Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Dubious study

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

The alt text (hidden caption): “Sounds fine. I looked up the Academy & it says on their MySpace page that their journal is peer-viewed & downloaded biannually.”
xkcd #1847 © by Randall Munroe

Just because it looks like science does not mean it’s science. Many people don’t realize how much of a problem this is these days, the sheer number of studies that are truly worthless, or close. Junk journals are really a thing, from the merely pathetic to the outright fraudulent. Even in real journals there are way too many ill-conceived studies that don’t really do much except muddy the waters. Nearly all review papers in musculoskeletal medicine point out that most of the evidence available is poor quality: high risk of bias, underpowered, poorly controlled, etc. And that’s the papers that made the cut for review!