The effect of a street lamp - a desire to seek a solution to the problem where it is easiest to find

Paradoxically, the street lights are the perfect metaphor not only for the scientific description of the false phenomena, but also sometimes to describe science as a whole. The effect of a street lamp called the wrong conclusion in research, science povedshy the wrong, but the very simplest way, with the result that costs people money, time, and sometimes life.

The name "street lamp effect" comes from a joke: a police officer patrolling the streets at night and see crawling under the lantern slovenly guy, which reeks of stale. A policeman came up to him and asked what the problem is, what the guy says that dropped the keys to his car and now can not find them. The cop looks around the illuminated portion of the street, no keys can not see a drunk asks exactly where he dropped them, and the guy points a finger at the other side of the street, where there is darkness. Then the policeman wonders why he is looking for clues here if dropped elsewhere on the guy "logical" answers: "And here is lighter».

In fairness it should be noted that this guy knew exactly what all the keys takigde something. Scientists have no way of knowing whether the answers lie in the specific scientific issues in a particular field of research. So that in science there is a marked tendency - first check the hypothesis, which seems to be an answer to this question is easiest, even if there are good arguments, saying that the resulting output will be wrong.

It's not such a bad approach. Sometimes when you try to take advantage of the minimal information that is already available, instead of hanging around the alleged "light source" in total darkness, can indefinitely help science to explain something, but if after a while the theory of nothing is confirmed, it may cause huge problems.

Here is an example. There is a drug that stabilizes heart after a heart attack. It is not hard to guess that the drug was a great success: the doctors have long known that patients with heart palpitations at greater risk of death than those with normal rhythm. The drug was only doing what he had to do - slowed heart beat, and helped so well that it took ten years before doctors noticed that the people who take it, were still alive three times less likely than those who did not taking.

The heart rhythm of a patient to measure easily. But the overall mortality rate for all patients was not, it appeared later, when a blind eye to the "coincidence" has become impossible. This explains why the simple steps proposed by experts as a panacea, but then quickly prove to be ineffective. Those steps are simple and therefore, evident, whereby a long time, researchers have closed the other solutions to the problem.

All we sometimes let dreams go to logic, hoping that we find the best solution where the easiest way to go. In most cases, this has serious consequences. Sometimes, however, the truth and the lightness can not go hand in hand.



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