Anecdotes are great – if they convey data accurately

Format: 2-16 Don’t confuse “statistical significance” with “importance”
Language/s: 3-4 - How certain is the evidence?
Resource Link: View the Text (PDF)
Short Description:

Ben Goldacre gives examples of how conclusions based on anecdotes and biased research can be damagingly misleading.

Key Concepts addressed:


Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Friday 29 July 2011

On Channel 4 News, scientists have found a new treatment for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. “A study in the Lancet today shows a drug injected weekly for three months appears to have reduced the symptoms they say. “While it’s not a cure, it does appear to reduce the symptoms.”

Unfortunately, the study shows no such thing. The gene for making a muscle protein called dystrophin is damaged in patients with DMD. The Lancet paper shows a new treatment led to some restoration of dystrophin production in some children in a small unblinded study.

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