Unpublished results and the decline effect

Many positive scientific effects published in the literature seem to diminish in their significance with time; this is known as the decline effect. For example, initial parapsychological research indicated evidence for psychic ability, but this effect declined with subsequent studies. Some scientists link this to the strange statistical effect called regression to the mean: the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, by the second measurement it will be closer to the average. It is impossible to test this, however, without access to negative results of scientific studies.

Most negative results of scientific experiments remain unpublished. This is a pervasive problem the world over, and is likely to be skewing the available scientific data pertaining to certain phenomena. When it turned out Eli Lilly (the makers of antidepressants like Prozac) had withheld the results of about a third of the trials conducted to win government approval, the clinical community was up in arms. Unfortunately, this is par the course for Continue reading “Unpublished results and the decline effect”

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We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

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College Sex: Philosophy for Everyone

So what does philosophy have to do with the real world, with things people care about, spend time on, and even obsess over?  What does philosophy have to do with life?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Wiley-Blackwell’s Philosophy For Everyone series are going to introduce the general reader to new ways of thinking about things they’re already interested in.

The above video is a promo for one of the books recently released in August of this year on College Sex. The book examines, among other things, the ethical issues of dating, cheating, courtship, homosexual experimentation, and drug and alcohol use. Intellectually raunchy stuff.

There’s a full list of titles here.

Philosophy For Everyone

Where Philosophy Comes To Life

Welcome to the home of the Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy for Everyone book series!

So what does philosophy have to do with the real world, with things people care about, spend time on, and even obsess over?  What does philosophy have to do with life?

As it turns out, quite a lot, and this series of books will introduce you to a new way of thinking about things you’re already interested in. You can read a book or two in the series to find out how, but in the meantime on this site you will find information, sample content, news, updates, and further resources for the Philosophy for Everyone series.  We’ll let you know about upcoming books in the series, interesting coverage, author events, and anything else that will be of interest to readers.

The Books!

You can find the full list of titles here, and you can order those that are currently or soon to be available here.

Write for The Philosopher’s Eye

Image: Gaetan Lee

Are you a philosophy graduate looking for a writing opportunity?

We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?

Sex! Drugs! Pop! Violence! Videogames! Hume! We want your take on it.

We can’t pay you per se; we’re looking for people who want to work for the sheer, electric joy of peeling back layers of ambiguity to expose the quivering, naked Truth of It All. As well as the opportunity to write for an international audience, we’ll also create a profile for you on our News Editors page.

Contact us at PHCOeditorial@wiley.com to tell us about your interests and background, and send a sample post of around 300 words. Nominations of others are welcome.

PTSD: Another Victim of the Drug War

EcstacyAn illegal drug may hold the key to a “fairy-tale” ending for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, addiction or depression.  The drug is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or ecstasy, and it reduces anxiety and fear by suppressing the amygdala.  At the same time, MDMA promotes a sense of well-being and social bonding by increasing the amounts of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin found in the body.  The only trouble is, ecstasy has been banned by the FDA since 1985, and as a Schedule I drug, is very difficult to get permission to use in clinical trials, not to mention mainstream clinical practice.

One scientific research group, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Continue reading “PTSD: Another Victim of the Drug War”

The placebo effect as a ‘looping kind’

The idea has been floated that when psychiatrists classify people and effect that classification through education, medical practice, and popular culture, those people can become aware of their being so classified and thence render the original classification obsolete. The idea is Ian Hacking’s and he calls the phenomenon, ‘looping kinds.’

Whereas Hacking applies this idea to kinds of people, research reported in Wired suggests that a similar phenomenon can be witnessed in the infamous placebo effect.

There has been a rise in the placebo effect since the 1990s. Part of the explanation is this. Drug companies create advertisements. The aim is to make the drug more appealing than the others at the point of sale. But the result has been an increase in positive expectations and experiences at point of consumption.

By effecting a classification of a drug through education, medical practice and popular culture, the activity of undergoing treatment and recovery from illness, has looped: it has been caused to change by how it has been widely (mis)understood.

For the original article go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small Natural Kinds and Natural Kind Terms
By Kathrin Koslicki , University of Colorado at Boulder
(Vol. 3, June 2008)
Philosophy Compass