Thursday, January 03, 2008

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation




My New Year’s resolution for 2008: shout down and belittle idiots who make statements such as the following:

“Cell phones cause brain cancer! I read it in Time!”

“High-tension wires cause cancer! My sister’s friend got leukemia and so did her next- door neighbor! They live half a mile from power lines!”

“Breast implants cause cancer! My cousin’s friend had implants and got cancer! She’s dead now!”

“St. John’s wort cured my friend’s uncle’s prostate cancer! They wanted to do surgery and make him impotent and incontinent! Doctors are jerks and don’t understand non-traditional remedies!”

Enough.

Anecdotal evidence like this is retarded. When you next read in a newspaper or popular magazine about a ‘study’ that shows fava beans and patchouli oil may lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, I want you to stop and think before spewing your idiocy to everyone. Especially me. Yes, I am a doctor - but guess what, when you ask me if I heard about that amazing fava bean study, I’m going to kick you in the teeth.

By the way, have you heard about global warming!? It was the third warmest day in recorded history in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan! I’m not even kidding!!! Please study the attached diagram. Fucking corporations!!!

46 comments:

  1. And the corollary:

    If I can DETECT a toxin in the envrionment, it will immediately lead to a fatal dose or worse. (All the while, neglecting, of course, the Paracelsus paraphrase: "The dose makes the poison.")

    www.vanishingzero.org

    (Disclaimer, I'm not a writer to that organization, but I do enjoy reading it.)

    Think of the children!

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  2. Thank you for reminding us. As always, MDOD is here "for the children". Let us not forget.

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  3. So... my Endocrinologist was right when she said that there was no evidence (at the time) that statins can cause severe muscle aches and pains? Even though there WAS documented evidence from the drug maker?

    I am writing this tongue-in-cheek, just so that you know I am being light-hearted with this. The above was true of my first Endo doc.

    In all seriousness, would you really discount a patient for inquiring about what they have read, be it on the internet, magazines or heard anecdotally from a friend?

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  4. Your endocrinologist is a moron.

    The difference is between, as you say, documented evidence, and anecdotal evidence.

    I would not discount a patient for being stupid. THAT is OK. It's the people outside medicine that criticize docs for "ignoring" herbal remedies, chakras and aromatherapy while embracing and championing the FACT that IMMUNIZATIONS CAUSE AUTISM!!! (and the like) These are the people that should be beaten senseless.

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  5. I agree with beating the autism/immunization people sensless, but it should be with a big frozen stick made entirely of H.Flu bacteria.

    Interestingly, you global warming alarmist jack-offs, on the same day Florida kicked off its "come here because it's warmer" campaign, it snowed in Daytona Beach. Go dry hump a redwood you out of work socialist freaks. I got some clown shoes for Christmas cause my carbon footprint is HUGE. Even left my truck running all night just so it wouldn't be cold this morning.

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  6. etotheipi,

    what are we to do now that it is apparent that we face a terrible double-bind? i mean, if global warming is not an ongoing problem and global cooling takes over then where are we going to hide from the pirates? would it be high-seas piracy or intellectual property piracy, or, perhaps, both. if high seas piracy would it be spanish-main piracy or caribbean piracy? i'm trying to plan my next move so your advice and insight is key. thank you so much.
    kisses,
    me

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  7. and one more thing... what if these pirates use cell phones?

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  8. Etotheipi said...
    Your endocrinologist is a moron.

    *smiles*

    Thank you, that is why she was my first endocrinologist, not my current one. And yep, I caught the difference between documented and anecdotal evidence.

    I read a discussion on a non-medical forum where a group of persons publicly charged that there is/are homeopathic remedies for most known cancers but the mainstream medical community is witholding them because of the low monetary value attached to them versus expensive pharma treatments. When challenged by a few in the "other" camp to list said remedies, the sound of crickets could be heard chirping because the anonymous few could not produce one answer to the question, but they continued to stump that the treatments were "out there but being suppressed."

    - Paint target on wall at head heigth

    - Bang head against wall

    - Continue until will to live subsides

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  9. If they are butt pirates, then you don't have to hide. Just be careful when you tie your shoes.

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  10. "Correlation does not imply causation."

