Tag Archives: statistics

Surrogate end points in clinical research: Hazardous

Surrogate end points in clinical research: hazardous to your health. – PubMed – NCBI – Obstet Gynecol. 2005 May

Surrogate end points in clinical research pose real danger.

A surrogate end point is an outcome measure, commonly a laboratory test, that substitutes for a clinical event of true importance.

Resistance to activated protein C, for example, has been used as a surrogate for venous thrombosis in women using oral contraceptives.

Other examples of inappropriate surrogate end points in contraception include the  Continue reading

How statistics are twisted to obscure public understanding

How statistics are twisted to obscure public understanding | Aeon Ideas – 11 July, 2016 – Jonathan R Goodman

In every industry, from education to healthcare to travel, the generation of quantitative data is considered important to maintain quality through competition.

Yet statistics rarely show what they see.

If you look at recent airline statistics, you’ll think that a far higher number of planes are arriving on schedule or early than ever before. But this appearance of improvement is deceptive.

Airlines have become experts at appearance management: by listing flight times as 20-30 percent longer than what the actual flight takes, flights that operate on a normal to slightly delayed schedule are still counted as arriving ‘early’ or ‘on time’. A study funded by the Federal Aviation Administration refers to the airline tactic as schedule buffering. Continue reading

Online Statistics Primer for Clinical Trials

Welcome to STAT 509: Clinical Trials –  Pennsylvania State University

Though this is an actual course, I found it useful as a quick reference when I wanted to understand some aspect of statistics being using in a study. Below, I’ve listed direct links to the 19 chapters/topics of statistics used in clinical trials.

This course is a survey of statistical methods and study design issues related to the testing of medical treatments.

Patients are deceived by slick statistics

Patients are deceived by the slick presentation of statisticsMichael Kirsch, MD | Physician | July 15, 2016

This article explains how drug companies use statistics to fool us into believing their products are effective.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Massaging numbers is raised to an art form by the pharmaceutical companies who will engage in numerical gymnastics to shine a favorable light on their product.   Continue reading

The metric, the dialectic, and the chart electric

The metric, the dialectic, and the chart electricKjell Benson, MD | Physician | April 4, 2017

Scientific thought abolished foolish superstition, yet somehow the over-reliance on measurement and mechanization also had a downside.  

The Enlightenment project, dominant in Western thought since the Medieval Age, created a new scientific future where mechanization and measurement improved innumerable lives.  Yet, the elimination of magical thinking also created a sterility of thought that enabled Nazism in Europe. 

“Sterility of thinking” is a good phrase to describe how medicine has evolved into a metric-driven semi-automated algorithm-based practice. Metrics are guaranteed not to be sensitive or caring, yet that’s exactly what we need from our doctors.  Continue reading

Heroin-related deaths may be undercounted

IUPUI study finds heroin-related deaths may be significantly undercounted: Newscenter : School of Medicine –  Indiana University – March 1, 2017

A new study published in the Journal of Urban Health could have a significant impact on the way heroin overdose cases are counted and may dramatically increase the number of reported heroin-related deaths across the country.

Researchers at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University analyzed accidental opioid overdoses in Marion County, Indiana, from 2010 through 2015 and discovered that deaths where heroin was present may be significantly undercounted.  Continue reading

Statistics: Beware of Exaggerated Certainty

Beware of Exaggerated Certainty – Know Your Chances – NCBI Bookshelf

This is one chapter from an online “Book” from the NIH: Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics.

Of course, the numbers you see in health messages are not the whole story. We’d now like to add another bit of advice: once you have the numbers, ask yourself whether or not you should believe them.

Unfortunately, many statistics should not be accepted at face value, because they convey a sense of exaggerated certainty.

There are at least two reasons why reported research findings might not be right:

  1. much research is based on weak science, and
  2. many results are disseminated too early  Continue reading

Guide to Avoiding Logical Fallacies

A Politician’s Guide to Clear Thinking | Psychology Today

Introduction to critical thinking

Arguments are attempts to persuade by providing reasons (or premises or propositions) in support of a particular claim (or conclusion).

  • In a deductive or ‘truth-preserving’ argument, the conclusion follows from the premises as their logical consequence;
  • in an inductive argument, the conclusion is merely supported or suggested by the premises.

In many cases, arguments are implicit, meaning that their rational structures and their relationships are not immediately apparent, and need to be made explicit through analysis.   Continue reading