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Wrong or Right?

John Ioannidis from the University of Ioannina in Greece has been arguing for a few years that much of modern biomedical research is wrong — he wrote a PLOS Medicine essay in 2005 with the not-so-subtle title of "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False." In it, he said that research projects are hampered by biases and often wind up testing false hypotheses. But as the Physics arXiv Blog writes, that 'much' may be closer to 14 percent.

Leah Jager from the United States Naval Academy and Jeffrey Leek at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the p-values reported by 77,430 papers published in medical journals and developed a mathematical model to estimate false positives, the arXiv Blog writes.

"We estimate that the overall rate of false positives among reported results is 14% (s.d. 1%), contrary to previous claims," Jager and Leek write, adding that their "analysis suggests that the medical literature remains a reliable record of scientific progress."

But as the arXiv Blog points out, this "is unlikely to settle the debate." What if this study falls into the 14 percent?

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