from Olivia Goldhill at Quartz, Many scientific “truths” are, in fact, false:
For example, there’s massive academic pressure to publish in journals, and these journals tend to publish exciting studies that show strong results.
“Journals favor novelty, originality, and verification of hypotheses over robustness, stringency of method, reproducibility, and falsifiability,” Hagger tells Quartz. “Therefore researchers have been driven to finding significant effects, finding things that are novel, testing them on relatively small samples.”
This has created a publication bias, where studies that show strong, positive results get published, while similar studies that come up with no significant effects sit at the bottom of researchers’ drawers.
Meanwhile, in cases where researchers have access to large amounts of data, there’s a dangerous tendency to hunt for significant correlations. Researchers can thus convince themselves that they’ve spotted a meaningful connection, when in fact such connections are totally random.