¡No, no, no, no! ¡Los testimonios no son evidencia!

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for the Spanish translation.] Estamos programados para responder a testimonios. Échale la culpa a la evolución. Durante la mayor parte de la historia de la humanidad, solo teníamos dos formas de aprender sobre el mundo: nuestras propias observaciones y lo que otras personas nos contaban

No, No, No, NO! Testimonials Are Not Evidence!

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] We are programmed to respond to testimonials. Blame evolution. For most of human history, we had only two ways to learn about the world: our own observations, and what other people told us about their experiences. Gathering

Pitfalls in Research: Why Studies Are More Often Wrong than Right

Here is a course guide to episode 9, “Pitfalls of Research”, of my YouTube lecture series on science-based medicine. Alternative medicine relies heavily on anecdotal evidence and personal experience, but it knows it won’t convince mainstream science unless it can provide scientific validation. It is quick to crow about positive results from scientific studies, often

Cognitive Traps

In my recent review of Peter Palmieri’s book Suffer the Children I said I would later try to cover some of the many other important issues he brings up. One of the themes in the book is the process of critical thinking and the various cognitive traps doctors fall into. I will address some of

Diagnosis, Therapy and Evidence

When Dr. Novella recently wrote about plausibility in science-based medicine, one of our most assiduous commenters, Daedalus2u, added a very important point. The data are always right, but the explanations may be wrong. The idea of treating ulcers with antibiotics was not incompatible with any of the data about ulcers; it was only incompatible with

The Mythbusters of Psychology

Karl Popper said “Science must begin with myths and with the criticism of myths.” Popular psychology is a prolific source of myths. It has produced widely held beliefs that “everyone knows are true” but that are contradicted by psychological research. A new book does an excellent job of mythbusting: 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology:

Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough

I recently wrote an article for a community newspaper attempting to explain to scientifically naive readers why testimonial “evidence” is unreliable; unfortunately, they decided not to print it. I considered using it here, but I thought it was too elementary for this audience. I have changed my mind and I am offering it below (with

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