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Thanks to Faculty of 1000, I recently learned of a paper by John Ioannidis: Why most discovered true associations are inflated [Epidemiology 19(5) 640-8, Sept. 2008]. Interesting read. Underpowered studies, selective analysis, inflated interpretation … all lead to the problem of inflated association, and all are ubiquitous in published literature in many subjects. For example, 5/6 of the most highly cited epidemiological studies were either fully contradicted or found to have exaggerated results. His article concludes with suggestions on what to do about all this.
Ioannidis has devoted much of his career to similar work. A 2005 paper of his first piqued my interest: Why most published research findings are false [PLoS Medicine 2(8) e124, Aug. 2005].
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