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Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions
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Book Club 2019 > January 2019 - Rigor Mortis

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message 1: by Betsy, co-mod (new)

Betsy | 1742 comments Mod
For January 2019, we will be reading Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions.

Please use this thread to post questions, comments, and reviews, at any time.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 282 comments It is good, so far.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 282 comments Checks-and-balances systems are a good thing, but the rules and regulations designed to keep science honest only work if they are followed. it appears the science going on in biomedicine, particularly in academia, is failing because of a variety of pressures - almost of them with a lack of money as a root cause, I think. So, there have been no new drugs since the 1980’s despite lots of announcements of so-called breakthroughs. The whys of biomedicine ‘vaperware’ for the last thirty years are outlined very persuasively in this book, I think.

message 4: by David (last edited Jan 06, 2019 07:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Rubenstein | 917 comments Mod
According to the book, the lack of money is not the major cause of biomedicine's woes. The wasteful use of money to generate useless, incorrect, unreproducible research is a major contributor. The reasons are varied. One is that academia encourages publication of incremental, insignificant advances rather than significant increases in understanding. Quantity is encouraged, not quality.

Also, even after a publication has been retracted, it can be cited in the literature hundreds of times, and even assumed to be correct. Researchers are sometimes intellectually lazy, unwilling to accept that a hypothesis is wrong, even after it has been proven to be incorrect.

Then, there are the great technical difficulties in doing some of this research. Sometimes, the results of an experiment can depend on how a test tube is cleaned, how briskly a chemical is stirred, or how similar or different the genetics are of a set of mice.

Sometimes, the lack of money can be an issue, for example, not being able to afford a verification of the type of cell that has been purchased from a biochemical company, or using a sample of animals that is too small to have any statistical significance.

And, sometimes, experiments are simply designed poorly. The use of the "p-value" of statistical significance is often misused, and intellectually lazy researchers sometimes formulate their hypotheses after performing an experiment. This problem is reminiscent of a famous quote by Richard Feynman:

“You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight... I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!”

message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 676 comments JZ, Betsy closed the topic before I could comment, "Doh!" I wondered why I'd ordered this book & it's been well over a week since anyone commented in this thread, so I didn't see it. Old memory. Sigh.

I'm intrigued & aghast by what I've read so far. Intrigued by how complex biomedical research is. I never would have thought of cells changing so much due to their environment, but I've read enough on evolution that I should have. Aghast due to the sloppy experiments, although it is understandable in some cases. The bit about how the way they mixed solutions (shaken rather than stirred) completely changing test results is a good example.

message 6: by JZ (new)

JZ | 45 comments Hospitals, doctors, and medical care in general have spent a lot of money trying to convince how safe and wonderrful they are, and we're beginning to know that we've been sold a big, expensive bill of crap. They just built a new wing on our hospital, so that every patient gets a private room. To fight MERSA, I'm told. I'm staying out of there.

Some things are truly amazing, (i.e. corneal transplants) but so many others are just so much profit-padding and outright theft.

I use aspirin, pot, and diet to keep myself out of their clutches. I'd rather be dead than subjected to much more 'modern' science and research. I played the guinea pig too long. I'm not as afraid of dying, but of living forever in a coma. This is a difficult read for that reason.

message 7: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 676 comments I finished this today. I'm terribly disappointed in our current research practices & glad there are folks trying to clean it up. I found it a bit repetitive, but it was pretty technical at times so that wasn't always a bad thing. I gave it a 4 star review here:

message 8: by Kim (new)

Kim | 7 comments As someone who suffers from seizures, diagnosed with epilepsy during nursing school, I am unable to keep out of the clutches of modern medicine. Also the fact that I work in a hospital. I can say that seizures meds going from barbiturates to Keppra has been amazing. It’s safer, fewer side effects and allows me to work and function has a human.

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