Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions

Author(s): Richard Harris


American taxpayers spend 30 billion annually funding biomedical research. By some estimates, half of the results from these studies can't be replicated-the science is simply wrong. Often, research institutes and academia emphasize publishing results over getting the right answers, incentivizing poor experimental design, improper methods, and sloppy statistics. As award-winning science journalist Richard Harris reveals in Rigor Mortis, bad science doesn't just hold back medical progress-it can sign the equivalent of a death sentence. How are those with breast cancer helped when the cells used in 900 breast cancer studies turn out not to be breast cancer cells at all? How effective could a new treatment for ALS be when it failed to cure even the mice it was initially tested on? Rigor Mortis explores these urgent issues through vivid anecdotes, personal stories, and interviews with the nation's top biomedical researchers. An unsparing investigation that lays bare the dysfunctions in our research system, this book represents the first step toward fixing it. Book jacket.


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"Rigor Mortis effectively illustrates what can happen when a convergence of social, cultural, and scientific forces, as well as basic human motivation, conspires to create a real crisis of confidence in the research process."--SCIENCE "An alarming and highly readable summation of what has been called the 'reproducibility crisis' in science--the growing realization that large swathes of the biomedical literature may be wrong."--Spectrum Magazine "Rigor Mortis is rife with examples of things that go awry in medical studies, how they happen, and how they can be avoided and fixed. For the most part, academic biomedical scientists are not evil, malicious, or liars at heart."--Ars Technica "Harris makes a strong case that the biomedical research culture is seriously in need of repair."--Nature "A rewarding read for anyone who wants to know the unvarnished truth about how science really gets done."--Financial Times Named by Amazon as one of their "Best Nonfiction Books of the Month"

Richard Harris is one of the nation's most-celebrated science journalists, covering science, medicine, and the environment for twenty-nine years for NPR, and the three-time winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award. He lives in Washington, DC.

General Fields

  • : 9781541644144
  • : Basic Books
  • : Basic Books
  • : 0.24494
  • : June 2018
  • : 216mm X 135mm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Richard Harris
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 610.72
  • : 288