View Full Version : Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hopes, and Wastes B

08-28-17, 04:40 PM
Richard F. Harris, author

I haven't read this yet; I'm just now ordering it from interlibrary loan. But I heard him speak this afternoon at the Commonwealth Club of California (on NPR) and this sounds like a must read. Here's what the publisher says:

"American taxpayers spend $30 billion annually funding biomedical research. By some estimates, half of the results from these studies can't be replicated elsewhere-the science is simply wrong. Often, research institutes and academia emphasize publishing results over getting the right answers, incentivizing poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics. Bad science doesn't just hold back medical progress, it can sign the equivalent of a death sentence. How are those with breast cancer helped when the cell on which 900 papers are based turns out not to be a breast cancer cell at all? How effective could a new treatment for ALS be when it failed to cure even the mice it was initially tested on? In Rigor Mortis, award-winning science journalist Richard F. Harris reveals these urgent issues with vivid anecdotes, personal stories, and interviews with the nation's top biomedical researchers. We need to fix our dysfunctional biomedical system-now."

Mr. Wizard
08-28-17, 10:16 PM
I reviewed parts of the book on Amazon. It appears Mr. Harris has elucidated dirty little secrets that aren't really dirty secrets anymore. In fact, not long ago, we had a lengthy discussion right here at HH about the inability to reproduce medical research findings. In this case, I'm not sure Mr. Harris has the gravitas needed to convince the research world that a change is needed. Surely, researchers in the bio-med field already know of these problems. They just need someone of "major stature" to step up and say enough is enough. Mr. Harris--a science journalist with an undergraduate degree in biology--is not that person. However, the world wakes up a little more each time there are stories like Vioxx--sloppy research that resulted in a license to market a drug that ended up causing heart attacks. I'm waiting for a heavyweight in the field of research to step up and make this right. Meanwhile, I keep wondering why intentionally falsifying research results is not considered "criminal." Did anyone go to jail behind Vioxx?

08-29-17, 08:06 AM
Much the same as in the political realm, the scientific world needs to have some adult leadership. Too many people chasing the dollar and protecting their iron rice bowls; not enough chasing after the truth.

Ora Moose
08-29-17, 02:32 PM
... wondering why intentionally falsifying research results is not considered "criminal." Did anyone go to jail behind Vioxx?

Mr Wizard, that in a nutshell is my view of what's basically wrong with America:

Individuals who make pivotal corporate decisions can hide behind their corporate company personna and not be liable for those decisions that may cause untold harm that is often never disclosed or uncovered. If the game wasn't rigged and they could be brought to legal personal accountability and persecution, the game would greatly change. But that's why they spend lots and lots and lots of money on lawyers and false advertising and hold their place in the over riding decision making yours and mine..

Or as they say in President Trump's world: ( I'm just glad not to be having to apologize for the excuse that would be Hillary pardon my politics there ain't much to them)

"I don't see nothing, do you see nothing?"