The Crisis of Confidence in Medical Research

It’s been many years since I have trusted anything I read in a medical or psychiatric journal. There is an enterprise wide positive bias; findings never seem to replicate; benefits are hyped; harms are hidden.

Drug companies bear most of the blame — the research they sponsor is shoddy and market driven. Scientists are also to blame when they torture data so much it will confess to anything. Medical journals are to blame when they publish positive findings from lousy studies and reject negative results from well done studies. And journalists are to blame when they uncritically accept phony claims. It won’t surprise you that the most widely cited study in the recent literature is also my favorite: ‘Why Most Published Research Findings Are False’ by John Ioannidis.

David Healy, M.D. has been a leader in exposing the harms of drug treatments and the tricks of drug companies. He has also attacked the accepted wisdom that evidence based medicine requires the foundation of randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials (RCT). I agree with much of his criticism, but not with his conclusions. Here is a brief synopsis of our debate.

Dr. Healy writes:

Most papers reporting results of drug sponsored randomized —> Read More Here


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