The Rabbit Hole: The War on Bad Science (by Jeremy Radcliffe)


If questioning everything you ever thought you knew about science sends you into a downward spiral of crippling anxiety, this may not be the Rabbit Hole for you.

A methodical dissection of the peer-reviewed studies underpinning all sorts of critical science (from fields as diverse as nutrition and psychology) reveals that they are likely highly flawed due to a combination of poorly-designed incentives and non-standardized, sub-optimal review processes.

Back in 2005, John Ioannidis of Stanford shocked the scientific community when he published his paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

The first article I read on the topic put it a little more bluntly. From The Atlantic: “Lies, damned lies, and medical science.”

The Washington Post found that many scientific studies can’t be replicated.

That is, indeed, a problem, but the scientific method along with the web could be the fix.

Houston billionaire John Arnold and his wife Laura are challenging the fundamental structure of how scientific research is conducted. To quote Arnold, “A new study shows…” are the four most dangerous words.

But before you start thinking these scientists are just a few bad apples publishing a few bad papers, consider this sting operation on the fraudulent and predatory practices of open-access scientific journals. It’s madness.

You don’t even need to publish your study’s findings to make a global impact if you’re a savvy enough journalist, as John Bohannon found out when his article on a fraudulent study (chocolate aids weight loss) he conducted for a documentary on lax industry standards went viral.

Forget about fake news for a second and consider how much fake science we’re talking about here. I hope this dive down the rabbit hole of bad science inspires you to continue discovering and supporting truth-seekers in the scientific community and beyond.


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