Machine Evidence: Trial by AI

Take a look at the following snippets from descriptions of clinical trials, thinking about how you’d rate the quality and strength of the evidence that comes from each: 1: We conducted a clinical trial in which erythropoietin (EPO) administration was administered daily to patients with severe acne resulting in clinically significant …

Stop Fighting, You’re Making Me SAD

Does medical science have to be adversarial to make progress? Does progress in patient care consist of weeding out treatments which are ineffective and replacing existing therapies with new and better alternatives? Subacromial Decompression (SAD) surgery is one of the most commonplace shoulder surgeries, performed regularly as a treatment for …

The Authority of Evidence-Based Medicine

In the early part of the 20th century, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein sought to demonstrate that metaphysical claims are meaningless. Statements which couldn’t be proven true in some way—through logic or evidence—weren’t even false, they had no meaning at all. But he ran up against a problematic irony. His book, …

The Positivity Machine: “Evidence-Based Alternative Medicine” and Grades of Recommendation

By definition, I begin, Alternative Medicine, I continue, Has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine. —Tim Minchin, Storm   In his beat-poem Storm, the musician and comedian Tim Minchin lays …

The Parachute Problem: Extracorporeal Life Support and the Demand for Trials

“One of the best things about [extracorporeal life support] is that it acts as a parachute. It’s there when everything else fails and has known results”. Robert Bartlett   1: Parachutes and the Demand for Trials   The United States Parachute Association recorded 120 deaths while skydiving in America in …