Monday, March 23, 2015

Hype vs. Science in Medical Research

Behold one of the greatest graphics ever produced. Each red dot represents one "scientific" study study arguing that the food in question either causes or prevents cancer, with the distance from the center line representing the size of the alleged effect. The data comes from a 2013 article by Jonathan Schoenfeld and the irrepressible John Ioannidis (author of the famous article, "Why Most Published Research Findings are False.") Gotta love the spread for milk.

We need to get scientists and reporters to stop hyping the results of single studies. At a deeper level, it seems to me that we need a better way to approach these problems than all of these statistical mishmashes, although I have no idea what that would be. Maybe better understanding of cellular physiology will help discriminate between potentially real and nonsensical results. But maybe not.

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