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Posts Tagged "Evidence"

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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Absolutely Maybe

Blemish: The truth about blackheads

Cartoon from Statistically Funny Blogspot

Some old wives’ and doctors’ tales are pretty harmless. Behind the myths about blackheads and acne, though, it gets very ugly. And what the truth shows us about how superficial we can be isn’t pretty either. The sisters in this cartoon are very unusual. They’re blasé about their blemishes and the rather untoward experience they’re [...]

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Absolutely Maybe

Vacation fade-out: Back to work with a thud?

Cartoon of pre- and post-vacation

Work can wind us up. Vacations are supposed to wind us down. But just how much benefit do we get from our vacations? How quickly does any benefit wear off? And how can we get the most out of our time away from work? Important questions: let’s dig into some vacation science to find answers. [...]

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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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