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The man who'd prove all studies wrong

On the phone, John Ioannidis comes across much more cheerfully than you might expect from a man who has made a career out of pointing out the more questionable aspects of others' research endeavors.

Stuart Blackman
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On the phone, John Ioannidis comes across much more cheerfully than you might expect from a man who has made a career out of pointing out the more questionable aspects of others' research endeavors. But perhaps he has good reasons to be cheerful.

First, his is a career that has been shaped to a large extent by a long and rewarding romance. Second, if refuting erroneous hypotheses and data is a yardstick of scientific success, Ioannidis is arguably a particularly successful scientist – though that might depend on whether his recent claim that most research findings are false is not itself proved wrong.

Ioannidis has previously identified statistical and experimental design problems based on high-throughput techniques such as microarrays that can lead to gene-disease predictions being no better than chance (see the Dec. 20, 2004, issue of The Scientist). He has also followed the fate of research findings to...

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