Many Empirical Research Results Are False

(p. B7) Research on 100 studies in psychology found in 2015 that more than 60% couldn’t be replicated. Similar results have been found in medicine and economics. Campbell Harvey, a professor at Duke University and president of the American Finance Association, estimates that at least half of all “discoveries” in investment research, and financial products based on them, are false.
. . .
Brian Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and executive director of the Center for Open Science, a nonprofit seeking to improve research practices, has spent much of the last decade analyzing why so many studies don’t stand up over time.
Because researchers have an incentive to come up with results that are “positive and clean and novel,” he says, they often test a plethora of ideas, throwing out those that don’t appear to work and pursuing those that confirm their own hunches.
If the researchers test enough possibilities, they may find positive results by chance alone — and may fool themselves into believing that luck didn’t determine the outcomes.

For the full commentary, see:
JASON ZWEIG. “Chasing Hot Returns in ‘Smart-Beta’ Can Be Dumb.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Feb 13, 2016): B1 & B7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb 12, 2016, and has the title “Chasing Hot Returns in ‘Smart-Beta’ Funds Can Be a Dumb Idea.”)

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