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“Promising” research never is

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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 PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I am getting extremely fed up with “promising” research. It never actually is. Or so close to never that there’s no practical difference.

The world has absurdly low standards for what constitutes “promising research” or a “growing body evidence” or what “research shows.” The only real requirement for optimism? Wanting something to be true.

It has gotten to the point where I just assume that “promising” research is actually the opposite: it’s almost certainly just a pathetically weak signal p-hacked out of a bunch of noise and spun into something worthy of a press release.

Meme of Inogo Montoya with caption: “Promising. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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