medical research itself under the microscope …

… the Atlantic Monthly on Dr. John Ioannidis’ research on the quality of medical research – “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science“.

Ioannidis shows that over 3/4 of non-randomized and as many as 1/4 of randomized studies are wrong.

“The studies were biased,” he says. “Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there.” Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain results—and, lo and behold, they were getting them. We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it’s easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. “At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded,” says Ioannidis. “There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded.”

Ioannidis’ article in PLoS Medicine (the most down-loaded article in the journal’s history).

BioEdge on Ioannidis.