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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?

0 comments | Topics: Bioethics in the Media, Philosophy, Research Methods


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BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
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