Ever heard of the "decline effect"?

in science •  15 days ago

I must say I was quite fascinated by the phenomenon when I first heard about it.

It seems to plague the bleeding edge research areas of science especially where getting the results you need as fast as you need them seems to be a priority. Lets think psychology, medicine (pharmaceuticals), genetics etc. It seems more prevalent in the high stakes, "need to get those papers published for my grant" areas.

When science is about money or getting the next wonder drug released it seems a few corners are being cut off the scientific method.

The "decline effect" works this way:

Initial studies come out with splendid results but the more those results are attempted to be duplicated the less spectacular the results become with time. Hence initial measured effect declines.

This however should not be confused with large areas of well established scientific disciplines and theory's.

These are alive and well and by contrast the more experiments that are conducted to further research in these areas the more previous results are confirmed again and again.

This confirms that new science is only as good as the rigor to which it has been subjected.

Cutting edge stuff really needs to mature before we should go betting the farm on it. Insufficiently large sample sizes, publication bias and just the sheer desire to publish that which is fresh, new, exciting and sensational to get that scoop should make us exercise a little reservation in some frontiers.

This is not a licence to become a general science septic, as the author state in his follow up article:

One of the sad ironies of scientific denialism is that we tend to be skeptical of precisely the wrong kind of scientific claims. Natural selection and climate change have been verified in thousands of different ways by thousands of different scientists working in many different fields. (This doesn’t mean, of course, that such theories won’t change or get modified—the strength of science is that nothing is settled.) Instead of wasting public debate on solid theories, I wish we’d spend more time considering the value of second-generation antipsychotics or the verity of the latest gene-association study.

You can read more here

That initial article got a little flak, so a follow-up was published here

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This phenomenon seems particularly prevalent in Big Pharma where they get new drugs pushed through without adequate testing in order to keep the cash flow running... after all what are a few lives when there's profits to be made???

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Exactly

Will be effected so much

Money in the wrong hands means less for those that actually follow the scientific method. The problem here being is that those issues create a standing ground for deniers.
I have actually left discord groups where a mob of science deniers would come together to defend the position of: "See this happened, therefor cant trust it... just cant"
And when they start with: "Its just a theory"
Grey hairs start appearing... haha :)

Very deep subject. Thanks for sharing 🤘😉👍

excelente informacion

thanks for sharing this information with us.

wao had never heard about this topic, very interesting regards

We are in Aceh Indonesia, not many researchers, whereas tropical forests in our country are very many types of herbs that can be processed for raw materials of herbal medicines and so on. Thank you for sharing this very helpful post.

Science is evolving

Very interesting thank you for sharing, it seems that the need for money affects everything. It’s sad that science suffers from this.

Natural selection and climate change have been verified in thousands of different ways by thousands of different scientists working in many different fields. (This doesn’t mean, of course, that such theories won’t change or get modified—the strength of science is that nothing is settled.)

Well, this is the problem with these ideas.

Climate change has become entangled with man-made climate change, and thus has become soooo false, that everything needs to be swept off the table, and start from scratch.

From real climatologists, the statements are, we don't have enough records to predict anything.

Such as, we are entering a mini-ice-age right now. It is the first ever to occur when we actually have the means to measure it.


And natural selection will be thrown out the window here shortly.
We have all seen species extinction, but we have never seen species creation. After we do, all the drivel we have (trying to disprove that the universe is sentient) will become nothing more than a door stop.


Further, what this scientist is missing is how inventions and break throughs happen. A scientist will NEVER find a breakthrough in an area they are not fanatically interested in. So, telling a scientist to ignore that area over there (which they are really interested in), because we need more scientists over here is worse than counter-productive. It destroys all of the gains that may have been made, and makes a scientist unhappy (with disastrous effects) and wastes money.

Though I have been following your blog and things I got here really help me during my school days but today, I get more confused on the things you said like

Initial studies come out with splendid results but the more those results are attempted to be duplicated the less spectacular the results become with time.

Please Sir what do you mean by The more those results are attempted to be duplicated the less spectacular the results become with time.?

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You can read the linked articles, it goes into the details

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I will do just that, but if there is any confusion I'm coming back to ask. Pretty questions sir

Hi @gavvet. Your Post has been on votes by @votingpower 16%. Wait to 100% on Next day.

First time for me to read an article about declining effect. Thanks for sharing. I think it's awful when science, medicine, doctors and hospitals become all about money. It's really a sad phenomenon because these are supposed to help us and should be available for rich and poor.

This cause more harm than good if you are going to cut corners, especially making new vaccines or drugs for medical use. If companies like them want bigger profits, make a good product without cutting corners and that'll sell a lot.

Well, I think one of the major factor to problem being discussed here and in the link provided is also the fact that publishing negative results is not very rewarding in any field of science. I mean let's say I read paper XYZ and I try to incorporate it into my research. If it works great, if it doesn't work it is highly unlikely that I will bother myself with publishing that certain experiment in XYZ paper doesn't work or doesn't work in context of my research. I will rather move on and focus on what will give me the best paper in context of my research.

The only instance where people will update that following paper and its experiment is all wrong is when -

  1. the paper makes an extraodinary claim and claim isnt reproduced in other labs - example being STAP cell paper and GFAJ1 paper.
  2. when their research is in direct contradiction of published results, oh well that makes good papers as well.

Wow, this is actually a mix of scary and hopeful, but puts an interesting perspective onto internet culture where every study could end up trending and cause people to swallow false information...

It means that they exploit an idea so many times that it reaches a point where it starts to be failed and does not offer the same result

I love the certainty of uncertainty. Yep, science tends to puncture the balloons of the over-inflated ego. Far from disproving science, to me it proves the validity of science

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I my self am exited as you were

As a retired researcher I can totally relate! I find that presenting myself as a former "expert" makes it difficult to engage socially under some circumstances.

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When profit is the sole objective and money is your only motivator in life, concern for our fellow human takes the back seat.

This is an eye-opener for me.