Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It's not just fake news we have to worry about

A lot of the scientific reports floating around out there are bosh.
A few years ago, two researchers took the 50 most-used ingredients in a cook book and studied how many had been linked with a cancer risk or benefit, based on a variety of studies published in scientific journals.The result? Forty out of 50, including salt, flour, parsley and sugar.
Pressure on researchers, competition between journals and the media's insatiable appetite for new studies announcing revolutionary breakthroughs has meant such articles continue to be published, Ivan Couronne writes.
When studies are replicated, they rarely come up with the same results. Only a third of the 100 studies published in three top psychology journals could be successfully replicated in a large 2015 test.
"The majority of papers that get published, even in serious journals, are pretty sloppy," said John Ioannidis, professor of medicine at Stanford University, who specializes in the study of scientific studies.
What to do: Ioannidis recommends asking the following questions: is this something that has been seen just once, or in multiple studies? Is it a small or a large study? Is this a randomized experiment? Who funded it? Are the researchers transparent?

Diet is one of the worst areas, and I'm one of the worst offenders, because I like to tout the fact that if you drink lots of coffee and eat lots of chocolate you will live forever.
The problem also comes from the media, which according to Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which covers the withdrawal of scientific articles, needs to better explain the uncertainties inherent in scientific research, and resist sensationalism.

"We're talking mostly about the endless terrible studies on coffee, chocolate and red wine," he said.

"Why are we still writing about those? We have to stop with that."
No. I want people to know how to live forever.

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