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The Mysterious Decline Effect

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posted on May, 15 2011 @ 07:17 PM
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All sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. In the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only antipsychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants: Davis has a forthcoming analysis demonstrating that the efficacy of antidepressants has gone down as much as threefold in recent decades.

For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved? Which results should we believe? Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to “put nature to the question.” But it appears that nature often gives us different answers.

source

follow up interview with Author

This is old news I am aware but I've never had a chance to read differing opinions on this, I'd love to hears some. Perhaps it is my own ignorance but this seems to hint at the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in some ways. Reality is curious





posted on May, 15 2011 @ 07:42 PM
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Ok, NO, it does not hint at Heisenberg Uncertainty. That principle states that one can not exactly know the position and momentum of a particle at the same time; which is due to the methods used to measure the properties of a particle. Most of the world of quantum mechanics is irrelevant to everyday life and macroscopic systems (although a lot of technology is dependent on its concepts.)



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 07:58 PM
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Interesting article. The phenomena for the the term missing is related to Absurdism, in my opinion.
edit on 15-5-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)


How can a researcher control all of the variables when he doesn't know what all the variables are in the first place? And what kind of meaningful data can you get out of that?
edit on 15-5-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-5-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-5-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 08:07 PM
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The things we take as laws, are only habits. The universe is a living thing and these can change..

kx



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 08:10 PM
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Originally posted by TonyBravada
Ok, NO, it does not hint at Heisenberg Uncertainty. That principle states that one can not exactly know the position and momentum of a particle at the same time; which is due to the methods used to measure the properties of a particle. Most of the world of quantum mechanics is irrelevant to everyday life and macroscopic systems (although a lot of technology is dependent on its concepts.)


Many young scientists would say today that such a position as you suggest is based too much in a mechanical vision of the world and does not hold up when reduced to what QP indicates. --Which after all, is more basic isn't it? Not to mention, less know in its relationship to our "reality."



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 08:42 PM
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Originally posted by iforget
This is old news I am aware but I've never had a chance to read differing opinions on this, I'd love to hears some. Perhaps it is my own ignorance but this seems to hint at the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in some ways. Reality is curious


reply to post by TonyBravada
 

TonyBravada is right, it's got absolutely nothing to do with Heisenberg uncertainty.

The OP article gives a good example of where the problem lies:


While acupuncture is widely accepted as a medical treatment in various Asian countries, its use is much more contested in the West. These cultural differences have profoundly influenced the results of clinical trials. Between 1966 and 1995, there were forty-seven studies of acupuncture in China, Taiwan, and Japan, and every single trial concluded that acupuncture was an effective treatment. During the same period, there were ninety-four clinical trials of acupuncture in the United States, Sweden, and the U.K., and only fifty-six per cent of these studies found any therapeutic benefits. As Palmer notes, this wide discrepancy suggests that scientists find ways to confirm their preferred hypothesis, disregarding what they don’t want to see. Our beliefs are a form of blindness.
So acupuncture isn't 100% effective in the East, and 56% effective in the West. Possibly both regions have bias in their published results. It's quite easy to use statistics inappropriately to bias the results.

One technique is to stop collecting data once you have a positive result. Initially you may have planned to study 800 patients, but when you found the effect you were looking for with the first 400, you may stop there and publish the result. However if you had completed your initial plan and tested the full 800, you might have found that the next 400 showed no effect and invalidated the result you published. I think this statistical game and others like it form the majority of the problem. Technically it's not lying about the data, but it is an inappropriate use of statistics and experimental verification.

A lot of the article is about biological effects and especially where medicine is involved, eliminating the placebo effect even in a double blind study, is easier said than done. There can be all sorts of biases unintentionally introduced.

Here's a video about what placebos can do, which is really pretty amazing:

The Strange Powers of the Placebo Effect

With this weirdness going on, we have to be especially skeptical of studies involving medicine like drugs.

I need one of those placebo buttons to make me feel like I'm in control even when I'm not!



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 09:00 PM
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regarding the esp tests and declining effect, george p. hansen mentions something similar in his book The Trickster and the Paranormal. he speculates that certain conditions are more conducive to esp such as situations in transition. the lab may be something that initially makes it a more novel situation.he also mentions the experimenter, if esp really does exist, could be unconsciously effecting the results.why wouldnt the blending of minds be restricted to the subjects? i would guess that although schooler wasnt trying to study esp and more so his declining effect he may have actually tapped into the bizzare effects of esp and it could possibly be effecting other researchers in other fields.
edit on 5/15/2011 by homeskillet because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 09:30 PM
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reply to post by iforget
 


Well working in the field of science, and I'm not sure this directly applies here to the OP, but I would add alot of past 'studies' may not be very valid simply because of the way they are conducted especially with medicine. Protocols are often written not just to find out the 'whole truth' as such, but to prop up an already desired outcome, especially when hundreds of millions or billions of dollars are at stake. And too, look at any set of data, and you can get all sorts of interpretations from it, depending who is looking, again especially when there are vested economic (or other) interests and you have people 'peer' reviewing the data that will see what they want to and sadly often what is 'expected' of them.

