Why experts keep failing us-know when not to trust them

A forum to discuss Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency and its relationship to Multiple Sclerosis.

Why experts keep failing us-know when not to trust them

Postby Ruthless67 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:31 am

This is an interesting book. Just think about where we are in CCSVI research when you read the excerpts and it sheds some light on the subject of research and published reports. Both Pro & Con the CCSVI Theory.

In the book called, Wrong, by David H. Freedman. The subtitle is, Why experts keep failing us - and how to know when not to trust them.

In the book, Freedman argues, “Experts are rarely interested in getting at the truth, whatever it may be. What they want to do is prove that certain things are true. Which things? Well, whatever they happen to believe is true, for reasons, or whatever will benefit their careers or status or funding the most.

Yes, scientists, even prestigious ones, being human, are subject to pressures to cheat. Getting published. Getting grants. Getting press.

Finally there is the problem of consensus. “There’s a cultural norm of how we’re supposed to behave as professionals, and part of it is that we’re overly trained in consensus,” said Daniel Eisenstadt, director, a Harvard business school graduate quoted in Wrong.

That culture favors building on others opinions rather than challenging them.

Once a majority opinion is formed, even highly competent, confident people are reluctant to voice opinions that go against it, Freedman reports.

Wrong reports that groups amplify bias, squash minority points of view and can even overcome the correct point of view when it’s the majority view. “In most situations, truth doesn’t win out in groups.” Especially when big money, in the form of corporate grants and yes, government grants, is at stake.

For instance, why would a university that depends heavily on government grants go out of its way to condemn a professor who landed government millions for research?”

“Don’t overestimate the expertise of experts.”
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Postby ozarkcanoer » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:32 pm

What a great find, Ruthless !!! I'll have to see if I can find this book. Have you read "How Doctors Think" ? Another must read for any patient.

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Postby erinc14 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:35 pm

thanks :!:
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Postby cheerleader » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:01 pm

Ruth--this is fantastic. Gonna put it up on the Facebook wall. We're going thru the medical panel members on the CIHR in Canada that recently voted unanimously to not fund CCSVI trials and finding an autoimmune consensus there. This quote will help folks understand how group think can squash curiosity--
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Postby scorpion » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:18 pm

I say what is the point of higher education and going to college to become"an expert" in anything when you are actually just becoming part of the problem.However I COMPLETELY agree with this part of the book...


"Once a majority opinion is formed, even highly competent, confident people are reluctant to voice opinions that go against it, Freedman reports.

Wrong reports that groups amplify bias, squash minority points of view and can even overcome the correct point of view when it’s the majority view. “In most situations, truth doesn’t win out in groups."

Yes there are problems in the scientific community. However it is more a problem when people come onto internet forums like this one and act like experts. Heck I guess if you act like an expert long enough people actually start to believe you are one! :wink:
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Postby sbr487 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:21 pm

Thanks, Lora
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it
- Max Planck
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And those Gold Standard Randomized Clinical Trials ? ? ?

Postby Squeakycat » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:26 am

In contrast to the belief that randomised controlled trials are more reliable estimators of how much a treatment works, both reports found that observational studies did not overestimate the size of the treatment effect compared with their randomised counterparts.


BMJ. 2001 April 14; 322(7291): 879–880.

Copyright © 2001, BMJ

Any casualties in the clash of randomised and observational evidence?
No—recent comparisons have studied selected questions, but we do need more data


John P A Ioannidis, associate professor and chairman
(Email: jioannid@cc.uoi.gr)
Anna-Bettina Haidich, research fellow

Clinical Trials and Evidence-Based Medicine Unit, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina 45110, Greece

Joseph Lau, professor
Division of Clinical Care Research, Department of Medicine, New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA


Randomised controlled trials and observational studies are often seen as mutually exclusive, if not opposing, methods of clinical research. Two recent reports, however, identified clinical questions (19 in one report,1 five in the other2) where both randomised trials and observational methods had been used to evaluate the same question, and performed a head to head comparison of them. In contrast to the belief that randomised controlled trials are more reliable estimators of how much a treatment works, both reports found that observational studies did not overestimate the size of the treatment effect compared with their randomised counterparts. The authors say that the merits of well designed observational studies may need to be re-evaluated: case-control and cohort studies may need to assume more respect in assessing medical therapies and largescale observational databases should be better exploited.1,2 The first claim flies in the face of half a century of thinking, so are these authors right?

The combined results from the two reports indeed show a striking concordance between the estimates obtained with the two research designs. A correlation analysis we performed on their combined databases found that the correlation coefficient between the odds ratio of randomised trials and the odds ratio of observational designs is 0.84 (P<0.001). This represents excellent concordance (figure). In fact, it is better than that observed when the results of small randomised trials and their meta-analyses were compared with the results of large randomised trials.3 To complicate matters, the concordance has been worse when the results of specific large randomised trials on the same topic were compared among themselves.3 Concato et al further observe that, for the five clinical questions they evaluated, observational studies for each question had very similar odds ratios between themselves,2 whereas the results of the randomised trials were often very heterogeneous. Popular wisdom has it that a “gold standard” method should give more or less the same results when repeated several times, while a poor method would suffer from lots of variability. So should observational studies be the gold standard instead of randomised trials?

