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Surgisphere scandal: Lancet still doesn’t get it

So. I opened the newspaper today and saw this article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Two Retractions Hurt Credibility of Peer Review.” It was about the Surgisphere scandal, which we’ve discussed a few times in this space, going from Doubts about that article claiming that hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine is killing people to How should those Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard data have […]

How should those Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard data have been analyzed?

As you will recall, the original criticism of the recent Lancet/Surgisphere/Harvard paper on hydro-oxy-whatever was not that the data came from a Theranos-like company that employs more adult-content models than statisticians, but rather that the data, being observational, required some adjustment to yield strong causal conclusions—and the causal adjustment reported in that article did not […]

Thank you, James Watson. Thank you, Peter Ellis. (Lancet: You should do the right thing and credit them for your retraction. Actually, do one better and invite them to write a joint editorial in your journal.)

So, Lancet issued a retraction of that controversy hydro-oxy-choloro-supercalifragilisticexpialadocious paper. From three of the four authors of the now-retracted paper: After publication of our Lancet Article, several concerns were raised with respect to the veracity of the data and analyses conducted by Surgisphere Corporation and its founder and our co-author, Sapan Desai, in our publication. […]

Harvard-laundering (the next stage of the Lancet scandal)

We’ve been talking a lot recently about how the Lancet brand has been used to launder questionable research. Things are changing; though! People have sent me links showing that Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine have retracted the controversial Surgisphere papers, or issued expressions of concern, or whatever. It’s good to see a scientific […]

This one’s for the Lancet editorial board: A trolley problem for our times (involving a plate of delicious cookies and a steaming pile of poop)

A trolley problem for our times OK, I couldn’t quite frame this one as a trolley problem—maybe those of you who are more philosophically adept than I am can do this—so I set it up as a cookie problem? Here it is: Suppose someone was to knock on your office door and use some mix […]

This controversial hydroxychloroquine paper: What’s Lancet gonna do about it?

Peer review is not a form of quality control In the past month there’s been a lot of discussion of the flawed Stanford study of coronavirus prevalence—it’s even hit the news—and one thing came up was that the article under discussion was just a preprint—it wasn’t even peer reviewed! For example, in a NYT op-ed: […]

The next Lancet retraction? [“Subcortical brain volume differences in participants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults”]

[cat picture] Someone who prefers to remain anonymous asks for my thoughts on this post by Michael Corrigan and Robert Whitaker, “Lancet Psychiatry Needs to Retract the ADHD-Enigma Study: Authors’ conclusion that individuals with ADHD have smaller brains is belied by their own data,” which begins: Lancet Psychiatry, a UK-based medical journal, recently published a […]

Should you abandon that low-salt diet? (uh oh, it’s the Lancet!)

Russ Lyons sends along this news article by Ian Johnston, who writes: The prestigious medical journal The Lancet has been attacked for publishing an academic paper that claimed eating too little salt could increase the chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke. Johnston summarizes the study: Researchers from the Population Health Research Institute […]

PACE study and the Lancet: Journal reputation is a two-way street

One thing that struck me about this PACE scandal: if this study was so bad as all that, how did it taken so seriously by policymakers and the press? There’s been a lot of discussion about serious flaws in the published papers, and even more discussion about the unforgivable refusal of the research team to […]

“Questioning The Lancet, PLOS, And Other Surveys On Iraqi Deaths, An Interview With Univ. of London Professor Michael Spagat”

Mike Spagat points to this interview, which, he writes, covers themes that are discussed on the blog such as wrong ideas that don’t die, peer review and the statistics of conflict deaths. I agree. It’s good stuff. Here are some of the things that Spagat says (he’s being interviewed by Joel Wing): In fact, the […]

On fatally-flawed, valueless papers that journals refuse to retract

Commenter Carlos pointed us to this story (update here) of some scientists—Florin Moldoveanu, Richard Gill, and five others—all of whom seem to know what they’re talking about and who are indignant that the famous Royal Society of London published a paper that’s complete B.S. and then refused to retract it when the error was pointed […]

Can you trust international surveys? A follow-up:

Michael Robbins writes: A few years ago you covered a significant controversy in the survey methods literature about data fabrication in international survey research. Noble Kuriakose and I put out a proposed test for data quality. At the time there were many questions raised about the validity of this test. As such, I thought you […]

No, I don’t like talk of false positive false negative etc but it can still be useful to warn people about systematic biases in meta-analysis

Simon Gates writes: Something published recently that you might consider blogging: a truly terrible article in Lancet Oncology. It raises the issue of interpreting trials of similar agents and the issue of multiplicity. However, it takes a “dichotomaniac” view and so is only concerned about whether results are “significant” (=”positive”) or not, and suggests applying […]

My thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers”

Chetan Chawla and Asher Meir point us to this post by Alvaro de Menard, who writes: Over the past year, I [Menard] have skimmed through 2578 social science papers, spending about 2.5 minutes on each one. What a great beginning! I can relate to this . . . indeed, it roughly describes my experience as […]

Most controversial posts of 2020

Last year we posted 635 entries on this blog. Above is a histogram of the number of comments on each of the posts. The bars are each of width 5, except that I made a special bar just for the posts with zero comments. There’s nothing special about zero here; some posts get only 1 […]

What we did in 2020, and thanks to all our collaborators and many more

Published or to be published articles: [2021] Reflections on Lakatos’s “Proofs and Refutations.” {\em American Mathematical Monthly}. (Andrew Gelman) [2021] Holes in Bayesian statistics. {\em Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics}. (Andrew Gelman and Yuling Yao) [2021] Reflections on Breiman’s Two Cultures of Statistical Modeling. {\em Observational Studies}. (Andrew Gelman) [2021] Bayesian statistics […]

One dose or two? This epidemiologist suggests we should follow Bugs Bunny and go for two.

Joseph Delaney writes: I [Delaney] am starting to see the hot take of “why don’t we experiment with giving only one dose of an mRNA vaccine”. For example, see this. We briefly brought up one such argument a couple weeks ago, but only in the context of a discussion of something else.  I hadn’t looked […]

What about this idea of rapid antigen testing?

So, there’s this idea going around that seems to make sense, but then again if it makes so much sense I wonder why they’re not doing it already. Here’s the background. A blog commenter pointed me to this op-ed from mid-November by Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist who wrote: Widespread and frequent rapid antigen […]

How science and science communication really work: coronavirus edition

Now that the election’s over, we can return to our regular coronavirus coverage. Nothing new since last night, so I wanted to share a couple of posts from a few months ago that I think remain relevant: No, there is no “tension between getting it fast and getting it right”: On first hearing, this statement […]

(1) The misplaced burden of proof, and (2) selection bias: Two reasons for the persistence of hype in tech and science reporting

Palko points to this post by Jeffrey Funk, “What’s Behind Technological Hype?” I’ll quote extensively from Funk’s post, but first I want to make a more general point about the burden of proof in scientific discussions. What happens is that a researcher or team of researchers makes a strong claim that is not well supported […]

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