Free Markets, Free People

The state of “science” today?

These numbers should make everyone cringe, especially “scientists”:

  • The biotech company Amgen had a team of about 100 scientists trying to reproduce the findings of 53 “landmark” articles in cancer research published by reputable labs in top journals.
    Only 6 of the 53 studies were reproduced
     (about 10%).
  • Scientists at the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, examined 67 target-validation projects in oncology, women’s health, and cardiovascular medicine.  Published results were reproduced in only
    14 out of 67 projects
     (about 21%).
  • The project, PsychFileDrawer, dedicated to replication of published articles in experimental psychology, shows a
    replication rate 3 out of 9
     (33%) so far.

How can this be?  Where is the rigorousness?  Where is the peer review?  Where are the reproducible results and why aren’t we getting more than we are?

Oh, with a minute:

[T]he US government gives nearly $31 billion every year in science funding through NIH only, which is mainly distributed in research grants to academic scientists. The 10% reproducibility rate means that 90% of this money ($28 billion) is wasted. That’s a lot. How are the tax-payers supposed to respond to the scientist plight for more research funding given these numbers? Would you give more of your own money to someone who delivered you such a result?

Any bets on what the 90% unreproducible results help further?

~McQ

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18 Responses to The state of “science” today?

  • “Science” needs to start holding “science” to…erm…scientific rigor .

    And shaming the liars who lie.

  • “And shaming the liars who lie.”

    ah, where to begin – all the way at the top of the pyramid of government we have….

    “Climate-Caines!”

  • Hit a link over at Ace of Spades this morning to learn that climate change is responsible for moles (yes, those furry brown/gray worm-eaters who forage underground) compromising the structural integrity of Stonehenge. Is there anything global warming can’t do? Apparently not…

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    You’ll note this individual gave up as he/she thought once the actual data came available the warmists would abandon the cause. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

    In my little world there are numerous “scientific” cadaveric studies proving whatever the authors’ thesis might be. Pure garbage from a standpoint of clinical relevance/usefulness. Cadavers don’t have neurologic feedback mechanisms that provide for adaptive abilities and coping strategies. Like all disciplines, other studies suffer from various biases and sampling issues. The best part of the journals are the Letters to the Editor section in the subsequent issues, dissecting – nay, destroying – some prior article. It was always good to see some really bright folks still thinking critically.

    After more than 30 years in private practice, so many fads have come and gone – then come and gone again (and usually for the same reasons), all journal articles are read with a cynical (did I say that?) mind.

    • “Cadavers don’t have neurologic feedback mechanisms that provide for adaptive abilities and coping strategies.”
      Which is why we have to turn them into Zombies before we can get any use out of them on the zombie farms (part of Trump’s plan to replace illegal immigrants with zombie workers).

      And I’m pretty sure global warming will eventually cause zombies, if it hasn’t already.
      ” No one actually knows how the dinosaurs died, right, so maybe there is a virus or some kind of parasite, that needs a critical temperature to become active. So when the temperature of earth rose, the virus got activated, it infected the apex predators of that time, the dinosaurs. Maybe this is why only the dinosaurs died and not other animals. Many scientists agree that the vanishing of dinosaurs was not extinction it was mass extermination. And then as the temperature fell and so did the virus or the parasite go to dormancy.
      But now maybe as the temperature of earth is rising, due to global warming, the parasite or the virus gets activated again. Thus leading to extermination of humans.”

      Ah, global warming, if we could bottle it, it would remove warts, cure rheumatiz, polish your silver and be used as a love potion to win the heart of the man or woman you love.
      Only 10 cents a bottle – Dr. Mann’s guaranteed money making elixir.

    • Is there anything global warming can’t do?

      Fulfill even a single catastrophic prediction.

      • Hell, I’d be impressed with ANY damned prediction…much less a catastrophic prediction!

        I’m delighted when a five-day prediction for rain is REMOTELY correct!

        • Thank you. I thought I was just being critical. They were better at here it in the early 80’s if you ask me, before they had all the gear and programs to help them.

  • Those non-replicable studies are all cherry picked. Academics are such honest, capable people. Just ask them. They’ll tell you.

    • …and aren’t you glad that they they are the authority figures shaping the great young people of today!

  • So President 4-putt was present to help announce the latest hurricane prognostications. The takeaway quote:

    “He also emphasized that the direct efforts of federal agencies like FEMA and NOAA are shining examples of the excellent, hands-on work that the government can do for the people of this country.”

    No, it wasn’t the Onion.

