In Scientists We Trust (Or Not)

All scientists, particularly those with doubts about relativity and the Big Bang Theory, need to read this month’s Atlantic article entitled:

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

With this subheading:

"Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science."

Written by David H. Freedman

Freeman quotes Ioannidis (Yo-NEE-dees) aptly:

“Even when the evidence shows that a particular research idea is wrong, if you have thousands of scientists who have invested their careers in it, they’ll continue to publish papers on it. It’s like an epidemic, in the sense that they’re infected with these wrong ideas, and they’re spreading it to other researchers through journals.”

Sound familiar?

Ioannidis has been extremely successful pointing out the sloppy research that leads to highly touted “miracle drugs” one day and then to FDA recalls and lawsuits decades later. Freedman writes: “Other researchers are eager to work with him: he has published papers with 1,328 different co-authors at 538 institutions in 43 countries, he says. Last year he received, by his estimate, invitations to speak at 1,000 conferences and institutions around the world. “ After all that, Ioannidis still doubts that he has changed the system in any significant way.

I am sure that what Ioannidis documents so well for medicine infects all of science and will continue to do so until funding is no longer based on the “publish or perish” model—don’t hold your breath. Through their representatives recently conservative taxpayers should rightly challenge funding to the sloppiest of the sloppy. Maybe we can get some of our $100 billion/year of our medical research dollars back. While they are at it, let’s hope they can hack off the wasted bucks used for futile attempts to prove Einstein’s ideas that time “dilates” and that “space-time” actually exists.

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