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Interpreting Biomedical Science - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124186897, 9780124199569

Interpreting Biomedical Science

1st Edition

Experiment, Evidence, and Belief

Author: Ülo Maivali
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124186897
eBook ISBN: 9780124199569
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 11th June 2015
Page Count: 416
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Interpreting Biomedical Science: Experiment, Evidence, and Belief discusses what can go wrong in biological science, providing an unbiased view and cohesive understanding of scientific methods, statistics, data interpretation, and scientific ethics that are illustrated with practical examples and real-life applications.

Casting a wide net, the reader is exposed to scientific problems and solutions through informed perspectives from history, philosophy, sociology, and the social psychology of science.

The book shows the differences and similarities between disciplines and different eras and illustrates the concept that while sound methodology is necessary for the progress of science, we cannot succeed without a right culture of doing things.

Key Features

  • Features theoretical concepts accompanied by examples from biological literature
  • Contains an introduction to various methods, with an emphasis on statistical hypothesis testing
  • Presents a clear argument that ties the motivations and ethics of individual scientists to the success of their science
  • Provides recommendations on how to safeguard against scientific misconduct, fraud, and retractions
  • Arms young scientists with practical knowledge that they can use every day


researchers in life and biomedical sciences, postdocs, and students in scientific methodology classes

Table of Contents

  • Preface
    • This I Believe in Science
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    • Science Made Easy
    • Did the Greeks Get their Math Right but their Science Wrong?
    • The Scientific Revolution
    • Deduction and Induction as Two Approaches to Scientific Inference
    • References
  • Part I: What Is at Stake: The Skeptical Argument
    • Chapter 1. Do We Need a Science of Science?
      • 1.1 Are We Living in the Golden Age of Science?
      • 1.2 R&D and the Cost of Medicine
      • 1.3 The Efficiency of Drug Discovery
      • 1.4 Factors that Endanger the Quality of Medical Evidence
      • 1.5 The Stability of Evidence-Based Medical Practices
      • 1.6 Reproducibility of Basic Biomedical Science
      • 1.7 Is Reproducibility a Good Criterion of Quality of Research?
      • 1.8 Is Biomedical Science Self-Correcting?
      • 1.9 Do We Need a Science of Science?
      • References
    • Chapter 2. The Basis of Knowledge: Causality and Truth
      • 2.1 Scientific Realism and Truth
      • 2.2 Hume’s Gambit
      • 2.3 Kant’s Solution
      • 2.4 Why Induction Is Poor Deduction
      • 2.5 Popper’s Solution
      • 2.6 Why Deduction Is Poor Induction
      • 2.7 Does Lung Cancer Cause Smoking?
      • 2.8 Correlation, Concordance, and Regression
      • 2.9 From Correlation to Causation
      • 2.10 From Experiment to Causation
      • 2.11 Is Causality a Scientific Concept?
      • References
  • Part II: The Method
    • Chapter 3. Study Design
      • 3.1 Why Do Experiments?
      • 3.2 Population and Sample
      • 3.3 Regression to the Mean
      • 3.4 Why Repeat an Experiment?
      • 3.5 Technical Versus Biological Replication of Experiments
      • 3.6 Experimental Controls
      • 3.7 Multiplicities
      • 3.8 Conclusion: How to Design an Experiment
      • References
    • Chapter 4. Data and Evidence
      • 4.1 Looking at Data
      • 4.2 Modeling Data
      • 4.3 What Is Probability?
      • 4.4 Assumptions Behind Frequentist Statistical Tests
      • 4.5 The Null Hypothesis
      • 4.6 The P value
      • 4.7 Neyman-Pearson Hypothesis Testing
      • 4.8 Multiple Testing in the Context of NPHT
      • 4.9 P Value as a Measure of Evidence
      • 4.10 The “Error Bars”
      • 4.11 Likelihood as an Unbiased Measure of Evidence
      • 4.12 Conclusion: Ideologies Behind Some Methods of Statistical Inference
      • References
    • Chapter 5. Truth and Belief
      • 5.1 From Long-Run Error Probabilities to Degrees of Belief
      • 5.2 Bayes Theorem: What Makes a Rational Being?
      • 5.3 Testing in the Infinite Hypothesis Space: Bayesian Parameter Estimation
      • 5.4 All Against All: Bayesianism Versus Frequentism Versus Likelihoodism
      • 5.5 Bayesianism as a Philosophy
      • 5.6 Bayesianism and the Progress of Science
      • 5.7 Conclusion to Part II
      • References
  • Part III: The Big Picture
    • Chapter 6. Interpretation
      • 6.1 Hypothesis Testing at Small Samples
      • 6.2 Is Intuitive Reasoning Bayesian?
      • 6.3 The Molecular Biology Lab as Research Subject
      • 6.4 How to Win Fame and Influence People
      • References
    • Chapter 7. Science as a Social Enterprise
      • 7.1 The Revolutionary Road of Thomas Kuhn
      • 7.2 The Anarchism of Paul Feyerabend
      • 7.3 The Communism of Robert K. Merton
      • 7.4 Science as an Oligogracy
      • 7.5 Tragedy of the Proxy
      • 7.6 Science as a Lottery
      • 7.7 Science as a Career
      • References
    • Chapter 8. What Can Be Done: A Utopia
      • 8.1 Take Methodology Seriously
      • 8.2 Bring Philosophy Back to Science
      • 8.3 Strive for More Plurality in Science
      • 8.4 Reintroduce Mertonian Values
      • 8.5 Put Scientists Back to the Ivory Tower
      • 8.6 Change the Rules of the Tournament
      • 8.7 Protect Scientists from Scientific Journals
      • 8.8 Judge Scientists by Their Promises, Not Their Deeds
      • 8.9 Teach Honesty as the Guiding Principle of Science
      • 8.10 Conclusion
      • References
  • Statistical Glossary
  • Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2015
11th June 2015
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Ülo Maivali

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Tartu, Faculty of Science and Technology, Institute of Technology, Tartu, Estonia


"...provides excellent information on biomedical research study methodology, statistics, data interpretation, and ethics. It is strongly recommended to currently working biomedical scientists. Score: 81 - 3 Stars"--Doody's

"The book breaks down myths about research, gives tools to young scientists, and arms them with practical knowledge that they can use every day. The book will cover the history of science, which is important to know if one is to learn from the mistakes of the past. It aims to break down the notion that scientists are infallible creatures of logic and shows the danger of that type of blind faith." --Keith Micoli, Postdoctoral Program Director, Ethics Program Coordinator, NYU School of Medicine, Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences

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