Adam Ruins Science

Oct 29 2017

In this episode, Adam investigates the truth behind experiments on mice, reveals how scientific research is funded and talks about how many results can’t be replicated. Here are his sources.


"Rodents make up 95% of all animals used for biomedical research in America."

"Laboratory Animals: Species in Research." National Association for Biomedical Research, 2015.

"Out of all clinical trials based on mouse models, the results don’t apply to humans over 80% of the time."

Steve Perrin. "Preclinical Research: Make Mouse Studies Work." Nature, 26 Mar 2014.

"Those failed trials can cost hundreds of millions of dollars apiece."

Steve Perrin. "Preclinical Research: Make Mouse Studies Work." Nature, 26 Mar 2014.

"Mouse metabolisms are seven times faster..."

Lloyd Demetrius. "Of Mice and Men." EMBO Reports, Jul 2005.

"...we have we different inflammation reactions..."

Derek Lowe. "Mouse Models of Inflammation Are Basically Worthless. Now We Know." Science, 13 Feb 2013.

"...and people are over 3,000 times bigger."

Lloyd Demetrius. "Of Mice and Men." EMBO Reports, Jul 2005.

"A new cancer drug was tested in mice and passed with flying colors. But when human subjects were injected with just 1/500th of the mouse dosage, within hours all of the volunteers went into catastrophic multi-organ failure and had to be rushed to the ICU."

Husain Attarwala. "TGN1412: From Discovery to Disaster." Journal of Young Pharmacists, Jul 2010.

"Compared to other animal test subjects, mice are a bargain. And they're great in a lab setting because they're easy to tame and store, and they breed like crazy."

Michael Anft. "Of Mice and Medicine." Johns Hopkins Magazine, Sep 2008.

"The Animal Welfare Act, the only federal law that covers testing on animals, doesn't protect mice at all."

Daniel Engber. "Some Animals Are More Equal than Others." Slate, 11 Apr 2016.

"Around two-thirds of basic research is privately funded."

"The Changing Nature of U.S. Basic Research: Trends in Funding Sources." State Science & Technology Institute, 28 May 2015.

"Corporations and trade groups tend to fund research that will make them money."

Jennifer Washburn. "Science's Worst Enemy: Corporate Funding." Discover, 11 Oct 2007.

"In 2011, the National Confectioners Association paid for a study that implied eating sweets actually makes kids skinnier."

Candice Choi. "How Candy Makers Shape Nutrition Science." The Associated Press, 2 Jun 2016.

"If your results make our drugs look good, we'll publish them. Otherwise we'll bury them so the results will never be seen."

Ben Goldacre. Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients. Faber and Faber, 2013.

"Philanthropic donors fund some worthy research, but they're also more likely to give money to causes that have affected them personally."

William J. Broad. "Billionaires with Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science." The New York Times, 15 Mar 2014.

"Because government funding isn't controlled by profits or the whims of one person, it supports the unsexy-yet-vital basic research that all science builds upon, and has led to advances like heart rate monitors, the Human Genome Project, audio recording, water purification, satellites, solar panels, supercomputers, GPS, and the internet!"

Mariana Mazzucato. The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public Vs. Private Sector Myths. Anthem Press, 2013.

"Even Google got its start with a government grant."

David Hart. "On the Origins of Google." National Science Foundation, 17 Aug 2004.

"In the past 50 years the portion of the discretionary budget the government spends on research and development has been cut nearly in half."

Jennifer Erickson and Sean Pool. "The High Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research." Science Progress, 10 Dec 2012.

"In the past two decades, 30% of National Institute of Health grants got funded, but today it's about 17%."

Brian Resnick. "Trump’s Budget Is Everything Scientists Have Been Fearing." Vox, 16 Mar 2017.

"From 2010 to 2013, the US had the biggest three-year reduction of scientific research and development since the end of the Space Race."

Lauren Morello. "More Cuts Loom for U.S. Science." Nature, 11 Sep 2013.

"In a recent study of 11,000 scientists, half of them said they’ve had to stop doing valuable research partway through because of economic pressures."

Michael Hiltzik. "Reduced Public Funding for Basic Research Leaves U.S. in the Scientific Dust." The Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr 2015.

"If the sample size was too small, the luck of the draw could've skewed the results."

Katherine S. Button, John P. A. Ioannidis, Claire Mokrysz, Brian A. Nosek, Jonathan Flint, Emma S. J. Robinson, and Marcus R. Munafò. "Power Failure: Why Small Sample Size Undermines the Reliability of Neuroscience." Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15 Apr 2013.

"Remember that famous study on 'power posing'? No one's ever been able to reproduce those results."

Joseph Cesario and David J. Johnson. "Power Poseur: Bodily Expansiveness Does Not Matter in Dyadic Interactions." Social Psychological and Personality Science, 22 Aug 2017.

"Or how about that series of studies from the '70s and '80s that showed you can actually make yourself feel happier just by smiling? In 2016, almost 20 labs tried to replicate it and not one of them was able to reproduce those findings."

Daniel Engber. "Sad Face." Slate, 28 Aug 2016.

"One research team just replicated 100 famous psychology studies, but found they couldn't reproduce about 60% of them."

Open Science Collaboration. "Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science." Science, 28 Aug 2015.

"Another revisited 67 major drug studies, and found that about 75% didn't match their results."

Brian Owens. "Reliability of 'New Drug Target' Claims Called Into Question." Nature, 5 Sep 2011.

"Another team zeroed in on 53 recent cancer studies, and couldn't reproduce 47 of them."

Sharon Begley. "In Cancer Science, Many 'Discoveries' Don't Hold Up." Reuters, 28 Mar 2012.

"One estimate suggests that, in the U.S., we spend $28 billion a year on biomedical research that can't be reproduced."

"How Flawed Science Is Undermining Good Medicine," Morning Edition. NPR, 6 Apr 2017.

Isaac Newton's inverse square law of gravitation and Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity:

David Tong. "What Is General Relativity?" Plus Magazine, 12 Jun 2015.

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