Hot issue on the Internet this weekend: “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science”

Whether your research is in medical science or another area, you might want to read the piece in The Atlantic on Dr. John Ioannidis.

“He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences. Given this exposure, and the fact that his work broadly targets everyone else’s work in medicine, as well as everything that physicians do and all the health advice we get, Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.”

To read the full article, click here.  It’s getting wide attention.  For some links to what others have to say about it, see this local science/medical blogger’s post.

What do you think — is Ioannidis right?  If he is, or if he isn’t, what are the implications of his work and the attention it’s generating?

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