Monday, January 24, 2022

Venture Capital, Research, and Sturgeon's Law

I certainly remember Sturgeon's Law - that 90% of everything is crap - and its context.  Marc Andreessen, developer of Mosaic and founder of Netscape (remember? They were first) and now venture capitalist is applying it to various aspects of research and development and finds the rest of the world...a bit frustrating. This is a WSJ interview that I hope gets you behind the paywall.  Otherwise you will have to do that trick of putting the Duck(DuckGo) on the first sentence and finding it reprinted elsewhere.

Mr. Andreessen’s friend in the scientific research world told him about a historical study of heart and lung drugs that were approved but were not effective. Mr. Andreessen learned that “one of the things you do to counter a replication crisis is a ‘preregistration of hypothesis’—instead of pretending after the fact that you have a hypothesis, that you’re cherry-picking data to prove.” The result of this preregistration? There were fewer new drugs approved because researchers could no longer fudge the data. “Of course, what this implies is that most drugs that are already on the market today probably don’t work.” His friend agreed and said forget 50%, it’s 90% of research that is bad to begin with.

And also 

Universities created an implicit scoring system that was easy to game. University research is a “self-accredited cartel with no market pressure,” Mr. Andreessen notes. Hence the replication crisis.


james said...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That was fun. We have some remarkable coincidences in our lives, which upon further review, were not quite so unexpected. In the fourth example given, he and Seymour are likely about the same age and at least somewhat similar background. They are both Americans in a foreign land, traveling in the same season. They are likely to go to similar places.