than their fair share. By his calculations, most published research findings are wrong….br /br /These flawed findings, for the most part, stem not from fraud or formal misconduct, but from more mundane misbehavior: miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis. “There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims,” Dr. Ioannidis said. “A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true.”br /br /The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.br /br /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.br /br /In the U. S., research is a $55-billion-a-year enterprise that stakes its credibility on the reliability of evidence and the work of Dr. Ioannidis strikes a raw nerve. In fact, his 2005 essay “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” remains the most downloaded technical paper that the journal PLoS Medicine has ever published./blockquotebr /br /Scientists messing around with data or who have an agenda? Say it isn’t so.