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Friday, February 2nd 2007

Medical Studies Are Worthless

I found this blog post via Reddit. Try not to laugh.

Why you shouldn’t trust health studies…

3. You’re unique.

No wonder that anti-histamine didn’t work. It is because I have brown hair! No really,

How do we know the average trend will hold true for a male, blond-haired, blue-eyed, colorblind, non-smoking, left-handed, vegan, married father-of-two living in Las Vegas?

Okay, so he qualifies that hyperbole a little bit,

If something holds true for virtually everyone in a test group of reasonable size, chances are it will hold true for you too[, but] if the claim is of a very slight effect with less than 95% accuracy, there’s no telling whether or not you’ll get the same results. You may very well experience the opposite.

You may very well experience the opposite? This drug cures people of restless leg syndrome…but if you have blond hair and live in Las Vegas it’ll actually give it to you! Even if you didn’t have it before!

4. The underlying paradigm is wrong.

Yes he really just used that phrase. As they said trying to fix Itchy & Scratchy,

“Excuse me, but ‘proactive’ and ‘paradigm’? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?”

Nevermind the most important advances in the 20th century have all been in human health, but apparently we’re still beating on rocks and trying to figure out the secrets of fire,

What passes for modern healthcare today is still very primitive, sloppy, and error-prone, especially when compared to other technical disciplines. If you go to a doctor to report a health problem, there’s a fair chance you’ll be misdiagnosed, and you may be treated based on that incorrect diagnosis too. Even if you get a correct diagnosis, your treatment is likely to be qualified with words like “should,” ”hopefully,” and “side effects.”

But the study of personal growth is exact.

If my auto mechanic used such language after repairing my car, I’d find a new mechanic.

As Kevin, MD links to the comparison is a humorous one. That is an old joke but it is still funny. Anyway, the author’s vocab slips back into buzzword usage as he excuses physicians for being so incompetent,

I’m not saying these problems are the fault of health practitioners. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can. The problem is that we lack an accurate paradigm of human health.

Yeah he really just put all those words together to create those three sentences. Thanks Steve for clarifying that – I’ll be doing the best I can once I’m out in the world as a physician.

It is easy to mock people who use buzzwords like “personal development” or consider themselves self-help experts or life coaches or whatever catch word you want to use. I have tried to refrain.

I wish I could claim I’ve managed keep my critical/sarcastic mouth shut but mostly I just think the author’s biography speaks for itself,

Steve’s passionate pursuit of personal growth began in January 1991 while sitting in a jail cell. Arrested for felony grand theft, the full weight of responsibility for his life came crashing down upon him. He realized his own decisions had put him there and that no one was going to save him. But he knew recovery wouldn’t be easy — he felt inadequate to the task. He was 19 years old.

He’s an extroverted introvert, a logical intuitive, and an insatiably curious seeker of truth. Simply put, Steve is one of life’s runaway experiments who challenges people incessantly until they ascend to a higher level of consciousness… or flee naked into the desert screaming, “The horror, the horror!”

No one should jump on every trend they see on CNN (“Papaya Juice Cures Cancer!”). Some of the author’s points are basic common sense but as quoted above, he has a very strange view on the situation. One I guess that only those enlightened by the pursuit of personal growth have access to, nevermind actually having any real world knowledge of the situation.

My guess is he tries to cure himself of some terminal disease one day by the power of positive thought alone! Tragedy ensues.