    My favorite anecdote to illustrate that point:

    Boudreaux and his wife Clotilde were having marital problems. It seems Clotilde was unable to achieve an orgasm, and they wondered if there might be a medical reason for her frigidity.

    Their little fishing village didn't have a doctor, so they consulted the local vet, who scratched his head a few moments and opined, "It might be stress. Sometimes when we breed cows, the female gets a little stressed out by that big old bull, so we fan her with a blanket until she calms down and becomes more receptive. Maybe that would work for Clotilde."

    So Boudreaux and Clotilde hired a strapping young man from Lafayette to fan them with a towel while they made love. The young man waved the towel vigorously while Boudreaux sweated and grunted, but sadly, Clotilde still didn't reach climax.

    They reported their disappointing results to the vet, who suggested, "Change the circumstances around. Have the young man make love to Clotilde while you wave the towel."

    So the strapping young man made love to Clotilde while Boudreaux fanned them with a towel, and Clotilde experienced multiple, thunderous orgasms.

    As Clotilde and the young man lay there sweating and satiated, Boudreaux leaned over them and said smugly...

    "Now dat, young man...is how you wave a towel."

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  11. When I worked in a peds clinic, before getting back to the sanity of the ED, there was a rash of parents who swore by something called "teething tablets" for their infants' fussiness during various stages of teething. These were a homeopathic tablet available in most drug stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores, but I had never seen them (truth - I hadn't really gone looking).

    I finally got curious enough to have one mother bring them in. One of the main active ingredients was Belladonna...yes, that lovely hallucinogenic drug that so many heroines of fiction used to dream away their lives. No wonder the kids quit fussing!

    And no wonder I tend to view homeopathic remedies with a slightly jaundiced eye at times.

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  12. Cat:
    Thank you for increasing your carbon footprint - the safety of the high seas thanks you.

    911: There IS a positive direct correlation between cell phone use and global warming! FUCK!!!!! We are all going to die.

    jw et al.:
    homeopathy, chiropractic "medicine", acupuncture etc... It's ALL CRAP. I have yet to see a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial showing ANY validity to these "remedies". The pathetic thing is that Medicare/medicaid actually COVERS this stuff in some cases (ie YOU are paying for this crap)... what a fucking jerkoff.

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  13. check out www.quackwatch.org

    good debunking site...

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  14. etotheipi -

    God, your picture makes me hot! hot! hot!

    ~ Shari Ann

    (I LOVE Quackwatch, and the Skeptics Dictionary. Another great resource I have found is The Nutrition Action Healthletter http://www.cspinet.org/nah/index.htm)

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  15. dear pediem,
    as you know the whole basis of homeopathy is that there is something to micro-dosing of remedies. so, in spite of the fact that there is 'belladona' in the remedy you mention, it is, no doubt, such a small amount that you might not be able to measure it with a mass spectrometer. i am thinking about marketing a homeopathic remedy which includes cyanide. i will sell it as a remedy for everything... the cyanide will catch everyone's attention and they will, therefore, think it works to kill stuff. the cyanide will be included in the sugar pill by passing the pills under a cyanide tablet with a fan blowing down on the tablet to the sugar pills below. there's your homeopathic medicine.

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  16. one more thing. the potential for pirates to use cell phones or even sattelite phones is terribly worrisome. they could then coordinate their attacks. for me, i hope for global warming rather than rampant piracy.

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  17. Hey...your graph is wrong...on the number of pirates. heeheee
    You know...there a still pirates in the world!

    Check this out:

    http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/piracyreport.php

    Wow they even have maps:

    http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/piracy_maps_2006.php

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  18. I am also surprised at how many dumb ass doctors don't believe in global warming. Instead...lets call it..."ice caps melting." There is evidence up the ass that the ice caps are melting. However, It might be the farting cows fault. Or...hm....the burning of acres of forest, or the damn lead-r-us chinese toy makers.

    Happy Artic waters! (with pirates!)

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  19. I believe in global warming. I wish it was warmer. Had a tough time playing golf today in 30 degree temps. Scientists recently discovered that the Earth had maintained a constant temperature for 4 billion years, and then Ford came out with the Explorer (Eddie Bauer edition) and the Earth said enough of this, I'm getting warmer. This 2% of the global total CO2 production that these humans make is pissing me off.
    Now I will remove my tongue from my cheek and place it in ladyk's ass hole. Yum yum. She's been dumpster diving with Al Gore and I'm tasting week old Burger King.

