Tag Archives: misconceptions

Ideology Getting in the Way of Evidence-Based Medicine

Giv­ing beta block­ers to a per­son in the early stages of a heart attack makes sense: the drugs reduce oxy­gen con­sump­tion by calm­ing and slow­ing the heart; some­thing that is ideal dur­ing a heart attack.

How­ever des­pite evid­ence show­ing that beta block­ers may actu­ally increase heart fail­ure, the prac­tice of admin­is­ter­ing them con­tin­ues. As Dr. Dav­id New­man states in The New York Times, med­ic­al ideo­logy reg­u­larly tri­umphs over evid­ence-based research and non-work­ing treat­ments are still giv­en to patients because they should work.

Oth­er rev­el­a­tions from Dr New­man:

  • No cough rem­ed­ies have ever been proven bet­ter than a placebo, either for adults or chil­dren. Yet their use is com­mon.
  • Patients with ear infec­tions are more likely to be harmed by anti­bi­ot­ics than helped. While the pills may cause a small decrease in symp­toms (for which ear drops work bet­ter), the infec­tions typ­ic­ally recede with­in days regard­less of treat­ment. The same is true for bron­chit­is, sinus­it­is, and sore throats.
  • Back sur­ger­ies to relieve pain are, in the major­ity of cases, no bet­ter than non­sur­gic­al treat­ment.
  • Arth­ro­scop­ic sur­gery to cor­rect osteoarth­rit­is of the knee [is] no bet­ter than sham knee sur­gery, in which sur­geons “pre­tend” to do sur­gery while the patient is under light anes­thesia. It is also no bet­ter than much cheap­er, and much less invas­ive, phys­ic­al ther­apy.

via Over­com­ing Bias

Vitamins: A Pointless Expense?

Med­ic­al research is begin­ning to sug­gest that vit­am­ins have ques­tion­able health bene­fits.

One study found that vit­am­in C is inef­fect­ive for cold–prevention unless you’re exposed to extreme phys­ic­al stress (read: ultramara­thon run­ners and “sol­diers dur­ing sub-Arc­tic winter exer­cises”).

The New York Times looks at this trend, not­ing that in some cases, vit­am­ins may do more harm than good. How­ever, there are always excep­tions (B12 sup­ple­ments for the eld­erly and folic acid for women of child-bear­ing age have proven health bene­fits) and caveats:

Des­pite a lack of evid­ence that vit­am­ins actu­ally work, con­sumers appear largely unwill­ing to give them up. Many read­ers of the Well blog say the prob­lem is not the vit­am­in but poorly designed stud­ies that use the wrong type of vit­am­in, set­ting the vit­am­in up to fail. Industry groups such as the Coun­cil for Respons­ible Nutri­tion also say the research isn’t well designed to detect bene­fits in healthy vit­am­in users.

List of Common Misconceptions

The list of com­mon mis­con­cep­tions includes this cla­ri­fic­a­tion:

The word “the­ory” in “the the­ory of evol­u­tion” does not imply doubt in main­stream sci­ence about the valid­ity of this the­ory; the words “the­ory” and “hypo­thes­is” are not the same in a sci­entif­ic con­text (see Evol­u­tion as the­ory and fact). A sci­entif­ic the­ory is a set of prin­ciples which, via logic­al deduc­tion, explains the obser­va­tions in nature. The same logic­al deduc­tions can be made to pre­dict obser­va­tions before they are made. The the­ory describ­ing how evol­u­tion occurs is a “the­ory” in the same sense as the the­ory of grav­ity or the the­ory of relativ­ity.