How not to science!

The TOF Spot has an interesting article up called A Startling Proposal that offers an obvious suggestion about how science can be corrupted by scientists who fail to practice their craft properly.

The suggestion has been made that predictions made by scientific studies be checked against Actual Results in what TOF joshingly refers to as “The Real World™.” A band of intrepid researchers have compared the actual rates of glioma to the rates expected by the seminal Swedish study linking them to cell phone use. The graph to the right covers non-Hispanic white males from 1992/97 to 2008. Corrections were made for the delay of onset. The results are discussed less dauntingly here.

As we can see, the rate of gliomas has remained essentially unchanged even while cell phone use was skyrocketing. The exponential curve is where we would expect to find glioma rates if we took the predictions of the Swedish study as, well, predictions.

Should this novel approach be applied to other studies, especially those based not on data (whether case control or observational) but on “data” produced by “models”? Will the idea catch on? What a notion!

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