Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just because its in one report doesn't mean it right

I apologize in advance for writing what has got to be one of my most uninspired blog posts ever. Please feel free to skip it and come back another day.

Back when I was writing my college thesis (on the evolution of the verb 'to be' in Romance languages if you must know), the first article I found turned out to be an inaccurate and actually was completely wrong. It was written in the 19th century and countered all other information - and was wrong. I was all excited to read it once and then I found everything else was contrary. It provided me with a good lesson of just because you read it once, doesn't mean it right.

Medical research is becoming more often recalled. What this means is just because you read it in a medical study doesn't mean its true - this is why they always say 'more studies are needed'.

If a researcher has a big study and writes up a report that is publicized they get their money, their faculty chair, and a bunch of other perks. There has been a 15 fold increase in the number of retracted studies in the last ten years. It should be noted that retractions are not done because of falsified data, I think that is the exception and not the rule. It can be due to contaminated samples, data can't be repeated, or some sort of misconduct. This does not mean the research is wrong it just means that they need to verify it.

What this means, is if you see a breakthrough medical study that will cure you, your doctor is probably right in telling you that patience is needed. If your doctor isn't keeping up with the latest medical news, they make be making decisions based on recalled research.

The recommendations are to search online libraries to confirm the research and to check Retraction Watch. Or in other words 'dont believe what you read'.

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