“Shocked by the facts” – Lila H.

After reading the introduction of Richard Harris’s “Rigor Mortis”, I was pretty much insulted, flabbergasted and in a way I felt betrayed. I am more than grateful that Richard Harris decided to shine a light on a subject most of us probably don’t have floating around in our heads, but this should be a topic that comes to mind for us, especially now. From first grade, as little kids, we are taught to look up to the higher up educational authority like scientists. Mistakes will happen, it’s how we learn. But that doesn’t mean that finding out  that some scientists are carelessly making mistakes that can be stopped before they occur is revolting. Someone who has the ability to handle information and answers about things like cancer and HIV should not be making careless mistakes. Throughout this introduction and chapter 1, I learned an incredible amount of information that I wasn’t even aware of. I think that the most interesting and shocking information was how many articles that are out in the world about the most common research errors that are made by researchers like on page 27 in the book the  “Six Red Flags for Suspect Work” which are very common failings found in biomedical research and one of the many sites I found when researching on my own, common errors.

I also found interesting his reasoning behind naming the book “Rigor Mortis” on page 3, “My use of the term Rigor Mortis, or the stiffness that comes after death, is of course a bit of hyperbole in the service of wordplay. Rigor in biomedical science certainly isn’t dead, but it does need a major jolt of energy.” I found his interpretation and use of the word “rigor mortis” to be very personal and unique. When picking up the book not knowing what it is about you wouldn’t necessarily guess his meaning behind this word Rigor Mortis, which interests me to continue reading on further into the book.

If I were to do my own research experiment I would do it in a more organized and planned out fashion. I would get together a well organized team that knew that “medical research is plagued with unforced and unnecessary errors” – quote from page 3 of the book. We would carefully go over everything as a carpenter would pg 28, “measure twice, cut once”.

Scientific research in media compared to the book seems to display as much more correct and definite than what is being said in this book. When reading the book it’s a lot more bare and cut down to the truth. In media it tends to feel like there’s a coating over the research and information but in the book it feels like you are being talked to in a more honest fashion which gives you more belief in what you are learning.



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