A study by Dr Daniel Sarewitz has uncovered a ‘trend towards the pervasive over-selection and over-reporting of false positive results’. This is not the first time such evidence has been published. See ‘Why Most Published Research Findings Are False’ (J. P. A. Ioannidis PLoS Med. 2, e124; 2005).
‘How can we explain such pervasive bias? Like a magnetic field that pulls iron filings into alignment, a powerful cultural belief is aligning multiple sources of scientific bias in the same direction. The belief is that progress in science means the continual production of positive findings. All involved benefit from positive results, and from the appearance of progress. Scientists are rewarded both intellectually and professionally, science administrators are empowered and the public desire for a better world is answered. The lack of incentives to report negative results, replicate experiments or recognize inconsistencies, ambiguities and uncertainties is widely appreciated — but the necessary cultural change is incredibly difficult to achieve.’
It makes one despair!