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  20. Ouch!

    leave my bum hole out of this please....

    It was all in good fun...

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  21. cat...
    you are the funniest mf-er on the planet!!
    and i think its the Hummer H-2 that's causing polar melting...

    Cat Fan

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  22. 911doc-is the homeopathic cyanide drug your ticket out of your current job? Can I help design the packaging?

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  23. rad girl,
    sure. let's do it. i think we should call it 'cya-not'.

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  24. You missed this:

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/169525.html

    Amy

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  25. Amy,
    Oh my goodness. Another thing to worry about. Where's Al Gore when you need him?

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  26. THIS has me all afraid of pirates again. Al Gore, please respond!

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  27. Etotheipi -
    Any comments on Donda West's autopsy findings?
    Curious that they thought that 50-70% coronary stenoses would contribute to death - when there was no gross evidence of MI. How accurate are the autopsy estimates of coronary stenoses? (any correlation to cath findings?)

    CardioNP

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  28. Who the fuck is Donde West???

    I realized I could google it... OK, Kanye's mom. Got it.

    If the autopsy is done well, the coronary stenosis estimate is the gold standard against which the cath should be measured. I mean, you are looking at multiple cross sections of the actual artery...
    so it's really not an 'estimate' - it is the directly visualized vessel.

    as far as "no gross evidence" of MI... You may see nothing grossly, but have microscopic evidence of MI.

    Sometimes you see nothing grossly AND microscopically. Here you are fucked because hyperacute MI can show nothing pathologically...

    BTW, Kanye is Dre's bitch and Fiddycent rules.

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  29. Wow:
    Such clueless comments from people who claim to have their education based in science. I am not saying that the US should have jumped into Kyoto or that there is clear evidence "proving" global warming. However, the evidence so far is concerning and justifies further aggressive research. It is sad when one's ideology (conservative OR liberal) interferes with objective thought processes.

    PS: Watch out for the butt-pirates :)

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  30. uhh,, okay... let's do some 'aggressive research'... right now all research is blessed as 'good' or 'bad' by head scientist and genius al gore which i thought was 'aggressive' enough. i worship at the feet of al gore. he was too smart to finish his graduate degree in what... theology??

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  31. 911:
    Did I mention Al Gore? No.
    Al Gore is not the end all to "Greenhouse Gas", "Global Warming", "Climate Change" etc, etc whatever term you want to use. The problem is your inability to separate a man that you can't stand (Al Gore) from this issue. Heck I didn't vote for the guy either. Have you read the AAAS or the other professional societies, position on the subject? These guys aren't morons. They happen to be the leading scientists of this and other countries. Have you even read the research for (and against) climate change? If you think it is all a bunch of poppycock then fine. But following that reasoning, why bother to use evidence-based medicine. Why complete studies evaluating the validity of new chemotherapy agents? Why not just break out the leaches. It worked for George Washington after all right?
    Again, I am not saying we should have jumped into Kyoto. I am also not saying we should ignore the subject. If you follow the George Bush school of scientific thought, well I am glad I never will step in your ER.

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  32. E to da eye pie -
    Thanks for the answer

    Cardio NP

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  33. Well super good question "anonymous" (if that is your real name)... In short, if the evidence for global warming were compelling AND the evidence were compelling that it was something that a)we could fix or b)was caused by the evil United States or any country for that matter then by all means lets ditch our SUVs and planes and go live in tents. However, I think the evidence is MUCH MORE COMPELLING that the global warming movement is communism based on a hoax to suck the coffers of Western Countries dry.

    Go here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here and then please go elsewhere to preach your religion.

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  34. Anonymous:
    Did you not look at the graph!? If that's not evidence I don't know what is...

    Somehow, all those apocalypse-mongers since the beginning of recorded history have all had to crawl back in their hole when the apocalypse doesn't conveniently come on schedule. The global face of this current trend is Nobel laureate Al Gore (proving how worthless the peace Nobel is).

