Diseased research

snake oil2RED wine helps you live longer! No, hang on a tick, it’s actually killing you. And salt? That’s certain death in a crystal shaker … or is it?

If the endless parade of headlines identifying alleged threats to health, followed soon after by more research negating those findings, leaves you confused there is a reason. As David H. Freedman noted some years ago in The Atlantic:

“To get funding and tenured positions, and often merely to stay afloat, researchers have to get their work published in well-regarded journals, where rejection rates can climb above 90 percent. Not surprisingly, the studies that tend to make the grade are those with eye-catching findings. But while coming up with eye-catching theories is relatively easy, getting reality to bear them out is another matter. The great majority collapse under the weight of contradictory data when studied rigorously.”

That is the cross medical research must bear. Aren’t we lucky — indeed, blessed — that the settled science of global warming is immune to such career-building manipulations, as all the research by its practitioners insists?


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