Does organic food cause autism? Could Nicolas Cage movies make you more likely to drown? Six ways to misuse statistics

Puff the Mutant Dragon

Back in the 1940s before the polio vaccine was invented, the disease caused a lot of anxiety among parents of small children. How could you reduce your child’s risk of contracting this nasty illness? Some misguided public health experts apparently recommended avoiding ice cream, thanks to a study that showed a correlation between ice cream consumption and polio outbreaks. This study fortunately was BS. Yes, there was a correlation between ice cream consumption and polio outbreaks, but that was because both were common in the summer months. The authors of the study had mistaken correlation (ice cream consumption and polio are more common at the same time) with causation (ice cream increases your risk of disease).

Medical researchers often trawl through data sets to try and figure out what environmental factors cause chronic disease. Unfortunately, these kinds of studies sometimes make the same kinds of mistakes as the ice…

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Physician and physical contact

In the medical field ‘physical contact’ usually implies the medically required contact with patients and its aspect of disease communicability. However, this generally perceived view may need some reform to emphasize the two opposite sides, the profits and the risks. Although modern tools of communication could be of great help, they are used only in cases where direct contact of the doctor with patient is instantly not manageable. What kind of blesses a skilful physician can have in his/her attendance! The look; the affection; the touch; the wisdom and the proof. This may refer to the true start of the medical care from mind and not matter, from tact but not tempt, from thoughtfulness and not automaticity. Some people can argue metaphysical working in even lay and plain dealings and for them the medical cases wouldn’t be exceptions. The medical tactfulness can be gained in steps and over time. It comprises emotional, behavioral, ethical and medical progresses. In my opinion, the value of the clever physician lies in the lengthy and subjective path to acquire such collegial attitude and not only the cost and difficulty of the academic courses. Should the physician’s responsible physical contact be rightly and adequately perceived by the patient, this can be a subject of individuals’ variations. For example, rubbing the hairs and cheering up of a child in a medical session may not look well reasoned by the child’s parent(s). Accordingly, the physician may show sympathy and encouragements just as little and sufficient as possible to balance between his/her emotional generosity from one side and the patient’s understanding and conception from the other.