Is Science Broken?

Health science is a lot like building a pyramid. All the blocks on top rely on the sturdiness of those supporting them.

But, increasingly, we’ve found that science’s building blocks – research studies – aren’t quite as sturdy as we thought. Many of the studies which health decisions, drug development, and future research questions are based on aren’t true at all. In fact, drug company Amgen found that only 1 in 10 published studies could be reproduced! Considering science is supposed to provide us with unbiased facts, faulty studies present a huge problem.

Much of the discrepancy is owed to the “reproducibility crisis”, which is the notion that many modern studies can’t be replicated, due in part to the fact that our approach to modern science doesn’t encourage researchers to verify other individuals’ earlier work. It’s difficult for scientists to get their work funded and published if their research isn’t new. And since publishing is the best way to secure future funding, university tenure, and advance one’s career, there’s a huge incentive to wade into the unknown rather than to confirm what we think we already know.

So instead, the results of each study are taken as fact and research progresses on the back of faulty knowledge.

Last week, NOVA (of classroom video fame) shared a great video about the reproducibility crisis. Take 15 minutes to check it out on their website,