Enlarge / A mouse. (credit: sean dreilinger)
Richard Harris titled his book Rigor Mortis, referring to the stiffening of the body after death, to convey that biomedical science as it is currently practiced suffers from a lack of rigor.
It is a pun he must like, because he employs it very early and very often.
The problem Harris is bemoaning is large and legitimate.

Drug trials are incredibly expensive in terms of the time and money spent by the government and researchers—as well as the pain, dashed hopes, and even deaths of the patients enrolled.

These drug trials are often based on suggestive findings from basic research done in academic labs, findings like compound X (green tea, vitamin E, whatever) fixes cells or cures animals with disease Y (diabetes, cancer, etc.).
If that basic research is flawed, of course, the drug trials will fail.
Harris reports that drug trials do, in fact, often fail.

Their failure, he writes, is largely, though not completely, because much of the basic research upon which they are based is enormously flawed.
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