Wednesday, December 15, 2010

elasticity of truth

this post could have also been entitled "How print journalism keeps reloading the gun to shoot themselves in the foot"

The New Yorker has an article out discussing a troubling trend in the reversal of previously verified results of a "scientific method".  The abstract I've linked to here is fascinating in itself; I would love to read the whole article, but I can't figure out how to buy it in a reasonable manner (more on this below).

Here's a great quote from the abstract:
The most likely explanation for the decline is an obvious one: regression to the mean. 
Yet the effect’s ubiquity seems to violate the laws of statistics.

I know what "regression to the mean mean's, but I'm trying to apply it to this idea of rigorous testing of the effect of a drug, etc, and how those "results" can deteriorate over time.

Argh.  Science!?!

Anyway, the New Yorker helpfully has the following options to get access to the full article:
  • pay $5.99 for the whole (digital) issue containing the desired article; this access expires after 1 year
  • subscribe to the the digital editions for $40/year (47 issues), which subscription also includes access to the full archives
  • Amazon offers a Kindle subscription to the magazine for $2.99/month ($35.88/year?) but which presumably does not include access to the archives
So why am I grumpy about this?  Why not offer an option to buy the given article for $0.25 or $1 or something similar?  I don't want the other content in this issue (maybe) or I can read much of the other content on the for free, or IRL I could go stand by the magazine rack at the Borders and read what I like from the paper issue for free...My point is, I'm willing to pay for some content, if it's a reasonable cost vs the other options out there.  As it stands, I'm just likely to read this abstract and move on with my life, and under this circumstance the New Yorker doesn't get my money OR my eyeballs on their ad banners.

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