Machine Evidence II: The Abstract Setting

A recent study by Gao et al. (2022) validates the warning of ‘Machine Evidence’ (Blunt, 2019) that language models would soon become capable of beating detection attempts by human peer reviewers. This piece looks at the near-term steps that journal editors and conference organisers can take to prevent AI-generated abstracts bypassing their screening processes, along with a warning for the long-term viability of those strategies.

The Pyramid Schema: The Origins and Impact of Evidence Pyramids

Evidence pyramids are amongst the most recognisable artefacts of the Evidence-Based Medicine movement. Yet no study has established the origins of evidence pyramids, or analysed whether they offer any information beyond simple lists or tables. In this paper, I establish the origins of the first evidence pyramid and argue that the pyramidal turn is a retrograde step in evidence appraisal.

On the Global Summit: do critiques of evidence hierarchies favour chiropractic?

The Global Summit systematic review claims that spinal manipulation therapy is not effective in preventing any non-musculoskeletal disorders. But a breakaway group has challenged their findings, in part based on my arguments regarding evidence hierarchies. Are they correct? Does my critique undermine the Global Summit review? If so, does the evidence base favour chiropractic?

Conversion Therapy: Evidence is Irrelevant

Pressure mounts upon equalities minister Kemi Badenoch to resign over the UK government’s failure to ban conversion therapies. Attention has focused on the government’s failure to publish research commissioned in 2018. But evidence about whether conversion therapy works is irrelevant: conversion therapy is not a medical intervention.

The True Causal Effect

Do medical scientists need philosophers of medicine like birds need ornithologists? A quotation often attributed to Richard Feynman claims that “philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds”. Feynman, never the intellectual slouch, acutely discounts the value of philosophy of science to him, without actually claiming that philosophers are useless, valueless, …

Pathognomy, Sine Qua Non and Constitutive Matching (Philosophy of Diagnosis, Part 2)

This series of philosophical papers unpacks six philosophical issues in diagnostics and develops a pluralistic model of diagnosis. This paper presents a set of minimal constraints which any theory of diagnostics must satisfy based on pathognomy and sine qua non relationships.