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The problem with science is people

This is a book review. The field is medicine but the concepts apply to any ‘fuzzy’ research (including climate change and weather).

Rigor Mortis: What’s Wrong with Medical Science and How to Fix It by Harriet Hall — “Medical research has been plagued by less-than-rigorous practices and a culture that rewards quantity over quality. In a new book, Richard Harris identifies the problems, proposes solutions, and offers hope.”

“Scientific medicine has made great strides, but much of today’s research is unreliable. As Harris says, “Biomedicine’s entire culture is in need of serious repair.” He has done a stellar job of identifying the problems, possible solutions, and promising efforts that are already underway. Research jobs and tenure in academia should be awarded based on quality, not quantity of papers published. Studies must be replicated before they are relied on to direct future research. We need better incentives: today, it pays to be first to publish; it doesn’t pay to be right. We can do better. We are trying to do better.

Anyone who does research or reads about research studies will profit from reading this book. It’s well-written and accessible, with short chapters and lots of entertaining vignettes.

There are some interesting lists about faults found and issues discovered.