It is interesting — and encouraging — to note how the scientific method was itself utilized to uncover these widespread issues.
There are two pieces in the latest Economist that are must-reads not just for scientists, but for science-friendly laypeople. Both paint a dire picture of how credible scientific claims are, and how weak our system is for adjudicating them before publication. One piece is called “How science goes wrong“; the other is “Trouble at the lab.” Both are free online, and both, as is the custom with The Economist, are written anonymously.
The main lesson of these pieces is that we shouldn’t trust a scientific result unless it’s been independently replicated—preferably more than once. That’s something we should already know, but what we don’t know is how many findings—and the articles deal largely with biomedical research—haven’t been replicable, how many others haven’t even been subject to replication, and how shoddy the reviewing process is, so that even a published result may be dubious.
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