Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Things Change. Get Used to It

By Peter Bowditch

How concerned should we be that only 39% of psychology research can be replicated?

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In the June edition of Australasian Science I wrote about the reproducibility of scientific studies. I was mainly concerned that there were studies in pseudoscience where replication did not indicate the presence of any effects at all, and generally this is because the original studies or experiments were conducted without proper controls or procedures. The fact that much of this “research” doesn’t stand up to closer investigation is generally ignored by pseudoscientists, although they are very quick to point out that much of what is published in real scientific journals also fails the replication test.

There was much glee in woowoo world earlier this year when it was suggested that 50% of the content of medical journals may either be incorrect or out of date. This is no surprise to people who understand how the science of medicine advances.

As an example, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that papers about effective treatments for bacterial diseases were largely reduced to the status of historical relics after the discovery of antibiotics. Similarly, imaging techniques like PET and MRI made much of what was known about the treatment of physical conditions obsolete, and the changes that might result from increasing knowledge about the human genome and neuroscience will send a lot of what we now know into the dustbin.

Science is like that. It is a...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.