Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

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I thought this was apropos given the quality of much of the "research" we've seen.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science
by XMRV Global Action on Monday, January 17, 2011 at 9:57am

some highlights from today's article in Alliance for Human Research Protection

"A fascinating article in The Atlantic, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science" by David Freedman, profiles Dr. John Ioannidis, who says that as much as 90% of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed.

Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctorsto a striking extentstill drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?"

The studies were biased. Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there.Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain resultsand, lo and behold, they were getting them.

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, theyll continue to publish papers on it. Its like an epidemic, in the sense that theyre infected with these wrong ideas, and theyre spreading it to other researchers through journals.

Perhaps worse, Ioannidis found that even when a research error is outed, it typically persists for years or even decades.

We all need to accept the fact that scientists are not superior human beings--they are no less susceptible to human fallibility--such as self-delusion and greed--than the rest of us.Scientists are susceptible to fleeting fads, they cling to comforting, widely held, but unproven beliefs. They are given to bias--generated by financial conflicts of interest, and also bias motivated by ambition and the imperative of academia, "publish or perish."

The reason that many false scientific theories continue to be considered true even after they are proven wrong is powerful stakeholders--in particular, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and government public health service agencies--all of who are invested in their application."



thx to CFSFacts for the link http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/741/9/
 

Enid

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Guess they are no different from others. Saw an interesting programme on the latest in particle physics (apparently I'm a hologram) but they have the good grace to pursue research knowing and sharing findings and the humility to be found wrong - unlike so many in the medical profession.
 

Crappy

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Statistics don't Lie; but Liars use Statistics!

Great subject. We recognize it intuitively, but fail to consider it consciously much.

I have had the advantage/disadvantage of knowing statisticians/mathematicians who work deeply in the field as Professors and/or Consultants. More than one has made the remark to me that they could draw many different conclusions from any one data set. Basically; tell them what I wanted to prove, and they would show me how to with my data set. What was so scary, they could "muddy" the facts with a few words.
 

SilverbladeTE

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The more power an m oney get involved with anything, the more corrupt they inevitably become
alas many took Science as some sort of holy grail of perfection...rubbish, it's a Human institution and thus fallible

Scientific Method is the best to understand our universe...but we Humans are fallible, and we know jack SQUAT about the vast realm we live in, it's hubris to suggest otherwise.
13+ billion years old Universe, we cannot even get our own backsides out of the gravity well of our planet and we claim in to "know"....um, no!
We are just sctratching at the basics
wonderful work, extremely tedious work mostly, vital work, wonderful work, awesome body of knowledge and endeavour...but still, this is how much we know about our reality:
.

tiny tiny pinprick. Absolutley no room to be complacent or sure of anything.
which is a good thing really, if we last a milllion years, we need to leave plenty to explore our our descendants will not get bored ;)

and, beyond just monetary corruption, which is massive with the pharma corps, a lot of folk get into science for a very bad reason:
they need it as a religion, a blanket, a surety an absolute certainty to peg their beliefs on.
Science is about uncertainty.
 

alex3619

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Science is about uncertainty.
Hi SilverbladeTE, I almost entirely agree, just a slight shift in emphasis. Science is a tool that we can use to find out about the universe. Like all tools it is fantastic in hands of a master (Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, thousands more) but in the hands of a fool ... well, we don't need any prompting to come up with those names.

The same tool argument also applies to mathematics and reason. Use them well and achieve great things. Use them badly and it can be dark days indeed.

Bye
Alex

PS If you are afraid to be wrong, you cannot learn or grow. Too much of science is governed by fear of being wrong, it prevents good thinkers from becoming great thinkers. Uncertainty is why we need science, but science just makes it more manageable, uncertainly always exists.
 

jimells

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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, theyll continue to publish papers on it. Its like an epidemic, in the sense that theyre infected with these wrong ideas, and theyre spreading it to other researchers through journals.

Perhaps worse, Ioannidis found that even when a research error is outed, it typically persists for years or even decades.
Hmmm, kinda reminds me of the theory of human-caused global warming.... (Braces for attack)
 

alex3619

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Hmmm, kinda reminds me of the theory of human-caused global warming.... (Braces for attack)
:) You are not wrong jimells, but at the same time this applies to the people pursuing the idea that global warming is not due to human activity. We have taken to treating science like politics - how did they vote? Oh, then it must be true.

Politicians get things wrong all the time. Science is not a democracy, or a parliament, or a consensus-machine. Its about objective facts and reason. The politicization of science could well destroy the value ot science.The heart of science is objective experimentation, communication, criticism and debate. Its not about consensus or group-think. Major advances often come from those who do not follow the crowd.

In warfare the politician sets the target, and the general designs the campaign. Science is not dissimilar. Politics sets agendas, but when politics tries to control outcomes its just as crazy as having politicians run a war on a day to day basis. Oh no, the polls say we shouldn't attack here, lets do something else. If the Roman Empire has run its military by the citizens voting on every issue, then we wouldn't have a civilization today.

Bye, Alex
 

Enid

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Ex Chief Scientific Officer to the UK government interviewed this morning admitting to "politics" often overruling - now where is the real power - we know the scenario and "politics" with all it's failings could be a real power for good but uneducated and persuaded by ignorant pressure groups/establishments for ill - as has happened in the UK medical establishment since the Royal Free with ME.