I think though there are many sceptical people of the whole so called 'scientific' process nowdays, many people fail to recognize just how profoundly biased by economics and politics what passes for 'science' really is. With the rapid exchange of information and the ability of a larger group of people to question and review what was once a somewhat closed system I think we will continue to see many sacred (cash) cows fall and a better more accurate view of past things taken as 'accepted' radically change.
edit on 15-5-2011 by Tecumte because: text edit



posted on May, 15 2011 @ 09:32 PM
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Originally posted by homeskillet
i would guess that although schooler wasnt trying to study esp and more so his declining effect he may have actually tapped into the bizzare effects of esp and it could possibly be effecting other researchers in other fields.
ESP tests have big problems with bias.

This paper on Psi from Bem talks about some of the issues and he insists the findings must be replicated to be validated, and he's even made replication kits available:

Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect

(p50)
My approach to the problem of experimenter effects has been to minimize the
experimenter’s role as much as possible, reducing it to that of greeter and debriefer, and leaving
the experimental instructions and other interactions with the participant to the computer program.
Moreover, I used several undergraduate experimenters in each experiment and deliberately gave
them only informal training. This was to ensure that the experimental protocols are robust
enough to overcome differences among experimenters so that the protocols have a better chance
of surviving replications in other laboratories. Whether or not this strategy will be successful
remains to be seen.
Finally, the success of replications in psychological research often depends on subtle and
unknown factors. For example, Bornstein’s (1989) meta-analysis of the well-established mere
exposure effect reveals that the effect fails to replicate on simple stimuli if other, more complex
stimuli are presented in the same session. It also fails to replicate if too many exposures are used,
if the exposure duration is too long, if the interval between exposure and the assessment of liking
is too short, or if participants are prone to boredom. As previously noted, the mere exposure
effect had not even been tested with strongly valenced stimuli until Dijksterhuis and Smith
(2002) conducted their habituation experiment, showing that strong positive stimuli actually
reverse the mere exposure effect.

He has asked for replication results to be submitted by December 2011, which might infer that we might see a compilation of those published perhaps sometime in 2012.

However I've read that some early leaked replication results didn't look too promising.

And some people claim this type of paper illustrates the flaws present in some types of research:

Journal’s Paper on ESP Expected to Prompt Outrage


Some scientists say the report deserves to be published, in the name of open inquiry; others insist that its acceptance only accentuates fundamental flaws in the evaluation and peer review of research in the social sciences.
Some of the fundamental flaws are discussed but unless you are well versed in statistics you may not understand some of them, but part of the problem is using inappropriate statistical techniques.


Many statisticians say that conventional social-science techniques for analyzing data make an assumption that is disingenuous and ultimately self-deceiving: that researchers know nothing about the probability of the so-called null hypothesis.

In this case, the null hypothesis would be that ESP does not exist. Refusing to give that hypothesis weight makes no sense, these experts say; if ESP exists, why aren’t people getting rich by reliably predicting the movement of the stock market or the outcome of football games?

Instead, these statisticians prefer a technique called Bayesian analysis
That article also mentions the replication results so far:


So far, at least three efforts to replicate the experiments have failed.
This is probably no surprise to the statisticians who said that Bayesian analysis should have been used instead.



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 12:58 AM
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reply to post by Aliensun
 


Many young scientists would say today that such a position as you suggest is based too much in a mechanical vision of the world and does not hold up when reduced to what QP indicates.

I think you missed out a prefix – ‘non’, as in ‘Many young non-scientists would say today...’ Quantum mechanics is a highly mechanistic and reductionist worldview, though people who only know about it from what they read in the alternative press and ‘spiritualist’ sites on the internet may have a different (and totally false) impression.

*


The OP has brought up something a lot more interesting than the usual mumbo-jumbo that gets associated with the word ‘quantum’ in pop culture. In fact, it has nothing to do with quantum mechanics at all. The fields in which this effect has been observed are experimental psychology, evolutionary biology, and clinical trials of medicines and other therapies. I tend to base my philosophical ideas and worldview largely of the claims of evolutionary biology – claims that are based on these results – so I consider the prevalence of the ‘decline effect’ in evo-bio a serious matter. Apparently confirmation bias – the error of seeing what we want to see – is a likely source of the effect. This is good news, because confirmation bias can be corrected for.

But it wouldn’t be so bad, really, if we discovered that a lot of the scientific ‘truths’ we take for granted are based on poorly-designed research. Of course, it would be disturbing in the short run: medicines and other products would have to be taken off the market, reputations would be shattered, a few fortunes unmade and public trust in science would decline further. For a while, all would be confusion. We’d have to do all that hard, painstaking work again, taking care to ensure that our research was better designed and the results more trustworthy this time. But in the end, this would place our scientific knowledge on an even firmer footing than it currently enjoys.