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  35. The business and media institute, Micheal Crichton, Global warming and acne? Did you actually read the crap that you cut and pasted? The only one here with "religion" is you dude. I am not going to waste my time linking reputable sources on global warming. We both know you will not read them. Below is a very incomplete list of scientific organizations with consensus statements on global warming after reviewing the literature. I am sorry you have your head so far up your a$$ you can do a colonoscopy on yourself.


    Joint Science Academies.
    U.S. National Research Council. American Meteorological Society
    American Geophysical Union American Institute of Physics
    American Astronomical Society
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    Geological Society of America
    American Chemical Society


    PS:I never even mentioned Al Gore and I will say it for the THIRD time (since you can't appear to read) I never supported the US involvement in Kyoto.

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  36. Dear Anonymous,
    You are right. You have convinced me. Since I give up, will you promise not to post here again?

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  37. Jeez 911 doc did you really forget everything you learned about science and the scientific method? One individual event (ie. a cold spell) is meaningless in this setting. The fact is your "sources" are a joke. Sorry, if my choices are micheal crichton or the leading american scientific bodies then the answer is obvious. I will say it for the FOURTH time, I am no proponent of Kyoto. I also don't think ignoring the best available scientific evidence is the answer either. Is that so hard to understand from someone who claims to have a professional education?

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  38. YOU ARE RIGHT. YOU HAVE CONVINCED ME. SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS HAS BEEN REACHED WITHOUT REGARD TO POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY. THE PLANET WILL BURN UP SOON. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, RECYCLE OUR POOP, PAY FOR CARBON OFFSETS, TRAP COW FARTS, DRIVE TO POLAR BEAR SWIMS TO RAISE MONEY FOR AL GORE... I MEAN THE PURE AND TRUE FORCES COMBATTING GLOBAL WARMING/COOLING/CLIMATE CHANGE ETC... RIGHT NOW, I'M GOING TO DRIVE MY BIG TRUCK, BUT WILL DO IT WITH A FROWN ON MY FACE AND A TEAR IN MY EYE. NOW GO AWAY LEST I TAUNT YOU A SECOND TIME! I WILL SHOOT ARROWS IN YOUR HEAD AND MAKE CASTINETS OUT OF YOUR TESTICLES!

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  39. Did you read my last paragraph? Let me repeat it for you

    " I will say it for the FOURTH time (actually now fifth), I am no proponent of Kyoto. I also don't think ignoring the best available scientific evidence is the answer either. Is that so hard to understand from someone who claims to have a professional education?"


    Actually you aren't taunting me. You can't defend your own position on one hand, yet on the other, your ideology does not allow you evaluate other points of view and the evidence that supports AND refutes it. In short, you are making a fool out of yourself on your own website.

    Toodles.

    PS: What is this fixation with Al Gore. Did he dump you or something?

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  40. algore.

    algore.

    algore.

    You don't frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king, you and all your silly English kaniggets. Thppppt! I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough whopper! I fart in your general direction! Fetchez la vache. Fetchez la vache! [moo] [twong] [mooooooo] Ah, this one is for your mother! [twong]

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  41. Thanks for making my point (again). Whatever your damage is, it's not a just a "flesh wound":}

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  42. 'Allo, daffy English kaniggets and Monsieur Arthur-King, who is afraid of a duck, you know! So, we French fellows out-wit you a second time! How you English say, I one more time-a unclog my nose in your direction, sons of a window-dresser! So, you think you could out-clever us French folk with your silly knees-bent running about advancing behavior! I wave my private parts at your aunties, you heaving lot of second-hand electric donkey bottom biters... English bedwetting types. I burst my pimples at you and call your daughter an unrequested silly thing. You tiny-brained wipers of other people's bottoms!No, remain you illegitimate faced buggerfuls! And, if you think you got nasty taunting this time, you ain't heard nothing yet! Daffy
    English kaniggets! Thpppt!

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  43. Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    Their surreal humor kind of reminds me of surreal nature in which you rale against the evidence for climate change.

    Batter up.

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  44. What is the air speed of a coconut laden swallow?

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  45. anonymous 1:
    the climate changes every day. convenient how your side has gone from 'global warming' to climate change. the nice thing about 'climate change' is that you can't be wrong. congratulations!

    anonymous 2:
    a european or african swallow?

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  46. Excellent post, this is one of those posts that make your blog stand out of the cloud!

    Keep it up bro!

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