Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When Statistics Really Do Matter

The Atlantic recently published an article claiming that homeopathic medicine is, well, triumphant.  We are also told that alternative medicine will succeed where allopathic medicine is currently failing.
And what statistics does this article cite to bolster its case?  Not a one.  Instead, we get quips dismissing the importance of randomized clinical trials, and a lot of anecdotes about instances where alternative medicine provided comfort to someone with a chronic condition.
Indeed, if there's a single critique to be made of alternative medicine, it is that none of its methods ever outperform the placebo in randomized clinical trials (the gold standard for testing medical treatments).  To make matters worse, most practitioners of alternative medicine claim that their methods can't be adequately tested by clinical trials (I guess calling something a non-falsifiable hypothesis is now a defense?), something that the article I linked to makes quite clear.  Paul Meier must be rolling over in his grave.

1 comment:

  1. Well.... waaaah. There's no convincing some people of logic, science, or common sense, frankly.