Posts Tagged evidence-based policy

Guest Post: Pondering Evidence-Based Policy and the Geek Manifesto

Dr Benedict Michael is a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow (DRF). He trained in Medicine in Liverpool, and has helped set up the NHS Northwest Neurological Infectious Diseases Research Network and Brain Infections UK and is a main author for the ABN/BIA National Encephalitis Guideline. Here, he shares his take on our recent guest speaker Mark Henderson’s ‘Geek Manifesto’:

I recently attended an interesting talk hosted by the Merseyside Skeptics Society and given by Mark Henderson, author of the “Geek Manifesto”, and one main thing struck me: Why are so many of the greatest proponents of evidence-based approaches not scientists?! As a physician, NIHR PhD Fellow, author of over 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications and active author in the Cochrane Collaboration, arguably the most widely respected evidence-based institution, I can claim at least some interest in this!

Although I commend Mark’s efforts, the non-scientific authors and proponents, if I can call them that (and by which I mean authors not regularly engaged in peer-reviewed scientific research publications and nothing pejorative), are not always in line with the scientific community.

In fact, many scientists and doctors oppose a fully evidence-based approach to guiding policy and practice, and some have gone so far as to raise the alarm against a cryptofacist evidence-based hegemony in which they find their practice constrained.

Now before you grab the pitch forks and tie me to a stake, let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Surveys On Rape And The Need For Clean Stats

Recently we asked you what really pushes your buttons and makes you angry. You may have answered, you may not – I hadn’t, and didn’t intend to… but bugger it, my spleen needs venting. So here goes – I have a couple of thing that particularly piss me off: psychics are definitely one of them. Sexuality discrimination (in either direction) is very much a second. And another biggie? Bad stats, where it matters.

Now, I appreciate it might seem like a bit of a nothingness, after all. So some numbers get inflated to make it look like men are shitty to their girlfriends, or that knife crime is on the rise, or that more than half of teenage girls are pregnant – these kind of issues might seem relatively minor, if slightly sexist, sensationalist or downright stupid. Nobody’s getting hurt here, you might think, and after all more than 33% of statistics are made up, and over half of the remaining two thirds are meaningless cliche anyway. However, consider the following headline, from Tuesday’s Metro:

One in four women has been raped, a shocking new survey reveals

I think it’s fair to say the statement that 25% of women have been raped is a shocking statement. Truly. If it were, in fact, true. But is it? Well, it’s right there in the headline, and surely nobody running those figures could do so without being 110% sure of their accuracy, and at the very least they’d make sure they were about 4/3rds positive of the interpretation? Well, a little digging around and I was able to locate a summary of the survey this stat was taken from – it was an online survey of 1061 people in London, broken down into 349 men and 712 women. There’s no indication as to how that sample of 1061 people was put together, so any discussion of the stats has to be with the caveat that any potential bias is undisclosed. Interestingly, when looked at in terms of self-defined sexuality there were only 71 homosexual, 52 bisexual and 16 asexual respondents – yet the summary merrily extrapolates the data of around four dozen bisexual respondents into statements of comparative risk Read the rest of this entry »

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