Saturday, January 8, 2011
The Great Unknown: Using Statistics to Explore the Secret Depths of Unpublished Research
I spent a large portion of the day today trying to figure out why a couple papers I have showed that EGCG, a component of green tea, increases glucose uptake into isolated skeletal muscle cells, but another shows the opposite.
The methods of these papers were a little different, and it's possible to speculate that some of the differences — for example, the amount of glucose in the culture dish — may have been responsible.
But it also occurred to me that perhaps EGCG doesn't have any effect on this phenomenon at all. For all I know, perhaps a hundred times so far different groups have tested the effect of EGCG on uptake of glucose into skeletal muscle cells and 100 times it had no effect, and the research seemed like a waste of time and went down the memory hole. But then a couple flukes occurred, and they were exciting, and the researchers wrote up the reports and got them published.