Medical reversals point to underlying problems

Inquiry

I had already noted that medical research seems much too often to confound correlation with causation.[1] Now issues with reversals and sampling are emerging.[2]

After reviewing 3,000 articles, their work uncovered 296 medical reversals. About 92 percent of studies were conducted on subjects in high-income countries. Conversely, only 8 percent took place in low or middle-income countries.[3]

These are all serious methodological issues. Reversals suggest that studies aren’t being replicated, meaning a single study is being accepted as authoritative when a basic positivist precept calls for studies to be repeated to confirm original results. The sampling issue means that the sample is not representative and only one step up from a convenience sample, making the replication that isn’t happening all the more important. Correlation fails to establish a causal relationship: Assumed causal relationships can be spurious, with actual causes overlooked and false causes attributed; replication would help to minimize these failures. I can’t condemn these methodological failures strongly enough. This isn’t science anymore but rather the pretense of science: It’s absolute bullshit, all the worse because people trust their lives to it.

Tauren Dyson, “Scientists declare nearly 400 medical practices ‘ineffective,’” United Press International, June 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/06/11/Scientists-declare-nearly-400-medical-practices-ineffective/4451560281604/


Census

Surprise, surprise! Donald Trump is hiding something.

Matt Zapotosky and Trump asserts executive privilege to shield documents on census citizenship question,” Washington Post, June 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/trump-asserts-executive-privilege-to-shield-documents-on-census-citizenship-question/2019/06/12/971263c8-8d11-11e9-adf3-f70f78c156e8_story.html


Brexit

When I used this cartoon before, I didn’t have an article to explain. But really:
3031
Cartoon by Ben Jennings, via the Guardian, June 9, 2019, fair use.

I was reluctant to use something from the British press on this one because, just as with coverage of events in the U.S., sometimes, it’s better to get a foreign perspective. In this case, I was wanting something from outside the U.K. Amy Davidson Sorkin will do nicely.[4]

Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Contest to Replace Theresa May Raises an Unexpected Question: How Many Tories Inhaled?” New Yorker, June 11, 1029, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-contest-to-replace-theresa-may-raises-an-unexpected-question-how-many-tories-inhaled


Joe Biden

“I believe that If we’re successful in this [2012] election, when we’re successful in this election, that the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that. My hope, my expectation, is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I’m not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again,” [Barack] Obama said.[5]

Some people never learn:

“The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke,” [Joe] Biden told reporters at a diner in Concord, New Hampshire. “You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends.”[6]

Yes, I know, this is pathetic. But sometimes, somebody has to say the fucking obvious:

Every Democratic contender has to answer how they’ll get anything done with Congress so deeply divided along ideological lines, especially given the difficult of winning the Senate in 2020. But of all the answers so far, [Joe] Biden’s may be the most unrealistic.[7]

(And, obviously, it has to be somebody other than me.)

Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Big Data (Mining),” Irregular Bullshit, May 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/05/30/big-data-mining/
  2. [2]Tauren Dyson, “Scientists declare nearly 400 medical practices ‘ineffective,’” United Press International, June 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/06/11/Scientists-declare-nearly-400-medical-practices-ineffective/4451560281604/
  3. [3]Tauren Dyson, “Scientists declare nearly 400 medical practices ‘ineffective,’” United Press International, June 11, 2019, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/06/11/Scientists-declare-nearly-400-medical-practices-ineffective/4451560281604/
  4. [4]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Contest to Replace Theresa May Raises an Unexpected Question: How Many Tories Inhaled?” New Yorker, June 11, 1029, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-contest-to-replace-theresa-may-raises-an-unexpected-question-how-many-tories-inhaled
  5. [5]Byron Tau, “Obama: Republican ‘fever’ will break after the election,” Politico, June 1, 2012, https://www.politico.com/blogs/politico44/2012/06/obama-republican-fever-will-break-after-the-election-125059
  6. [6]Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg, “Joe Biden predicts a post-Trump ‘epiphany’ for Republicans,” CNN, May 14, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/joe-biden-republicans-trump-epiphany/index.html
  7. [7]Matt Ford, “Someone Please Tell Joe Biden That Bipartisanship Is Dead,” New Republic, June 12, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/154183/someone-please-tell-joe-biden-bipartisanship-dead

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