How not to do science


INTRO: According to research methodologist R. Barker Bausell, “CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] therapists simply do not value (and most, in my experience, do not understand) the scientific process.” They have seen their patients improve, and that’s all the “evidence” they think they need. They don’t understand that they may have been deceived by the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. The patient may have improved despite their care rather than because of it. They don’t understand that the only reliable way to know if a therapy is effective is to do a properly designed scientific trial with a credible control group.

They don’t value science; but they know that most of the rest of us do, so they want to do science to convince the rest of us that they are right. But they don’t understand how to do science. All too often, their attempts end in laughable fiascos. A prime example was recently published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine. The title was “Pediatric perioperative measures of sleep, pain, anxiety and anesthesia emergence: A healing touch proof of concept randomized clinical trial.”

The full text is available online. It can serve as a lesson in how not to do science. (MORE - details, critical analysis of the clinical trial)

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