## Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

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### Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

"What the vulgar call chance is nothing but a secret and concealed cause."
-David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Section XII, "Of the Probability of Causes"

It seems to me that the principal weakness of the double blind, random control group method (DBRCGM) is the random control group aspect of the method. The weakness, as I see it, has two parts.

First, the phrase "random assignment" seems contradictory. If "control" is the end, how can randomization be the means? Randomness implies no (or little) controI. The same issue arises with the notion of assignment. If assigning is happening, then the alleged randomness is compromised, if not destroyed, again defeating the purpose of control. And it doesn't help to say, "we use a non-biased assignment instrument" for that does not get us out of the impossibility of assuring reliable instrumentation for measurement without infinite regress (similar to the part of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics that Niels Bohr called complementarity).

Second, and to my mind, more devastating to the validity of the DBRCGM than the above, is that it rests on the untestable and wildly conjectural assumption that groups are comparable. Individuals are extremely unique and only superficially comparable; no two people are exactly alike, and the deeper we compare them the more contrasts we find. And groups are comprised of these extremely unique individuals. So, as a function of this, group complexity rises exponentially with the size (the sample n) of the group. But the assumption of the DBRCGM is that the larger n, the more assurance we can derive from our comparison test. Yet, the larger n becomes, by my "complexity argument," not only does our hoped for control over hidden and confounding variables decrease, but in all likelihood we increase, and again in all likelihood exponentially, the amount of hidden and confounding variables present in what we are trying to control and measure--a type of "herding cats" phenomenon (and involving something similar to another aspect, yet again, of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the hidden variable dilemma; and also involving something similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty/indeterminism principle).
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:"What the vulgar call chance is nothing but a secret and concealed cause."
-David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Section XII, "Of the Probability of Causes"

Wow. I never realized that Hume had said anything intelligent, much less actually true.

landis wrote:It seems to me that the principal weakness of the double blind, random control group method (DBRCGM) is the random control group aspect of the method. The weakness, as I see it, has two parts.

First, the phrase "random assignment" seems contradictory. If "control" is the end, how can randomization be the means? Randomness implies no (or little) controI. The same issue arises with the notion of assignment. If assigning is happening, then the alleged randomness is compromised, if not destroyed, again defeating the purpose of control. And it doesn't help to say, "we use a non-biased assignment instrument" for that does not get us out of the impossibility of assuring reliable instrumentation for measurement without infinite regress (similar to the part of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics that Niels Bohr called complementarity).

Second, and to my mind, more devastating to the validity of the DBRCGM than the above, is that it rests on the untestable and wildly conjectural assumption that groups are comparable. Individuals are extremely unique and only superficially comparable; no two people are exactly alike, and the deeper we compare them the more contrasts we find. And groups are comprised of these extremely unique individuals. So, as a function of this, group complexity rises exponentially with the size (the sample n) of the group. But the assumption of the DBRCGM is that the larger n, the more assurance we can derive from our comparison test. Yet, the larger n becomes, by my "complexity argument," not only does our hoped for control over hidden and confounding variables decrease, but in all likelihood we increase, and again in all likelihood exponentially, the amount of hidden and confounding variables present in what we are trying to control and measure--a type of "herding cats" phenomenon (and involving something similar to another aspect, yet again, of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the hidden variable dilemma; and also involving something similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty/indeterminism principle).

Have you ever actually done a double-blind experiment? Or do I need to go through the process. You seem to be extrapolating the concept out of context.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

James S Saint wrote:Have you ever actually done a double-blind experiment? Or do I need to go through the process. You seem to be extrapolating the concept out of context.

My education and training (master's degree level in a social science), experience in the (social services) field, and years of studying the philosophy of science and analyzing one DBRCGM study after another more than qualify me to understand the process. But thanks for the offer. Yes, I'm extrapolating, but that doesn't diminish my critical capacities or otherwise delegitimize my critique. Furthermore, conducting a DBRCG study is not the only way to understand the process. And you'll have to be more precise by which context you're referring to for me to expand further and satisfactorily.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Well good, in that case;

landis wrote:First, the phrase "random assignment" seems contradictory. If "control" is the end, how can randomization be the means? Randomness implies no (or little) controI.

