Monday, May 2, 2016

Check the Science Behind Biomedical Research

It's an unfortunate reality -- many biomedical research findings are ultimately proven to be illusory. 
 As a matter of fact, findings in medical research may be only slightly more reliable than Donald Trump's facts and only about as good as sport pundit expert picks against the spread.

Be skeptical about the value of biomedical research:

* Size matters: Small numbers of observations or study subjects are more likely to produce spurious and nonreplicable results. Studies need thousands of subjects to be credible.

* Conflicts of interest: Expect bias by studies published by entities with an interest in the results.

* Confirmation bias: Results expected from a study greatly affects the likelihood of a finding being actually true.

* Double blind? Were the findings from randomized studies and have they been INDEPENDENTLY replicated.

* Valid Statistics: Proof in medicine is based on a two sigma threshold or 95% confidence. In physics 99.99% confidence is required.

Don't fall to the latest trendy supplement or super food. Check the science.  Confirm that it was vigorous

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately you and he are correct. That uncertainty is one reason most physicians are reluctant to accept mandated "best practices" and have a hard time defining "standard of care." As I've said many times, when moving from hard science to medicine I was shocked at the flimsy basis for so much of medical therapy. Half the pharmacopoeia was placebo. I'd like to think we've gotten better. Only hindsight will tell if we are any better than our predecessors who considered therapeutic bleeding and a hot poker to a cut good treatment. In my time I've seen gastric lavage for toxic ingestion, patches for corneal abrasions, and strict bed rest for numerous conditions go the way of the medicinal leech. Well, actually the medical leech still has his-her place, just not for the same reason.