A Classic Example of Selective Reporting

One of the classic examples of selective reporting concerns the testing of acupuncture in different countries. 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.


Studies of acupuncture in the West and East come up with very different assessments of it effectiveness.

Folksonomies: research decline effect research bias

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Selective Reporting Studies:JobTitle (0.880959 (positive:0.854933)), Palmer:Person (0.305254 (neutral:0.000000)), United States:Country (0.266070 (neutral:0.000000)), China:Country (0.249040 (neutral:0.000000)), Japan:Country (0.238188 (neutral:0.000000)), Taiwan:Country (0.234482 (neutral:0.000000)), Sweden:Country (0.225514 (neutral:0.000000)), U.K.:Country (0.210215 (neutral:0.000000))

United States (0.982025): website | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago
Clinical trial (0.981043): dbpedia | freebase
Medicine (0.869881): dbpedia | freebase
Effectiveness (0.842933): dbpedia | opencyc
European Union (0.766021): dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago
Asian American (0.751700): dbpedia | freebase | yago
United Kingdom (0.749617): geo | website | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago
Native Americans in the United States (0.682020): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Truth Wears Off, Is There Something Wrong With the Scientific Method?
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Lehrer, Jonah (December 13, 2010), The Truth Wears Off, Is There Something Wrong With the Scientific Method?, New Yorker, New York, NY, Retrieved on 2011-01-02
  • Source Material [www.newyorker.com]


    01 JAN 2011

     Notes on the Decline Effect

    A collection of memes about the tendency of much published research to not be reproducible and what biases cause this phenomenon.