December 14, 2010 | Posted By Wayne Shelton, PhD

If you have taken a course in the philosophy of science or have thought about the essential characteristics of science you know that the scientific method is the foundation of how we distinguish scientific knowledge from mere opinion. Fundamental to scientific method is the assumption that the results of a valid study must be replicable. That is, according to the scientific method, the results of a research study that are statistically significant, i.e. not likely to be a random outcome, should be replicable in future studies using the same procedure. It is just assumed that similar results will be replicated if the study is repeated. Maybe this is why most studies with significant results are not replicated. Quite interestingly, many statistically significant results are now being shown actually to be more difficult to replicate, so claims an article called "The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Jonah Lehrer, in the December 13, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. In this article Lehrer discussed the phenomenon referred to as the “decline effect’ which purports to show from a wide range of studies that some of “our facts are losing their truth”. Perhaps this is an interesting article worth thinking about more?

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