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 …

Hierarchies of Evidence: Database of Hierarchies

Hierarchies of Evidence are a tool employed by many advocates of Evidence-Based Medicine. They are used to appraise evidence from a range of sources, as well as to teach medical students about evidence and evidence appraisal. My PhD thesis concerns the variation in hierarchies defended, and the range of philosophical …

Two Dogmas of Evidence Hierarchies

Hierarchies of evidence in Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) come in many varieties and have been very influential in medical practice and policy since the late 1990s. However, two fundamental problematic assumptions underpin the use of hierarchies of any kind in clinical practice: (1) that evidence can and should be appraised in …

Strength of Recommendation – the Rudner Problem

Strength of Recommendation hierarchies such as SORT and GRADE go a step further than your standard hierarchy of evidence. Standard hierarchies tend to rank or rate the evidence provided by a study on a scale of quality, strength or validity. Strength of Recommendation hierarchies are usually two-step processes. First, they …