Friday, September 21, 2007

Most Research Findings Are False

“This ‘scientific research’ defies common sense!” Have you ever found yourself saying this after reading a “scientific” study, which makes an incredible claim such as, “porn is good for marital health,” or “there is no link between abortion and depression?” Have you noticed that “scientific research” with questionable results or conclusions seems to be on the rise? Have you read conclusions that do not appear to be justified by the “proof” given? If you have, you are not alone.

Recently there have been a number of high profile scandals involving bogus research findings. These have spanned the world and have covered every field from genetics to the disappearance from public view of the UN’s purported “Smoking Gun” of “Global Warming” - the now discredited and vanished “Hockey Stick.” However, these scandals are just the tip of the iceberg.

On September 14, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, “Most Science Studies Appear to be Tainted by Sloppy Analysis.” This article was based on the work of Dr. John Ioannidis of Tufts University. In Ioannidis’s provocative article, “Why Most Research Findings Are False,” he makes an even stronger case for skepticism of “scientific research.”

Dr. Ioannidis’s findings show that over half of all scientific research is seriously flawed and therefore not valid. Very often these flaws involve using the wrong mathematical tools, misapplying them, or inappropriate handling of data. While sloppiness is a major factor in false research, there are far more powerful motives for falsifying or misinterpreting research. These include money and, most importantly, “bias.”

Not surprisingly, a large amount of academic funding is dependent upon the results of research. If your funding comes from the National Education Association, your research on the academic success of parochial schools is not likely to show or emphasize the fact that parochial schools consistently out perform public schools at half the price. If you are a socialist, using environmentalism to advance your economic agenda, your research is not likely to point out that the United States (whose Congress has not ratified the Kyoto protocols) has met the CO2 reductions mandated by Kyoto, while most of the nations that have ratified the treaty have not met their mandated reductions.

Very often these “false research findings” are spin. A leading example is the failure of hundreds of genetic studies that aimed to bolster the Darwinian Tree of Life model of descent from a common ancestor. The researchers and media rarely mention that these unexpected and contradictory findings are a huge problem for Darwinism. The results are duplicitously spun and reported as being consistent with the Darwinian paradigm.

Why This Is Important

A few years ago DDT was banned based on research now universally acknowledged to be incorrect. The ban resulted in millions of unnecessary malarial deaths (mostly children) worldwide. Bogus research can also have disastrous social consequences. Margaret Mead’s studies of sexual freedom in South Pacific Islanders, including her book, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” are used to rationalize and to promote sexual promiscuity. Yet, it is widely acknowledged in the current anthropological literature that her findings were total fiction.

Be very skeptical of what you read and believe is supported by “scientific research,” especially if you are going to quote or act on it. Check to see who did the work, who funded it, where it was published, and what the agendas were of all involved. Read the details: was the data cropped, were the statistical tools appropriate, were the truly relevant questions even asked, was the question framed to produce the result desired? Very often you will find that even when the research has been done properly, the analysis may not support the conclusion as claimed.

Consequently, if research flies in the face of your common sense, it probably is false.

Source: Public Library Of Science: Medicine v.2(8); Aug. 2005

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