Actually "random" merely means "without discernible pattern" or "unpredictable".

If one removes all forces of discernible persuasion or bias, the result will be random. The "control" is merely the control of the forces of persuasion to keep them balanced or absent. The result is not what is being controlled, but rather any interference with it.

landis wrote:The same issue arises with the notion of assignment. If assigning is happening, then the alleged randomness is compromised, if not destroyed, again defeating the purpose of control. And it doesn't help to say, "we use a non-biased assignment instrument" for that does not get us out of the impossibility of assuring reliable instrumentation for measurement without infinite regress (similar to the part of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics that Niels Bohr called complementarity).

Again, it is an issue of forbidding any biases or persuasions regarding the assigning process. The process is controlled in the sense that it is protected against bias. The end result will be a random (unpredictable) distribution of assignments.

landis wrote:Second, and to my mind, more devastating to the validity of the DBRCGM than the above, is that it rests on the untestable and wildly conjectural assumption that groups are comparable. Individuals are extremely unique and only superficially comparable; no two people are exactly alike, and the deeper we compare them the more contrasts we find. And groups are comprised of these extremely unique individuals. So, as a function of this, group complexity rises exponentially with the size (the sample n) of the group. But the assumption of the DBRCGM is that the larger n, the more assurance we can derive from our comparison test. Yet, the larger n becomes, by my "complexity argument," not only does our hoped for control over hidden and confounding variables decrease, but in all likelihood we increase, and again in all likelihood exponentially, the amount of hidden and confounding variables present in what we are trying to control and measure--a type of "herding cats" phenomenon (and involving something similar to another aspect, yet again, of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the hidden variable dilemma; and also involving something similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty/indeterminism principle).

This one is an issue of the large group containing a sample of every general type that is also available in the control group. The idea is to make it so complex that the individual affects blur into a gray obscurity, a randomization of individuality or any special effect. That is why a large group is necessary. Complexity plays in favor of blurring out any effect other than the one you are testing for.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend

Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

James S Saint wrote:Well good, in that case;

landis wrote:First, the phrase "random assignment" seems contradictory. If "control" is the end, how can randomization be the means? Randomness implies no (or little) controI.

Actually "random" merely means "without discernible pattern" or "unpredictable".

If one removes all forces of discernible persuasion or bias, the result will be random. The "control" is merely the control of the forces of persuasion to keep them balanced or absent. The result is not what is being controlled, but rather any interference with it.

This doesn't address the parallel problem I brought up from quantum mechanics with the infinite regress of measurement problem, and it sidesteps my point that an agent is still required to decide that a randomness procedure is warranted. Hence, control is an illusion.

landis wrote:The same issue arises with the notion of assignment. If assigning is happening, then the alleged randomness is compromised, if not destroyed, again defeating the purpose of control. And it doesn't help to say, "we use a non-biased assignment instrument" for that does not get us out of the impossibility of assuring reliable instrumentation for measurement without infinite regress (similar to the part of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics that Niels Bohr called complementarity).

James S Saint wrote:Again, it is an issue of forbidding any biases or persuasions regarding the assigning process. The process is controlled in the sense that it is protected against bias. The end result will be a random (unpredictable) distribution of assignments.

