[LINK] IPA, astroturfing and fantsy themes

Jan Whitaker jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Tue Feb 21 14:05:45 AEDT 2012

At 01:45 PM 21/02/2012, Paul Bolger wrote:
>Interestingly Dr Winston hasn't been totally saintly in the scientific
>method area either.

Thanks. I think he's just a big name that is on such a high demand 
that he may not pay attention as he should. Was the study by Oxford 
University or wasn't it? Was it a student project or a real research 
study with proper controls? Goldacre also says this:

"Ben Goldacre:  And then on top of that obviously every year there's 
something called regression to the mean, just by the natural play of 
chance...if you've just rolled a double six, it's actually very 
likely that your next roll will be lower than a double six. If you've 
just rolled a double one, it's actually very likely that your next 
roll will be higher than a double one, just from the play of chance. 
So if you go in and do an intervention like this, handing out the 
pills in an area which has just had particularly poor exam results, 
then you might expect that they'd do better anyway. "

That's just wrong. There is always an equal chance of any dice 
combination. Always. He would be terrible at coin toss guessing.
And I'm not sure regression to the mean is anything about chance of 
rolling any particular number. But I'm not going to waste time doing 
the research on what it is.

>So then you get into this childish unbearable circular stuff 
>where...in their own press release they called it a trial, in all of 
>their interviews they called it a trial, in the company's press 
>release they called it a trial.

And that is what happens in Australian govt programs All. The. Time. 
Just look at the current crop of 'ehealth record trials'. No they're 
not. They are pilot roll-outs, with very little 'pilot' either.

Maybe we are all a bit too loose with the terminology, but if major 
decisions are going to be based on them, then at least get the 
representation right.

That was 2008. I wonder what's become of the whole fiasco.

disclaimer: I take 1000mg of fish oil daily, for joint health, not my 
brain, which seems to be losing its functions, at least a little

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

_ __________________ _

More information about the Link mailing list