9-13-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Littered With Error: Why?

A couple of times in the past, I have mentioned the work of John Ioannidis, who has made a name for himself by pointing out that clinical research is rife with findings that are wrong or contradicted by other findings. Now, via We Stand Firm, I have learned of an article by another author that attempts to explain why this is the case. Here's an example:

Mistaking what came first in the order of causation is a form of protopathic bias. There are numerous examples in the literature. For example, an assumed association between breast feeding and stunted growth, actually reflected the fact that sicker infants were preferentially breastfed for longer periods. Thus, stunted growth led to more breastfeeding, not the other way around... [link in original, citation markers removed]
For a longer excerpt and a link to the full article (PDF, free registration required), visit the post at We Stand Firm.

Weekend Reading

"Even in day-to-day cases when you know that a change is going to be good, the happiness and anticipation can be bittersweet." -- Michael Hurd, in "Coping With Sudden Loss" at The Delaware Wave

"For something to be remembered, it has to be exciting or special." -- Michael Hurd, in "Jump-Start Your Memory" at The Delaware Coast Press

My Two Cents

Not to detract from the excellent "Jump-Start Your Memory", but it has a slightly misleading title. Among the valuable tips Michael Hurd offers -- and one I rely on quite heavily -- is putting important things in the same place every time, which eliminates the need to rely on memory. It also eliminates what I regard as one of the most irritating ways to spend my time: looking for something.

If by "Delicious", You Mean "Sugary and Mushy", ...

If you've ever wondered why you can't seem to find a decent apple, a story in the Atlantic sheds some light on why that has been the case in the recent past, but has become less of a problem in recent years:
[A]lluring yet undesirable, [the Red Delicious is] the most produced and arguably the least popular apple in the United States. It lurks in desolation. Bumped around the bottom of lunch bags as schoolchildren rummage for chips or shrink-wrapped Rice Krispies treats. Waiting by the last bruised banana in a roadside gas station, the only produce for miles. Left untouched on hospital trays, forlorn in the fruit bowl at hotel breakfast buffets, bereft in nests of gift-basket raffia.
I wouldn't say that this apple "took over" the American market so much as ill-advised "enhancements" ultimately made a marketplace winner into an inferior product that is on its way out. The article decries "the machinery of industrial capitalism" for these changes even as it shows the market forcing the industry to correct its bad decisions. Nevertheless, I found it interesting.



SteveD said...

'Thus, stunted growth led to more breastfeeding, not the other way around...'
So, does smoking cause cancer or does cancer cause smoking? Enquiring minds want to know and science is the only human field which has a chance of figuring this out.
There is another possible explanation for correlation. You can imagine an unknown third factor causing both breast feeding AND stunted growth.
‘If you've ever wondered why you can't seem to find a decent apple…’
I’m a McIntosh man myself; the only apple I’ll eat (except the occasional Jonamac apple in extremis). I’m guessing they might be seasonal though, since most of the time I can’t find them – and settle for a pear.

Gus Van Horn said...

A childhood accident led to extensive dental work on my incisors I have been loathe to test by biting into apples for decades, and so I never became hip to apple varieties. I will be, now for those occasions I cut them up, such as a family trip a year or so ago for apple picking. I remember those being less pretty but much better than anything I'd had in ages.