Random Reflections: Cochrane and the Origins of Hierarchies

In 1972, Archie Cochrane published Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services. In a little under 86 pages, Cochrane offers a wide-ranged but succinct delivery of his experience and his philosophy of evidence in clinical practice. It’s a fascinating gallop through the concerns of one of the most influential figures …

A Ghost of Progress – How Hierarchies Become Fixtures

I have written extensively on hierarchies of evidence in evidence-based medicine. The origin story of hierarchies of evidence is a little contentious. Several sources in EBM cite Campbell and Stanley’s 1963 classic “Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs for Research” as containing the first hierarchy, or at least the germ of the …

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 interpretations of those hierarchies.

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 …