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January 4th, 2011:

The Decline Effect

Over at the New Yorker, our buddy Jonah Lehrer has written an article called The Truth Wears Off. I give its own entry because it’s deeply disturbing, and worth reading. An excerpt to give you an idea:

[…] 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.

It’s worth the time it takes to read, because it gives you an insight into why good science should seem especially messy. About the only thing the article doesn’t cover is the possibility that our understanding of statistics isn’t as good as we think.