科学就是要允许犯错误

迄今为止,新的发现经常被当作是医学的主要目标。但是今天要取得新的发现实在是太容易了。任何人只要有一点点资金以及冰箱里存放着一些生物标本就能够取得数以千计的所谓的“发现”。

事实上,我们可以提出来的研究课题正以指数级的速度增长着。像一片指甲那么大的医学元件可以根据极少量的血测量出一个人一百万个不同的生物元素。由此马上可以提出一百万个研究课题。但是即便凭借正确的统计试验,几万生物元素会只是出于偶然而似乎显得很重要。然而其中只有很少一些是真正重要的。绝大部分这些初始的研究只会带来虚假的发现。

所以今天的主要课题是通过在不同的环境下重复这些“发现”来证明它们是否是正确的。需要有几个不同的研究小组运用通常的规则来一次又一次地证实它们是“成立”的。此外,所有的研究小组都必须同意不会只选择和报告那些看上去最吸引人的数据。如果只是加以选择地报告的话,那么我们最后只能得到由所有研究小组所发表的一长串完全错误的发现,而很少一些真正的成果却被淹没在这堆无法被重复的废物中。

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