Saturday, September 15, 2007

Science suffers from an excess of significance

The WSJ reports (also here):
Take the discovery that the risk of disease may vary between men and women, depending on their genes. Studies have prominently reported such sex differences for hypertension, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, as well as lung cancer and heart attacks. In research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ioannidis and his colleagues analyzed 432 published research claims concerning gender and genes.

Upon closer scrutiny, almost none of them held up. Only one was replicated.

Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance.
You can find links to the Ioannidis papers here. His arguments are much more applicable to the soft sciences than to the hard sciences.

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