The Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo

All too often we see large, long-lasting research efforts that never produce, never achieve their goal.

For example, the amyloid hypothesis [accumulation of amyloid-beta oligomers is the cause of Alzheimers] has been dominant for more than 20 years, and has driven development of something like 15 drugs. None of them have worked. At the same time the well-known increased risk from APOe4 has been almost entirely ignored, even though it ought to be a clue to the cause.

In general, when a research effort has been spinning its wheels for a generation or more, shouldn’t we try something different? We could at least try putting a fraction of those research dollars into alternative approaches that have not yet failed repeatedly.

Mostly this applies to research efforts that at least wish they were science. ‘educational research’ is in a special class, and I hardly know what to recommend. Most of the remedial actions that occur to me violate one or more of the Geneva conventions.

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20 Responses to The Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo

  1. Cloudswrest says:

    Microbes and Alzheimer’s Disease
    Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2016)


    We are researchers and clinicians working on
    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or related topics, and we
    write to express our concern that one particular aspect
    of the disease has been neglected, even though treatment
    based on it might slow or arrest AD progression.
    We refer to the many studies, mainly on humans,
    implicating specific microbes in the elderly brain,
    notably herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1),Chlamydia
    pneumoniae, and several types of spirochaete, in
    the etiology of AD. Fungal infection of AD
    brain has also been described, as well as abnormal
    microbiota in AD patient blood. The first
    observations of HSV1 in AD brain were reported
    almost three decades ago. The ever-increasing
    number of these studies (now about 100 on HSV1
    alone) warrants re-evaluation of the infection and AD

  2. ursiform says:

    See string theory …

  3. Yudi says:

    “In general, when a research effort has been spinning its wheels for a generation or more, shouldn’t we try something different?”

    Greg, what do you think of fusion?

  4. Douglas Knight says:

    How much of the problem with education research is that unions have negotiated contracts in which the only way to get a raise is to get a degree? Most teachers get master’s degrees and a huge portion get PhDs.

    Of course lots of other social sciences have other problems, but this problem is very easy to identify and isolate.

    • gcochran9 says:

      When I was a freshman in high school, I and a friend were helping his mother ( a teacher at my school) with her master’s homework. We had a natural advantage: it was a course in abnormal psychology.

  5. Rolfe says:

    So what’s the cause? Atherosclerosis in the brain? Don’t leave us hanging.

  6. jd016 says:

    Non-g IQ research? Gardner’s multiple intelligences and Sternberg’s triarchic intelligence both have produced nothing since the 1980s.

  7. saintonge235 says:

    I agree, we ought to be trying different approaches if we want to cure Alzheimer’s.

    Bur do we want to cure it? I think there are far more important motivations, such as looking good to one’s peers, getting research funds from those with a vested interest in the old approaches, etc.

    Same with the other things you mention. Results are not really wanted..

  8. Ivan says:

    Why cure Alzheimer’s when you can use people’s empathy to get them to accept microchipping of people? (See HR 4919)

  9. Glen Kissel says:

    Try E. D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Core Knowledge Curriculum. (See his “The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them.”)

  10. dearieme says:

    You could usefully abandon research when its proponents declare that “the science is settled”.

  11. How about embryo selection for good genetics?

  12. Rafal Smigrodzki says:

    A few years ago I wrote this about the amyloid hypothesis:

    I stopped contributing to that blog a long time ago but what I wrote on amyloid is still true.

  13. Anonymous says:

    For a different approach to Alzheimer’s, see Pro Clara NPT088

    JP Straley

  14. dave says:

    sadly the basis for most basic science projects is personal bias–which makes killing failed projects more than impossible…

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