Any? How would you know? This is why the problem of induction is still a problem. You can't control for or forbid biases or persuasions in experiments designed on the premises of the naturalistic fallacy and uniformity of nature assumptions. Otherwise, what you really get blinded to is the fact that groups are not comparable.
landis wrote:Second, and to my mind, more devastating to the validity of the DBRCGM than the above, is that it rests on the untestable and wildly conjectural assumption that groups are comparable. Individuals are extremely unique and only superficially comparable; no two people are exactly alike, and the deeper we compare them the more contrasts we find. And groups are comprised of these extremely unique individuals. So, as a function of this, group complexity rises exponentially with the size (the sample n) of the group. But the assumption of the DBRCGM is that the larger n, the more assurance we can derive from our comparison test. Yet, the larger n becomes, by my "complexity argument," not only does our hoped for control over hidden and confounding variables decrease, but in all likelihood we increase, and again in all likelihood exponentially, the amount of hidden and confounding variables present in what we are trying to control and measure--a type of "herding cats" phenomenon (and involving something similar to another aspect, yet again, of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the hidden variable dilemma; and also involving something similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty/indeterminism principle).

James S Saint wrote:This one is an issue of the large group containing a sample of every general type that is also available in the control group. The idea is to make it so complex that the individual affects blur into a gray obscurity, a randomization of individuality or any special effect. That is why a large group is necessary. Complexity plays in favor of blurring out any effect other than the one you are testing for.

To the contrary: You have know way of knowing if you're not dealing with hidden variables or other confounds. Complexity implies loss of control and necessitates using absurd notions like "statistical significance" and misleading tools like "confidence intervals" to scientificate the data. You can't control for the by fiat nature of such notions or tools.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Landis, it seems to me you are critiquing inductive research for not being deductive in perfection. But it's not. It is statistical. The results can Always be outweighed by more data. It gives us solider choices than throwing at dart at reality. it does much better than random guesses. Dow makes 40 Chemicals, randomly. First they DBRCG test them on rats, then on humans. Some kill (it seems), some maim (it seems), others do nothing (it seems) and some seem to be beneficial and so on.

Would you, if someone pointed a gun at you,

A choose a chemical at random from the and drink it?

B Use the information from the research to help decide which one?

I can see Little reason not to use the information.

Unlike deduction, this research cannot lead to proof, but it can give a statistical advantage.

Moreno
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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:Individuals are extremely unique and only superficially comparable; no two people are exactly alike, and the deeper we compare them the more contrasts we find. And groups are comprised of these extremely unique individuals. So, as a function of this, group complexity rises exponentially with the size (the sample n) of the group. But the assumption of the DBRCGM is that the larger n, the more assurance we can derive from our comparison test. Yet, the larger n becomes, by my "complexity argument," not only does our hoped for control over hidden and confounding variables decrease, but in all likelihood we increase, and again in all likelihood exponentially, the amount of hidden and confounding variables present in what we are trying to control and measure--a type of "herding cats" phenomenon (and involving something similar to another aspect, yet again, of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the hidden variable dilemma; and also involving something similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty/indeterminism principle).

The guy is saying here, as far as I can tell, that having a bigger sample size should create more error.

As far as I can tell, this literally means that he thinks that a study to test the efficacy of some drug would be more valuable if it were done on fewer people. Eg he'd trust a study done on 4 people more than a study done on 1000, because of some nonsensical 'complexity argument'. And he probably thinks a study done on 2 people is better than one done on 4.

I don't think it's complicated to understand why bigger sample size is better. I have a hard time believing this post was thought about much before it was posted.

Flannel Jesus

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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Flannel Jesus wrote:The guy is saying here, as far as I can tell, that having a bigger sample size should create more error.
No. A bigger sample size implies the probability of more hidden variables, not more error. It means we should retain scepticism about our "results," including not framing them in terms of error versus correctness.

Flannel Jesus wrote:As far as I can tell, this literally means that he thinks that a study to test the efficacy of some drug would be more valuable if it were done on fewer people. Eg he'd trust a study done on 4 people more than a study done on 1000, because of some nonsensical 'complexity argument'. And he probably thinks a study done on 2 people is better than one done on 4.

