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How normal is the normal distribution?

Reflections on the early 19th c. French military hat-shaped curve At some point in our illuminating conversation with Mike Acree (episode 57), I brought up the fact that the normal distribution curve, on which much of statistical inference rests, is open to infinity at both ends.  The tails are supposed to hug but never cross the…

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More on sham peer review

Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, who was our guest on Ep. 37, has just returned from Jerusalem where he gave a talk at the UNESCO’s 13th World Conference on Bioethics, Medical Ethics and Health Law. In this talk, Dr. Huntoon relates some of the most outrageous examples of hospital sham peer review.  Some of these cases  have involved…

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Systematic Pushback Against Evidence-Based Medicine

When Gary Klein told us that he had co-authored a paper critical of evidence-based medicine (EBM), it was music to my ears.  After we finished taping the show, I quickly dug into his bibliography and found the paper in question, written by Klein and his team: “Can We Trust Best Practices? Six Cognitive Challenges of Evidence-Based…

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Statistical Certainty: Less is More

The day after NBC releases a story on a ‘ground-breaking’ observational study demonstrating caramel macchiata’s reduces the risk of death, everyone expects physicians to be experts on the subject.  The truth is that most of us hope John Mandrola has written a smart blog on the topic so we know intelligent things to tell patients…

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When Scientists Know The Answer Ahead of the Experiment

On the day that we taped our podcast episode with Brian Nosek about the replication crisis, the renowned statistician Andrew Gelman published an essay in the New York Times on precisely that topic. Gelman echoes some of the remarks made by Nosek.  In particular, he draws attention to the point we discussed regarding what to believe when…

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The Case Against Shared Decision-Making

To conclude this 3-part series, I will discuss the relationship between shared decision-making (SDM) and evidence-based medicine (EBM), as the two are intimately connected. As I indicated in part 1, SDM did not attract the attention of academics until the late 1990s.  It is only then that publications on SDM began to appear routinely in the…

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