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Posts Tagged "Evidence"

Absolutely Maybe

Vacation: What’s the Point?

Cartoon - what did you do on vacation? Went cherry-picking

It’s not really news when a journalist goes cherry-picking for juicy tidbits to fit a narrative, is it? We all fall into the trap of going too easy on the things we want to believe. So what is it about a piece about vacations in Vox that got me rushing to the keyboard? Science journalist [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

A Viewer’s Guide to Mammography Evidence Ping-Pong

Cartoon of woman saying you bet I have questions

You could get a very sore neck watching all the claims and counter-claims about mammography zing back and forth. It’s like a lot of evidence ping-pong matches. There are teams with strongly held opinions at the table, smashing away at opposing arguments based on different interpretations of the same data. Meanwhile, women are being advised [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

The Disease Prevention Illusion: A Tragedy in Five Parts

Cartoon of an early bird catching no worms

Act I: An ounce of “prevention.” “Prevention is better than cure.” Aphorisms like this go back a long way. And most of our dramatic triumphs against disease come from prevention: clean water, making roads and workplaces safer, antiseptic routines in hospital, reducing smoking, immunization, stemming the spread of HIV. Many of our cultural superstitions and greatest [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

The winter sneeze – hand, tissue or Dracula style? (Gesundheit!)

Cartoon of Marie Antoinette saying "Let them sneeze into their elbows"

When I was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, wiping your nose on your clothes was a marker of social class. Lots of us girls were very keen on our hankies, though. I used to embroider initials on them and crochet lace around their edges. Now it’s hankies that should make people [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

5 key things to know about meta-analysis

Cartoon - meta-analysis bookshop

Knowledge accumulates. But studies can get contradictory or misleading along the way. You can’t just do a head count: 3 studies saying yes minus 1 saying no ≠ thumbs up. The one that says “no” might outweigh the others in validity and power. You need a study of the studies if you want to be sure [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

Inching closer towards a science base for justice

Photo of installation

In a courtroom, the full power of the state comes down on an individual. No one should have to face that on their own. A criminal defense lawyer was making this argument to me after a long day in the court we were both working in. I’d asked him, how could he defend that man? [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

Biomedical research: Believe it or not?

Report card cartoon

It’s not often that a research article barrels down the straight toward its one millionth view. Thousands of biomedical papers are published every day. Despite often ardent pleas by their authors to “Look at me! Look at me!,” most of those articles won’t get much notice. Attracting attention has never been a problem for this paper though. [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

Statistical significance and its part in science downfalls

Cartoon of statistician on ward rounds

Imagine if there were a simple single statistical measure everybody could use with any set of data and it would reliably separate true from false. Oh, the things we would know! Unrealistic to expect such wizardry though, huh? Yet, statistical significance is commonly treated as though it is that magic wand. Take a null hypothesis [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

Emotional donating: The science and un-science of disaster response

Cartoon of woman stranded by flooding

Disasters are heart-wrenching. The scale of the distress and suffering can be hard to bear even when you’re just watching snug and safe in your unaffected lounge room. Those images send us rushing to donate in droves. That generosity can add up to hundreds of millions of dollars for a massive disaster. Let’s pause right [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

“Trust me, I’m a professor!” Evidence, medical schools & students

Cartoon of professor

There are just so many young people here. I’m at the 21st birthday meeting of an organization I got to help build, the Cochrane Collaboration. More about that later. But the young people are the most striking phenomenon. They’re tweeting up a storm, of course. They’re bringing a blast of energy, enthusiasm, idealism and cutting [...]

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Not bad science

Is It Possible To Forget? Investigating the Suppression of Memories

scary-clown-1-580x435

Everyone has experiences happen to them that they’d rather forget about. Every so often though, you might have a reminder of that experience: perhaps someone says something to you or you see something that jogs your memory. When this happens, and that memory rises to the surface, you may try to block that memory, or [...]

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Symbiartic

How Fossil Fish Make Front-Page News

13-042FEATURE

Perhaps you’ve heard about Entelognathus primordialis this week. Wait, the scientific name doesn’t ring a bell on its own? What if I refer to it as the 419-million-year old placoderm fish that surprised everyone with its beautifully preserved, surprisingly modern-looking jaw? Entelognathus primordialis shakes our family tree at its roots; it unseats cartilaginous fish as [...]

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