Why Most Published Research Findings are False (2)

by on September 20, 2007 at 7:11 am in Science | Permalink

John Ioannidis’s argument that most published research findings are false has been getting some attention in the blogosphere because of a recent article in the WSJ.  In an earlier post I  explained why most published research findings might be false using a simple diagram.

Hat tip and thanks to Steve Novella at Neurologica Blog and Mark H at Denialism both of whom refer to my analysis adding many excellent insights of their own.

shawn September 20, 2007 at 7:47 am

…lemme venture a guess before I click the link:

most are false for the same reason that nobody cares about a post comment that says: “yep, that’s true,” and adds nothing to the discussion.

You get no dap for saying the same damn thing again.

Now, let’s see if I’m right…

Thayne September 20, 2007 at 8:20 am

I believe what’s even more disturbing is the tendency we exhibit, discussed in the link below, to turn negative statements into positive statements. That is, given the statement, “X is not true,” studies have shown that, over time and repetition, the “not” fades. http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2007/09/07/04

Just some input from an economist turned architect…

GVV September 20, 2007 at 9:34 am

Research based on published data cannot claim much because the data is the result of the hard work of some poor field investigator.
Many studies based on primary data often claim about the robustness of their sampling procedure-but many of them may be based on convenience sampling.
Path breaking papers are those that open the doors of a vast area.
Examples:
The Time Allocation model of Prof.Becker,Prof.Coase’s papers etc.

Brock September 20, 2007 at 9:45 am

From your previous post:

There are an infinite number of false hypotheses about the world and only a finite number of true hypotheses so we should expect that most hypotheses are false.

I think there’s some merit to this, but it really depends on how you count hypotheses. And there are some difficult philosophical issues involved there.

For the most obvious way of counting them, there is a one-to-one correspondence between true and false hypotheses: for every true hypothesis, there’s exactly one false one, viz. its logical negation.

However, there’s something to the notion that there are more ways to be wrong than to be right. Consider the question “Who was Jack the Ripper?” If we consider every person who ever lived to be a possible answer to this question, there is one right answer to this question, and billions of wrong ones.

On the other hand, some questions have many more right answers than wrong ones: “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”

jacob September 20, 2007 at 11:07 am

Wouldnt then his research findings be false, meaning that most findings are true, meaning his findings were true……. Oh my I have gone and given myself a headache.

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