Junk Science in big and little ways–Medical Research is unreliable, but scientific unreliability is epidemiic

Stan Young send this to me. Stan is quite familiar with the problem.

John Ioannides has demonstrated the unreliabity and unreproducibility problem many times–particularly in observational studies that make big claims about populations of people.

The impact is exhibit one for the Twain statement it is easier to fool people than prove to them they’ve been fooled.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bengoldacre/deworming-trials

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2 responses to “Junk Science in big and little ways–Medical Research is unreliable, but scientific unreliability is epidemiic

  1. Research is one area that could benefit from the application of Six Sigma methodology. Tools such as Design of Experiments and Failure Modes Effects and Analysis should be used to focus the methods and metrics that will be used. This would obviate some research problems.

    For example, in some third world countries the age of children cannot be accurately determined as they have no birth certificates. In some places this causes problems for admitting children to school. Because height and weight are impacted by diet they are not good indicators of age. A simple test was established based on the ability of children old enough go to school to reach over their own heads and grab their own ears. The Deworming Trials have data gaps on age and this is understandable given where the study was conducted. However, knowing that getting an accurate age would be a problem, age ranges could have been calculated based on things such as the ability to grab ears, teeth, and signs of puberty.

    Perhaps this is not a solution to all problems in studies, but any improvement in methodology and reporting would be a good thing.

  2. Wild headline grabbing junk science delights our media. It stirs viewer interest and sells copy. It also further inflates the bloated egos of the junk science producers, makes them look like heroes. Last but not least, it sells “healthy alternatives” that no one would buy otherwise.

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