Such a thought would be anathema to most clinical trialists.4 A closer inspection of the data suggests several caveats. Firstly, in six of 25 comparisons the 95% confidence intervals of the summary effect from observational studies does not include the summary point estimate of the randomised trials. Moreover, in three cases the pooled point estimates are in the opposite direction (one suggests harm, the other benefit); in two more cases one pooled odds ratio estimate is exactly 1.00, and the other documents benefit. So, perhaps concordance is not all that perfect, depending on how one looks at it.

Secondly, variability may be a blessing and not a nuisance. Variable results in randomised trials suggest that these trials have indeed managed to study diverse patient populations and treatment circumstances where the efficacy of a treatment may differ.5 Observational studies may tend to amalgamate large populations and reach average population-wide effects where there is less variability but where it is also more difficult to discern which patients are likely to benefit from an intervention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1120057/?tool=pubmed
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Postby CureIous » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:30 am

Wow triple post, new record.
Last edited by CureIous on Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby CureIous » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:31 am

scorpion wrote:
Wrong reports that groups amplify bias, squash minority points of view and can even overcome the correct point of view when it’s the majority view. “In most situations, truth doesn’t win out in groups."

Yes there are problems in the scientific community. However it is more a problem when people come onto internet forums like this one and act like experts. Heck I guess if you act like an expert long enough people actually start to believe you are one! :wink:


Don't laugh, I just ordered my degree online...

I'm always curious about human nature. One thing I learned from my older friend at a younger age, was that if you act like you know what you are doing, people will be convinced with nary a question. This pretty much applies to all aspects of the o'sphere. To put it in print, is to print it in fact. Guess it then comes down to the rationale or merits of whatever is postulated, then again the bias rears it's ugly head, and supposed truth telling FAQ's and answers become the source of the propaganda, or more politically put, "the biased point of view". Then it is quoted and replicated and gains weight with each incarnation. I think we saw a lot of this in real time with the early stages of the drama that has become CCSVI.

Heck, I get mistaken for a store employee all the time when I'm shopping. People are always asking me where items are in the store.
Don't know why either, I think it's the tall thing for some reason. One time, a lady asked me for the location of a certain item, I said, "sure, that's right over here" and relived my younger years of working in a grocery store, where my manager taught me to walk the customer to the location of the product, don't just point in a general direction. So I did just that, walked the nice lady over to the proper location (can't recall what store it was), she thanked me and then realized that I wasn't an employee. Hey it was fun to "play the part" for a few minutes, no harm no foul, and I'm sure she thought better of the store on the way out regardless.

Not sure who I would brand as expert on anything with CCSVI, when even the treating physicians with experience say they don't know anything for sure.

Guess expert on the theory, history, all that wouldn't be an unfair categorization. That's not me, but some certainly fit the description.

It is true though, the minority POV usually gets drowned out by the group think, it's human nature to promote stasis with the group. The static mongers are then invited to join the leper colony outside the city limits...
RRMS Dx'd 2007, first episode 2004. Bilateral stent placement, 3 on left, 1 stent on right, at Stanford August 2009. Watch my operation video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwc6QlLVtko, Virtually symptom free since, no relap
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Postby CureIous » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:33 am

:roll:
Last edited by CureIous on Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: And those Gold Standard Randomized Clinical Trials ? ? ?

Postby CureIous » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:47 am

Squeakycat wrote:
[b]


not all that perfect, depending on how one looks at it.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1120057/?tool=pubmed


This is a great find, thank you for this. I think the sooner we lose these stupid gold plated labels the better. There's no room in science for absolute thinking. Gold imparts just that, to the average Joe. It's okay for healthcare plans I guess, or life insurance, but anything as you posted with this much variability on both ends, both randomized and observational, cannot possibly then be "the gold standard", but it sounds good so we use it anyways. I think that particular phrase should be forever divorced from the medical field. Pretty soon the neuros will be telling us that the pill forms of their poison of the year is "the new gold standard in MS patient care".

This was a cool article. It's refreshing to see the ultimate test get tested itself. Since so many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of patient's destinies hang in the balance at this point, to now insist that an absolutely unassailable "gold plated" study is the only way to proceed (Hear me Oh Canada?), is to beg the question, "well as soon as I can find one that WAS unassailable to use as a model". Fact of the matter is, they all have their weak spots, plusses and minuses.

Which then begs the question why the two cannot run concurrently as two halves of the whole, in the same institution. Just make one arm the purely observational arm, the other is the RCT. I know, easy for me to say...
RRMS Dx'd 2007, first episode 2004. Bilateral stent placement, 3 on left, 1 stent on right, at Stanford August 2009. Watch my operation video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwc6QlLVtko, Virtually symptom free since, no relap
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