Science - 50 Percent of papers are wrong
A new scientific study has determined that at least 50% of scientific papers are wrong. (This reminds me of the old joke that 50% of all statistics are wrong, and 83.57% of all statistics are made up on the spot). From the article...
Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.Well. After another recent article showing fraud and falsehoods are common in science, this is just another example of why we should remain skeptical about scientific pronouncements, especially when they deal with unobservable historical events.
John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.
"We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery," Ioannidis says.
What is interesting is the comment about how important replicating a finding is. Yet most researchers do not bother with replication. There is no glory in being the first to replicate a finding, only in being the first to scientifically show something. New discoveries, not replication is where the glory is at. Consequently, replication also does not draw the big funding either.
This is why many many scientific findings never get replicated.
Then of course, when we are dealing with the past, there is no way to even observe the past event, and so replication is impossible. With the past, we can only infer from current observations based on certain untestable assumptions (these observations can be replicated, but the assumptions are almost never tested).