Mistakes in peer-reviewed papers are easy to find but hard to fix

David Allison:

Just how error-prone and self-correcting is science? We have spent the past 18 months getting a sense of that.

We are a group of researchers working on obesity, nutrition and energetics. In the summer of 2014, one of us (D.B.A.) read a research paper in a well-regarded journal estimating how a change in fast- food consumption would affect children’s weight, and he noted that the analysis applied a mathematical model that over- estimated effects by more than tenfold. We and others submitted a letter1 to the editor explaining the problem.