The replication crisis is an ongoing problem in scientific research where it is very hard to find any consistent reliable results in any field that studies humans (psychology, medicine, economics, social science, etc).
For example, it’s very difficult to study how different foods affect us. No consistent results have shown that artificial sweeteners have any negative effects at normal amounts, the effects of saturated fat are still hotly debated, and although many studies claim that green tea is good for you, it isn’t enough to be certain, despite hundreds of studies. The space is awash with opinion, because science currently fails to show facts.
We are currently in the dark ages of human-related science.
We’ve been in dark ages before. There was a time when we didn’t know about the placebo effect, or the importance of randomised controlled trials. There was a time when trials weren’t blind, or double-blind, and science similarly failed to make progress until these new advances in the scientific method were created. We clearly need some similar new breakthrough to advance the scientific method.
That’s what my focus is – solving the replication crisis by finding a way to advance the scientific method. And that’s what I’ll do on this website.
1) I will study the cause of the replication crisis. I currently believe that the replication crisis is caused by the complexity of human lives; the fact that millions of variables affect us everyday, from the way others treat us, to the weather, to the knock-on effects of the state of the economy. The failure to control for these variables leads to difficulty in isolating the effect of only one variable, except at extremely large sample sizes over a large time frame, which is costly and impractical to study. The knock-on effects of this are scientists using different ways to bias papers to show results, like selective publishing, selectively using whichever method of analysis creates results, p-hacking, outcome switching, or somehow biasing data.
2) I will study solutions. We now live in an era of a) big data, which can store and control for all the variables necessary to build a complete picture of human life and therefore allow the effective isolation and studying of one variable, and b) blockchain, which can prevent the obvious privacy problems that result from that. I believe that the intersection of these two can create a solution to the replication crisis.
3) I will build this solution. In fact I’ve already started, but the bottleneck to funding/scientific acceptance is in the strength of point 1), and I probably shouldn’t get too far ahead before knowing that this is definitely right.
If you’d like to be a part of this, join me!