Cannot be Replicated

We don’t devote enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.
Bill Watterson-cartoonist

Today in Watts Up With That (WUWT), Anthony Watts printed excerpts from a New Yorker article on the failure of scientific research results, see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/20/it%E2%80%99s-as-if-our-facts-were-losing-their-truth/#more-32026. It had to do with the replication of research results. It seems that MOST research results, in every scientific discipline, cannot be replicated.

The actual New Yorker article, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer#ixzz1BYjefYnF, is a relatively long read (five whole pages—doh), but it is worth the time. It is one of the best articles I have read in a long time.

I mention these items because of one of my pet peeves. We, the people, are too quick to accept any information from respectable-sounding organizations as the gospel truth. Somewhere along the line, we decided to abdicate our thinking to whatever authority was handy. It seems that the general population believes thinking is hard work, better to accept whatever junk is placed before us than do the work.

Well, thinking can be hard, or at least trying to find and verify data can be very difficult. For instance, I used to have a source I went to for information on health matters, see http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ (still an excellent site to spend a few informative hours). It is a blog by Sandy Scwarc. She posted articles on the scientific medical studies we read about all the time: the ones on obesity, longevity, diabetes, junk food, cholesterol, and things like that. But she did it differently from most folks. She did not post her opinions; she went directly to the research papers and posted excerpts from the studies . . . including the study conclusions. Oddly enough, most conclusions are diametrically opposed to the results placed in the news releases. Then she showed how these studies were combined in dredge analysis reports to prove or disprove almost anything, oftentimes with the same report being used to prove both sides of an issue. For some reason, Sandy Scwarc has not made a posting for over a year. I fear for her health and hope she is okay.

The reason I point this out, is that we need to stop believing everything we read. Sandy only pointed out the inequities of the research so that the readers could make their own evaluations. We need to question authority. We need to verify the science before using it to make policy—in healthcare, global warming, on what is taught in schools, and anything else that is going to affect our lives or the lives of our progeny. We need to think for ourselves. When did we lose this ability?

Advertisements
Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags:

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://stlouisooz.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/cannot-be-replicated/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. “If” – by chance, they do find a cure for jerks i’d like to know the cure for my husband..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: