Scientific research can sometimes suffer from a form of path dependence where a single study can be cited repeatedly for many years even when it is found out to be incorrect. For example, in 2015 a literature review found that 900 peer-reviewed studies used a cell line derived from a breast cancer patient in 1976 that was found to actually be skin cancer. For eight years (and maybe more) studies kept citing it even though it was incorrect.
- The Unstoppable Momentum of Outdated Science (what this note is derived from)
- Is this another side of convenience is king? Scientists are people too and it’s easier to cite a source that’s previously cited rather than re-check the findings.
Links to this note
For new knowledge to be created, there needs to be an error correcting mechanism. This makes it the most important knowledge for progress and innovation.
The process of seeking out good explanations is error correcting. It is tolerant of dissent with a healthy dose of skepticism and distrust of authority. It means that explanations are rejected when they are contradicted by better explanations.
One question I find myself coming back to is whether or not macroeconomics is a useful source of explanations.
The idea that everyone has their own learning style and learning is most effective when teachers use your style is not based on any scientific evidence.