The Problems with Science

My favorite genre of scientific research paper is the “meta-study.” Besides sounding awesome, the meta-study provides powerful insights about larger realities in scientific research. By analyzing the work of dozens or even hundreds of different scientific research studies, the meta-study can reveal the blind spots of an entire scientific discipline. This is important because sometimes the blind spots are massive, shockingly so.

Often people have an overly simplistic understanding of what science is and what it can do. The “scientific method” is touted as the crown jewel of human intellectual achievement. The “scientific method” is claimed to be the one reliable source of knowledge humans have. But meta-studies like the ones below are essentially partypoopers, sobering us up to the not-so-glitzy reality. The sneaking suspicion we should have in reading these meta-studies is this: the more comprehensively one considers scientific research as a whole, the more likely one is to find major methodological problems.

Consider these:

“Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124#pmed-0020124-b6

This one’s a classic meta-study and has been hugely influential since it was published in 2005.

“Cluster failure: Why fMRI inferences for spatial extent have inflated false-positive rates” http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21702166-two-studies-one-neuroscience-and-one-palaeoclimatology-cast-doubt

The Economist summarizes the findings and their significance.

“Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature” http://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-016-1044-7

About 20% of scientific papers on genetic research are called into question simply due to issues with Excel’s auto-formatting

And there is much more…

 

My favorite genre of scientific research paper is the "meta-study." Besides sounding awesome, the meta-study provides…

Posted by Daniel Haqiqatjou on Friday, September 9, 2016

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