Figure 3. | Publication bias and the canonization of false facts

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Research: Publication bias and the canonization of false facts

Figure 3.

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University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Washington, United States; North Carolina State University, United States
Figure 3.
Download figureOpen in new tabFigure 3. ROC curves reveal that true claims are almost always canonized as fact.

In the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves shown here, the vertical axis represents the probability that a true claim is correctly canonized as fact, and the horizontal axis represents the probability that a false one is incorrectly canonized as fact. Panel A: lax evidentiary standards τ0=0.1 and τ1=0.9. Panel B: strict evidentiary standards τ0=0.001 and τ1=0.999. Error rates and initial belief are α=0.05, β=0.2, and q0=0.5. Each point along the ROC curve corresponds to a different value of the negative publication rate, ρ0, as indicated by color. Grey regions of the curve correspond to the unlikely situations in which ρ0>ρ1=1, i.e., negative results are more likely to be published than positive ones. The figures reveal two important points. First, when negative results are published at any rate ρ01, the vast majority of true claims are canonized as fact. Second, when negative results are published at a low rate (ρ0 less than 0.3 or 0.2 depending on evidentiary standards), many false claims will also be canonized as true.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.21451.004