Of course, the conspiracy-mug’s take on this would be that all science is a lie and scientists are frauds, only in it for the fame and the money or the world domination or whatever. To them I would point out that this criticism of scientific method and results is coming from a scientist, and that it is a scientifically based criticism. The difference between science and folklore – or between science and mumbo-jumbo, for that matter – is that science is self-correcting, and it marches on.


edit on 16/5/11 by Astyanax because: I, like science, am self-correcting.



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 01:11 AM
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That Pesky Second Link


Of equal interest with the original article cited in the OP is the interview with the author the OP also cited. Here’s a quote:


Q: Does this mean I don’t have to believe in climate change?

A: I’m afraid not. One of the sad ironies of scientific denialism is that we tend to be skeptical of precisely the wrong kind of scientific claims. In poll after poll, Americans have dismissed two of the most robust and widely tested theories of modern science: evolution by natural selection and climate change. These are theories that have been verified in thousands of different ways by thousands of different scientists working in many different fields... Instead of wasting public debate on creationism or the rhetoric of Senator Inhofe, I wish we’d spend more time considering the value of spinal fusion surgery, or second generation antipsychotics, or the verity of the latest gene association study.

Not that this pre-emptive strike against the political ideologues and conspiracy mugs is actually going to hold them back once they figure out what this thread is really about.

Maybe some rabble-rousing moderator should change the thread title to something like Scientific Method Questioned – By Scientists!. That should bring them running.


edit on 16/5/11 by Astyanax because: of not being bold.



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 05:42 AM
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2 words:
Novelty
Entropy

Interesting article. thanks for posting it



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 06:12 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Sure, todays science, as in the past, may become the folklore of tommorrow, and vice-versa, and as you say as alot of the things consdered as 'fact' today are overturned and revealved to be based on flawed testing and review methods, many more people might temporarily lose faith. But that has already happened to a large degree as people continue to see the inherent flaws in a revolving door system that uses it's own 'peers' for review, themselves in many cases who are beholden to the very system of profit and career over scientific accuracy.

How can any system who's primary goal is to generate profit as a business first and foremost, and installs it's own gatekeepers, ever become unbiased and objective? I don't know the answer to that, I'm not sure that it is even possible without a complete overhaul of human nature, which I don't expect to happen any time soon. About the only way I could see that ever happening, is for there to be such a huge turning away by the general public, that there is no other option available to the 'business' of science, but to make the necessary reforms for it's own survival.



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 09:57 AM
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reply to post by Tecumte
 


People continue to see the inherent flaws in a revolving door system that uses it's own 'peers' for review, themselves in many cases who are beholden to the very system of profit and career over scientific accuracy.

Whom would you suggest scientists rely on for validation of their work, if not their peers? Should we conduct polls among the public? Or maybe we should ask Oprah...


How can any system who's primary goal is to generate profit as a business first and foremost...

The primary goal of science is, I believe, to add to the store of human knowledge. Of course, if you believe, as some do, that the scientific community is suppressing information about free energy machines or cures for cancer or alien teleportation machines or something, then you’ll just scoff at this. But the depressing truth is that scientists are largely in the business of spending money, not making it. Have you any idea how much a good particle accelerator costs these days?


...and installs it's own gatekeepers, ever become unbiased and objective?

Who are the gatekeepers, and whom do they keep out, I wonder. Anyway, now you’ve shared with us your feelings about science, what do you think about this decline effect? Is it real, or is the author romancing? What do you think the consequences of this will be for science and society, if it is real? And does the rot end with relatively soft sciences, or does it go all the way down to the putatively adamantine bedrock of chemistry and physics?



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 09:21 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


All good questions Astyanax, to sum up, what really needs to happen I think is to make absolutely sure the revolving door between our regulating agencies and those who profit from the regulation (or lack of it) doesn't present a conflict of interest. This as I said is one of the biggest problems not just in the fields of science but obviously across all fields. I'm not sure this is the appropriate thread to discuss this, and I don't want to derail this thread, so perhaps we can start another and get deeper into the how and whys of conflict of interest if you feel so inclined.



posted on May, 16 2011 @ 09:24 PM
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reply to post by iforget
 


It's amusing that mainstream scientists speak and write of theories as if they are absolute facts.

More on topic, I agree, many things seem to be changing, the decay rates of radioactive elements, for instance. I don't know if they always varied or not, but they are now.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 11:00 PM
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reply to post by Tecumte
 

Do you have nothing to contribute with regard to the thread topic – the mysterious decline effect?

Did you come here only to post your negative opinions about science?

How very disappointing it would be if that were true.


edit on 17/5/11 by Astyanax because: of disappointment.



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