Audio long read: "Medicine is plagued by untrustworthy clinical trials. How many studies are faked or flawed?"

Below is a link to the audio version of Nature’s feature article: Medicine is plagued by untrustworthy clinical trials. How many studies are faked or flawed?

Audio version link;


I think the problem is that there is generally pressure to report positive results which causes many minor skewings of research each of which in isolation is arguable, but combined cause the production of false conclusions.


@John_Hemming completely agree. Unfortunately this probably applies to the science of life extension also.

I would point out that even among well-meaning scientists, flawed study designs lead to bad results: rampant in biological sciences, but also happen (to a lesser degree) in chemistry and (an even lesser degree) in physics. Cue the Harvard astrophysicist who recently thought telescope readings implied the standard model of physics was broken after the Big Bang, and was covered heavily in the scientific media; turned out to be systemic noise in the signal. I’ve worked in both biochemistry and physics labs and my thesis advisors always knew which researchers to pay attention to and which to ignore (that guy’s experiment doesn’t take into consideration X).

I listen to doctors podcasts at the gym (my nerdy weightlifting motivation) and they all cover research papers and often say “this study is flawed” or “the results don’t support their conclusion”; I’m not sure if they have a grasp on the actual research or they just don’t like the result (or they are selling something, which everyone seems to be) but the belief that “this study is flawed” is commonly out there.

The worst offenders in my mind (excluding the brazenly criminal fabricators) are the scientists working directly for pharmaceutical companies who publish their reports AFTER the pharma company has “edited” the report. This doesn’t seem to happen much in astrophysics, but appears to be common in biochemistry/medicine.