Statistics From The Economist October 19th-25th, 2013

These statistics are from the article “Trouble at the lab,” from the The Economist October 19th-25th, 2013 and which I find fascinating.

From Page 26:

“The idea that the same experiments always get the same results, no matter who performs them, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to objective truth.”

Also from Page 26:

“When an official at America’s National Institute of Health (NIH) reckons, despairingly, that researchers would find it hard to reproduce at least three-quarters of all published biomedical findings, the public part of the process seems to have failed.”

From Page 27: The difference in errors which I believe is quite important in understanding not just lab experiments but how we make our decision making process better.

“Scientists divide errors into two classes. A type I error is the mistake of thinking something is true when it is not (also known as a “false positive”). A type II error is thing something is not true when in fact it is (a “false negative”).

Also from page 27:

“Negative results account for just 10-30% of published scientific literature, depending on the discipline. This bias may be growing. A study of 4,600 papers across the sciences conducted by Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh found that the proportion of negative results dropped from 30% to 14% between 1990 and 2007.”

We will have the synopsis of part 2 of the article tomorrow, but it seems to me, thus far, that the advent of open-access journals and the basic greed of researchers to get published are wiping out as it said in the first quote, the cornerstone of science.

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