Thursday, August 7, 2008

Two Quick Notes about Arguing Medicine

I just want to make a quick note.

Before you mention any medical issues of dubious, oh, I don't know...vaccines cause autism; or Gardasil is full of toxins and harmful; or any such nonsense...

Go read Orac. Start here. And then maybe check out here; and here. Actually, just go read all of Orac. And then go read all of Science-Based Medicine. Please. Hell, even the Bad Astronomer is forced to write about this. As a last shout-out, go and read Denialism Blog. And note that name. It's quite appropriate.

The quick note is, and not that this has come up on this blog yet, but I want to go ahead and say it...if you persist in this type of nonsense, you will be considered a crank, a denier, and perhaps deluded. Not stupid, unless you persist in this ignorance.

Also...meta-analysis. Don't trust them on their faces! Meta-analysis can be a great tool...if it's used appropriately. Often it is not. There are many factors that can throw off a meta-analysis and lead to false results. Meta-analyses which show the existence of psychic powers come to mind...Go listen to Steven Novella on SGU. He talks about this a lot towards the beginning of the archive. That's if you need someone to tell you about it and don't have access to an actual researcher who can help you out with this. So, second quick note is...don't rely on a meta-analysis to support your point, unless it is an excellent...excellent study. Read it from every angle for every possible weakness, because, trust me, that is what we will do. Because that's how science works.

And no, I don't claim to be an expert on many of these topics. But a lot of the research is quite easy to find, and not too hard to understand if you put some effort towards it.

More on this later. Just wanted a quick update.

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