Regression to the mean, publication bias and confirmation bias

You’ve had a cold, and someone suggested drinking an extract from a new wonder plant. The cold got better. You’ve Googled it and lots of people have noticed the same thing, so you’re telling all your friends about it. Well, you’ve probably just experienced regression to the mean and publication bias. There … Continue reading

Terry Pratchett and the random life we live

About the time of Terry Pratchett’s death earlier this year I came across a blog written by one of his fans. The author of the blog set out on a mission to read and critique every one of Pratchett books, with the target of one book every week. Here’s the blog: … Continue reading

The morality of the tax on sickness

I’ve been building up a head of steam on this for months now, and finally decided I just had to let it all out. But before I start on this rant, some background… During Gough Whitlam’s term as prime minister in 1972 to 1975, a bill was passed providing for … Continue reading

Evidence for vitamin C supplements

Many people take vitamin C supplements in the belief they will: prevent or reduce the frequency of the common cold, or lessen the duration and severity of the common cold. But is there any evidence that vitamin C supplements work? In Jan 2013 the Cochrane Collaboration* published online the results … Continue reading

A group of heavily tattooed men were in court today…

The title of this post appeared in an ABC news story this morning, and it immediately reminded me of my parents’ prejudice about tattoos, or more exactly, those who had tattoos. They believed you could identify the less desirable elements of society simply by the presence of tattoos. So, according … Continue reading

Social media safety for the aged

Most articles about social media safety focus on kids and teenagers. You’ll find plenty of warnings about: Luring and grooming Cyberbullying Sexting and Privacy settings But what about the elderly? We have now reached the point where many elderly people using social media are facing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Can … Continue reading

Anecdotal evidence?

The plural of anecdote is not evidence. Anecdotes are unreliable for all sorts of reasons as discussed in The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine. However beliefs about cause and effect are rife in our society. Many of the health-related ones became planted in the minds of our parents and grandparents … Continue reading