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The Cost of False-Positive Results: A Personal History - Dr. Allen Wilcox

Dr. Allen Wilcox, NIEHS, Sholom Wacholder Distinguished Lecturer

Sholom Wacholder Distinguished Lecture

October 8, 2020 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Online via Webex

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Allen Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D.
Scientist Emeritus
Epidemiology Branch/Reproductive Epidemiology Group
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


We assure ourselves that “science is self-correcting.” This makes it sound as if self-correction is automatic – but of course, it is not. It is work, often unappreciated, and requiring energy and expense that is diverted from other research. I reflect on my own contribution to the literature of false-positive findings, and on my pursuit of interesting findings by others that could not be replicated. I will end with a discussion of Sholom’s 2004 paper on false-positive report probabilities to suggest how epidemiologists might avoid conclusions that turn out not to be replicable.


Hormuzd A. Katki, Ph.D., Senior Investigator
Biostatistics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, National Cancer Institute

The Wacholder Lectureship is named in memory of Sholom Wacholder, Ph.D., senior investigator in the Biostatistics Branch, who passed away in 2015. He was a brilliant, multidisciplinary and critical thinker who worked at the intersection of quantitative reasoning and science.

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