Research published in a large medical journal brings to the conclusion that parachute is not more effective than empty bags when protecting you from harm if you have to jump from an airplane.
But before you sing any rash conclusions, it's better to hear the whole story.
The gold standard for medical research is a study that provides random volunteers to try an intervention or go without one and be part of a management group.
For some reason, no-one ever tried a random test of parachute. In fact, medical researchers often use the parachute example when they argue that they do not need to do a study because they are sure they already know that something works.
Cardiologist Robert Yeh, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and attended a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, had a bad idea one day. He and his colleagues would really try to study the parachute to make a few points of choice about the potential dangers of short research routes.
They started talking to their friends on a seats.
"We would chat and say, Would you be ready to be randomized in a study where you got 50 percent chance of jumping from this plane with – against the outside – parasitic? & # 39; "Yeh said.
Only this little invitation was just a few people, and they were excluded for suspicious mental health reasons.
The scientists had a much better success and asked members of their own research teams from Harvard, University of California, Los Angeles (where brother Yeh is a surgery teacher), and the University of Michigan (where a friend works) for volunteering to take part in the experiment on another plane.
In all, 23 people agreed to be randomized either backpack or a bute and then jumped from biplan on Vineyard Martha in Massachusetts or from a helicopter in Michigan.
Depending on two locations and only two types of aircraft that researchers gave a quite hidden sample to the researchers. But this type of crops was often rising in studies, which was part of the point that Yeh and a team were trying to do.
Still all, the pictures taken during the experiment show that the volunteers are too happy to take part. "I think people laugh through the road to the floor," said Yeh.
Oh, there's one important detail here. The reduction in the study was about 2ft in total, due to parking and the biplan and the helicopter.
No-one had any injuries. Surprise, surprise. So it is really technical that parachute did not offer a better protection for this snapper or backup.
"But, of course, that is a terrible result," Yeh said. "The real answer is that that test did not show benefit due to the types of patients registered."
If they have registered people who are at great risk of injury, that is people fly aircraft, the results would have been quite different (not to mention illegal).
But something like this happens in everyday medical research. Scientists who have already anticipated the outcome of their research into patients and lifting circumstances have already been too easy to achieve the results that they expect to see. This research paper carried that idea to astonishingly.
The findings of the study were published in the traditional Christmas order of the medical journal, BMJ.
"It's some parable, to say that we have to look at the small print, we need to understand the context that research has designed and to maintain to interpret the results properly, "Yeh said. Scientists often read a study collection only and then draw their own conclusions that are much more challenging than justified by the actual findings.
This is a real problem in science.
"I know that people often do not look sufficiently in detail to what is being investigated to know how to interpret the results of a trial," said Cecile Janssens, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University.
Janssens was delighted to come across the paper on Twitter. She says as a lot of research, her consequences are correct as long as she goes, but "the results can only be to situations where people jump out of a plane within a few feet above the ground generalization. "
She intends to give this student a straightforward face to her students and see how long they are taking them to have the deeper points about scientific methodology that was buried in this damaged experiment.
"It will be unforgettable," he said – much better than appointing a scientific study straight forward.
Yeh is pleased to see that the fun that he has had with colleagues turns on a teaching tool. He also tastes some of the more subtle lessons buried in the paper.
For example, the scientists were trying to submit it to the government research research registry, which is required for many studies that include human subjects. They chose one in Sri Lanka to reduce the risk that would be detected in advance, spoiling the joke. I was rejected.
"They were of the opinion that a trial conducted in this way could not lead to scientific evidence valid," he said.
"They're fine!" he adds laughter.
In fact, the paper recognizes that members of the research team have corrected as much as "that all the authors suffer a significant discomfort of the abdomen of laughter."
"Our greatest success of all of this we felt well we were able to cite Sir Isaac Newton in the paper," he said. He referred to the classic paper of 1687 Newton establishing a gravity law.
Yes, gravity is law. Get it on your own.
You can reach the NPR science scientist Richard Harris by email: [email protected]