Is Most Published Research Wrong? Video about false-positives

Last modified: May 29, 2017

In this YouTube clip Derek A. Muller, founder of the science channel Veritasium, talks about the problem of false-positives in science. In a clear and entertaining manner, he explores the ambivalent concept of statistical significance, and identifies different strategies -such as P-hacking- that increase the likelihood of false-positives.

The problem is that, in a way, all researchers are biased. And they have every reason to be so, since the real cost for researchers is not to get something wrong, but not to get published. However, as Muller explains, in a world in which the main criterium for publication is statistical significance, which is open for manipulation (data do not speak for itself but must be interpreted), things can go out of hand. All together it leads to a situation in which the whole scientific enterprise risks losing touch with truth and reality.

In the light of these problems, do we have reason to be cynical? Muller disagrees: even though science is far from perfect, it is still the best way of knowing that we have.

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