Scary news via Slashdot:
The requirement that medical researchers register in detail the methods they intend to use in their clinical trials, both to record their data as well as document their outcomes, caused a significant drop in trials producing positive results. From Nature: “The study found that in a sample of 55 large trials testing heart-disease treatments, 57% of those published before 2000 reported positive effects from the treatments. But that figure plunged to just 8% in studies that were conducted after 2000. Study author Veronica Irvin, a health scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, says this suggests that registering clinical studies is leading to more rigorous research. Writing on his NeuroLogica Blog, neurologist Steven Novella of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, called the study “encouraging” but also “a bit frightening” because it casts doubt on previous positive results.”
In other words, before they were required to document their methods, research into new drugs or treatments would prove the success of those drugs or treatment more than half the time. Once they had to document their research methods, however, the drugs or treatments being tested almost never worked.
According to the Nature article, the reason is this:
… by having to state their methods and measurements before starting their trial, researchers cannot then cherry-pick data to find an effect once the study is over. “It’s more difficult for investigators to selectively report some outcomes and exclude others,” …
But is anyone going back to review the last 40 years of studies with positive results? I doubt it.
Brad DeLong reprints this chart from Elise Gould, Prime-Age Employment-to-Population Ratio Remains Terribly Depressed. He also quotes the explanation,
The green circle shows the slow climb as the recovery began to take hold…. Then, early this year, the EPOP stalled out (see the red circled region)…. July’s rate of 77.1 percent is still below the last two troughs.
Isn’t this econo-speak for what someone — what was his name? — used to call the “reserve army of the unemployed”?
Daniel Davis notes that “[t]he sort of thing that generates the difficult cases for liberal political philosophy – increases in inequality which nevertheless benefited the worst-off, which would have showed up as a southwest-to-northeast upward slope – never happened.”
The other things that jump out is that Callaghan made people more equal while somewhat benefiting the poorest. And Thatcher made things much less equal while not benefiting the poor at all. And her recasting of Britain into a much-less-equal society sure has endured through every government since. Blair increased the incomes of the poorest, but didn’t lay a glove on inequality.
Chart created by Tom Forth.
Source: Fig. A of Lawrence Mishel, The Wedges Between Productivity And Median Compensation Growth. (Spotted via emptywheel.)
Note that the data represents growth of real hourly compensation for production/nonsupervisory workers vs. productivity, 1948-2011. These workers represent more then 80% of the labor force; the productivity number is for the entire economy. I do not think anyone serious would argue that the lion’s share of productivity gains were achieved only by supervisory and highly-paid workers. If there has been such a revolution in CEO skills, it has certainly been well hidden. (Note that if much of the gain is due to capital, or changes in technology, there is no reason why it should not be shared any less equally among workers as it had in the past).