Saturday, May 21, 2016

Someone tell medical researchers that consensus doesn't belong in science

Wandered across this a few days ago, and am now posting about it with all due speed:

This paper describes the consensus opinion of the participants in the 4th Triennial Yale/Harvard Workshop on Probiotic Recommendations. The recommendations update those of the first 3 meetings that were published in 2006, 2008, and 2011. Recommendations for the use of probiotics in necrotizing enterocolitis,childhood diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Clostridium difficile diarrhea are reviewed. In addition, we have added recommendations for liver disease for the first time. As in previous publications, the recommendations are given as A, B, or C ratings.
The issue isn't probiotics and their specific medical recommendations but rather that climate denialists regularly tell us that consensus has no place in science. Why are medical researchers talking about it, then, and not just here but throughout medical science. Either consensus does have a place, or we need to add the entire field of medicine to the vast conspiracy maintaining the climate change hoax.

More seriously, consensus happens in all scientific fields, but it seems like applied science is where it's particularly important to elucidate the consensus. Medicine is obviously applied science, and so is the issue of whether we're changing the climate in a way that requires us to do something. There could hardly be a more an obvious place to understand and use it.


Fernando Leanme said...

There you go...when they have to discuss a "consensus on probiotics" it probably means their data is confusing and some experts warn things aren't what they seem.

Did you notice the cold water anomaly circling Antactica? It seems to be getting even colder.

jrkrideau said...

I think it is clear that the medical establishment is in league with the probiotic industry and the probiotic research is totally fraudulent.

The CDC was infiltrated years ago by the pickled turnip mafia.

Chuck said...

Fernando, no, we haven't noticed so a link might help. Antarctica getting cold right now is not necessarily anomalous, after all, it is winter down there.

jfchilds said...

"applied science is where it's particularly important to elucidate the consensus"

You've hit the nail on the head. Climate Science is not pure/basic science, where fundamental questions are objectively answered and measured. Applied science, by definition, uses basic science to find solutions to identified problems. Medicine is a fine example of this, because people are the result of a series of reactions.

However, it comes down to what is identified as a "problem." "Climate change" is a problem to many people - just like ADHD is identified as a problem. And there are certainly many solutions devised for ADHD using applied science. However, there are many who see ADHD as a positive and think that ADHD should not be treated at all.

I disagree with the idea that ADHD is a problem for everybody, just like I disagree with the idea that ADHD is not a problem for anybody. Whether it is a problem depends upon the subjective feelings of the person with ADHD. Heck, it might even be a problem sometimes and a benefit in others. And even if it is a treatment, sometimes the effects of treatment may be worse than the effects of ADHD. And whether it is better or worse depends entirely upon the individual being treated (ie, side effects of medication being worse for some than most).

Whether the earth is warming is science - we can measure it. That is step 1. Step 2 - what are the effects? This is also science. Step 3 - is this a problem? This is where subjective comes in. Assuming that the answer to Step 3 is "yes" then it goes to Step 4 - what are the available solutions and what are their effects?

The further you go from Step 1, the more qualitative the responses become. And just like in the medical field, consensus would be that Justin Houston would benefit a lot from an ACL repair considering its condition. The same experts may also form a consensus that some other regular dude would probably not see enough benefit from it to go through the trauma and rehab.

Meaning the debate is less about science than it is about policy. (Another example: nuclear power is an applied technology that solved a problem. Whether they caused more than they solved is entirely a matter of subjective opinion). And of individual preference and opinion.

Howard said...

In medical where 99% are shilling pills for big pharma, consensus is required to reduce liability. Doctors are famous for closing ranks when they fuck up.

Get a better example of consensus from a branch of science that isn't corrupted by remuneration.

David B. Benson said...

Howard is seriously confused. Two of my children are practicing M.D.s.

John said...

Based on the Wikipedia entry on "probiotic", I think a skeptical attitude is in order.

I;m willing to change my mind when (or if) probiotics are proven safe and effective.

I looked at the valuable quackwatch website, where I found a discussion of an energetic promoter of unproven remedies such as probiotics, Don Lapre. Check it out here

John said...

Another medical website that i find interesting is
sciencebasedmedicine. Check them out heree . The article, by Dr Mark Crisp, remarks "For normal people, it makes no microbiologic sense to take probiotics.".

Barton Paul Levenson said...

jfc--I, for one, have a strong subjective preference for avoiding a mass die-off that destroys modern civilization.

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