It is the annual Edge “question.” This year, “What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody’s Cognitive Toolkit”? It looks like Edge finally updated their design a touch! (happy Chad?) Nothing too fancy, which is probably a good thing. I haven’t read all the answers, but I would submit that everyone needs to digest John Ioannidis’ insight, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False:
There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research.
This general issue has long been obvious to many researchers, but Ioannidis’ brought a greater statistical clarity to the problem.