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The world is full of evidence and studies, some good and some poor.
A hypothesis is often the first step of the scientific method. It is a proposed and still-unproven explanation that can be tested through experiments and observations.
In science, a theory is a widely accepted idea backed by data, observations, and experiments. Of course, established scientific theories can later be changed or rejected if there's enough data to support it.
Studies can suffer from selection bias when people are recruited from a specific group that are not representative of the whole. Scientists select a smaller group to study, but the chosen set isn't random enough and is therefore somehow biased in favor of a specific outcome of the study.
Selection bias can also occur when certain types of people are more likely to want to be involved or are more committed to staying in a longer experiment.
If you are looking at a clinical trial, a psychology study, or an animal study, it must be a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.
In science, "statistically significant" is the effect that can be picked up with a particular statistical tool called a p-value. A good p-value (or calculated probability) is arbitrary and can vary between scientific fields. The cut-off for statistically significant is a p-value of 0.05.
One problem is that if you run a study multiple times or do a whole bunch of different statistical analyses on the same data, your results could look meaningful purely by chance.
One type of conflict of interest is financial. It could be someone who received funding from a company with a vested interest in the study's outcome. Or that person has a relationship with the company that could lead to benefits in the future.
A recent analysis found that from 7 to 32 percent of randomized trials in top medical journals were funded by medical industry sources.
In a peer review system, independent, anonymous experts read over a paper submitted to a journal. They can recommend revisions to the text, new experiments that should be added, or even that the journal shouldn't publish the paper.
But reviewers aren't asked to ensure that the results are absolutely correct. It would be too time-consuming and impractical. That means that a peer review is mostly beneficial, but not perfect.
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A lot of problems would disappear if we talked to each other more than talking about each other.
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