  • “… Any bets on what the 90% unreproducible results help further? ”

    Oh, at a guess (and totally SEPARATE from the AGW – Climate Change BS):
    (1) The notion that kids raised by “professional caregivers” are as happy, healthy, well-adjusted, intelligent and productive –if not vastly more so– than children raised by stay-at-home mothers.
    (2) And that kids raised by same-sex parents are as “H, H, W-A, I & P” (see above) as kids raised in traditional households of one male-one female parents.
    (3) And that children taught from kindergarten about the “glorious and abso-bleeping-lutely normal diversity of sexual expression” , ditto.
    (4) And that children whose “feelings” are “validated” daily, hourly, unto eternity, throughout their time in public schools, ditto.
    And on.
    And on.
    And on.

    My examples above are only in regard to psych/sociology.

    For another:
    I can’t WAIT to see what NASA’s next big announcement will be, since its prime mandate has now been re-imagined (old-and-stale: launching Americans into space; new-and-fresh: the hip, pro-diversity, anti-military, super-PC goal of making Muslims “feel better” about their 7th-century mono-culture having had no curiosity, no science, and thus no progress, for the last 1400 years). Woo-hoo! It’ll be a doozy, you betcha.

    • ” can’t WAIT to see what NASA’s next big announcement will be”

      They’re going to be tasked with researching “Okie Doke” to try and determine if it is contributing to global climate change and whether or not it presents a danger to the country and Hillary’s election campaign.

      • No doubt it was culturally appropriated from somebody.

        • “Okie-Doke”
          Sounds like racism against people from Oklahoma.

          I’m going to enjoy employing the progressive paradigm of twisting the meaning of words until sanity resumes or we go Mad Max, whichever comes first.
          That one was a 2-fer.

  • Dwight Eisenhower warned of this in his farewell address (Jan 17,1961)

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet in holding scientific discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

  • From the article:

    Amazing technologies like microarrays, mass spectrometry, high-throughput assays, imaging, and robotic surgeries were introduced, making biology a data-rich science. One would expect that all these new tools would make science more rigorous and precise, but something opposite is happening.

    They reference all these amazing technological successes which are basically applied physics, chemistry, engineering, etc. That stuff can be proven to work to far more than the normal 1 or 2 sigma levels accepted in medicine, psychology etc. So they have been giving amazing tools but that does not mean that the studies the tools are used in will be exceeding 6 sigma tests like particle physics demands.

    But the main point stands, scientists are usually peculiarly unaware of their own biases. Having once been a scientist and quite often meeting up with them it is painfully obvious they often do not have an accurate self awareness of this.

    • When I was in medical school, one of the faculty noted that innovation in medicine is greatly hindered by doctors who have learned their art and now just follow an inner script in how they treat patients. He said “We usually have to wait for a generation of doctors to die off before we can introduce obviously needed changes.”

      Since then, the pace of innovation in biology/genetics/medicine/healthcare has increased many fold. So the damage from inertia is worse than ever. Yet I’m pretty sure that government’s dampening of innovation is even worse. Besides, when a generation of bureaucrats dies off, they are replaced by bureaucrats who even more authoritarian and reactionary.

      One of my main objections to Obamacare or any other non-market-driven healthcare set up is that it tends to freeze in place whatever is present when the program is implemented, and is notoriously slow to account for innovations.

      The FDA in particular has now reached the point where I believe it is costing 10x the lives it is saving. Maybe more. There are so many things that could have a positive impact on the entire healthcare system, but the inertia of the FDA is holding it back. Take one recent example I did some digging on – using human growth hormone to treat normal aging. The FDA says HGH can only be used to treat some “condition” or “disease”.

      Why? Well, if you happen to have certain forms of cancer already, HGH will make them grow faster. But that’s a tiny percentage of the population. So the quality-of-life benefits of restoring normal adult hormone balances and increasing the ability of the body to heal itself and fight infection (which will probably save far more lives than would be cost by accelerating cancer growth in a small population) are denied to almost everyone so that the FDA can point to the small number of lives their policies save.

      It never crosses their mind to have policies that promote, say, usage of these cheap bioassays to find that small number and keep them off HGH while the rest get its benefits. Oh, no. We peons are not supposed to make those decisions for ourselves, and our doctors can’t make them either. The mighty bureaucrats at the FDA must make them for every single American.

      Government-driven research isn’t really about innovation or knowledge production either. It’s about financing the lives of the researchers so they can live in the style they think smart people like them should live. They may occasionally produce good results, but when the system itself is sufficiently corrupted by the politics and finance of big government, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff?

      • I don’t agree with Milton Friedman on a lot, but he nailed it some 40 years ago when he said that the FDA should let MD’s prescribe any medication they want for their patients for any reason.