scientific method

Effect Measure

Category archives for scientific method

Thinking about science and what I do

I just started reading an interesting book, “How Mathematicians Think,” written (naturally enough) by a mathematician (William Byers). It got me thinking not only about mathematics but also science, what it is and why I do it. Here’s the paragraph that triggered it:

I’m all for scientific — and statistical — literacy, but sometimes the calls for it exasperate me. Just a little. Not significantly. If you know what I mean. Or you think you know what I mean. Anyway. Yesterday Wired carried a piece by Clive Thompson, Why We Should Learn the Language of Data. It’s a…

This week Canadian public health researchers published the long awaited paper on possible association between vaccination for seasonal influenza the previous flu season and risk of having a medically diagnosed infection with pandemic influenza during the first wave of infections (April to July) just as that season was ending. When preliminary results were first announced…

Robby, while you’re up, get me a Grant

The Robby in the title refers to Robby the Robot in the 1956 movie, Forbidden Planet, and what follows was a tag line in an ad for Grant’s whiskey: “While you’re up, get me a Grant’s.” That’s in case you’ve forgotten or never knew. I’m still working on the grant, doing things it feels like…

The latest study on flu vaccine effectiveness in children has been well discussed in the MSM and the flu blogs, so I’ll point you to those excellent pieces (Branswell, crof, Mike Coston at Avian Flu Diary) and just add some things not covered elsewhere. The full text of the article is available for free at…

A scientific ethics of code

I’m a scientist and my research is supported by NIH, i.e., by American taxpayers. More importantly, the science I do is for anyone to use. I claim no proprietary rights. That’s what science is all about. We make our computer code publicly available, not just by request, but posted on the internet, and it is…

[Previous installments: here, here, here, here, here, here] Last installment was the first examination of what “randomized” means in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). We finish up here by calling attention to what randomization does and doesn’t do and under what circumstances. The notion of probability here is the conventional frequentist one, since that’s how…

[Previous installments: here, here, here, here, here] After a detour through the meaning of causation and the need to find a substitute for what can’t, in principle, be observed (the counterfactual), we are now ready to consider what many of you might have thought would be the starting point, randomization. It’s a surprisingly difficult topic…

[Previous installments: here, here, here, here] We’d like to continue this series on randomized versus observational studies by discussing randomization, but upon reviewing comments and our previous post we decided to come at it from a slightly different direction. So we want to circle back and discuss counterfactuals a little more, clarifying and adapting some…

Continuing our discussion of causation and what it might mean (this is still a controverted question in philosophy and should be in science), let me address an issue brought up by David Rind in his discussion of our challenge. He discussed three cases where a rational person wouldn’t wait for an RCT before taking action,…