No. It means I don't trust nferential statistical sampling procedures in general. They rely too much on Queteletian l'homme moyen ("average man") asssumptions and fallacies. Groups can't take drugs. Only individuals can, and drug effects vary wildly from individual to individual. You can infer from DBRCG studies how much of the population can be expected to statistically react per study category, but you cannot infer who will react and in what ways. If you could rely on drug study data to address individual differnces there'd be no need to include side effect warnings, contraindications, etc.... The best, for instance, that drug studies that rely on inferential statistics sampling can do is help individuals gamble about drug consumption choices better (which with drugs, is particularly wearisome because of the all the problems characters like Ben Goldacre, Peter R. Breggin, etc... have delineated exist with drug studies).

Flannel Jesus wrote:I don't think it's complicated to understand why bigger sample size is better. I have a hard time believing this post was thought about much before it was posted.

This is part of the problem. People assume it's not complicated when it's in actuality extremely complex. Instead of thinking critically, they believe. With all due respect, your derision is unwarranted. I've thought about this for years. I'm not saying sample size isn't a relevant factor. I'm saying we have to much faith in inferentially statistical sampling. As Hume rightly stressed, induction doe not warrant such faith.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Moreno wrote:Landis, it seems to me you are critiquing inductive research for not being deductive in perfection.

No. To do that I'd have to believe deduction is perfect and I don't.
Moreno wrote:But it's not. It is statistical. The results can Always be outweighed by more data. It gives us solider choices than throwing at dart at reality.
Actually, what it "gives" us is better dart throwing technique.
Moreno wrote: it does much better than random guesses.
Actually, it gives us confidene that our guessing is less random, but it is only confidence: we can neither inductively nor deductively know for sure, and knowing is what we want. We still have to assume the coin is fair, which we can neither prove deductivley nor experimentally.
Moreno wrote:Dow makes 40 Chemicals, randomly.
"Makes chemicals" implies choice, and therefore, contradicts "randomly."
Moreno wrote:First they DBRCG test them on rats, then on humans. Some kill (it seems), some maim (it seems), others do nothing (it seems) and some seem to be beneficial and so on.
Again, more choice making.

Moreno wrote:Would you, if someone pointed a gun at you,

A choose a chemical at random from the and drink it?
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:Only individuals can, and drug effects vary wildly from individual to individual.

That's...sorta...exactly the point of large sample sizes and double blind studies in the first place. That's precisely why they're done.

The best, for instance, that drug studies that rely on inferential statistics sampling can do is help individuals gamble about drug consumption choices better

You may not have meant it this way, but this statement - that using statistics helps you make better 'gambling' choices - completely supports the entire point of doing double blind studies. You try to subtly deride it by using the word 'gambling', but you're saying that using these statistics rather than not using them does, in fact, give you a better chance of making the right choice. Which is what the statistics are for. So...yes, they help people 'gamble' about their drug choices better...and that's really the entire point of them in the first place.

As Hume rightly stressed, induction doe not warrant such faith.

Induction is the only thing that could possibly warrant thinking that something works. You can't prove that a drug works by sitting in your arm chair thinking about it. That's what statistics and studies are for. So, yes, induction does warrant, not 'faith' because that's just your derogatory term to put down inductive beliefs, but...if a double blind study shows that drug x is significantly more effective than placebo on 90% of people, and 5% of people experience nausea with the drug, then yes, induction most definitely warrants thinking, "Hey, I've got a 90% chance of this drug helping me and a 5% chance of experiencing nausea". I don't see what the problem is with that.

Flannel Jesus

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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Essentially, it now just looks like Londis is saying 'Statistical studies are bad because they don't give us certainty; just because this drug worked for 90% of people doesn't guarantee that it won't work for me.'

He's not pleased that there's no guarantee. That's his beef with statistics.

Statistics aren't for guarantees. They help you increase your odds. Expected value. They make you a better gambler. That's what they're for, that's what they do, you even seem to agree that that's what they do, but that's just not good enough for you.

Tough luck.

Flannel Jesus

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Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:32 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Flannel Jesus wrote:Essentially, it now just looks like Londis is saying 'Statistical studies are bad because they don't give us certainty; just because this drug worked for 90% of people doesn't guarantee that it won't work for me.'

He's not pleased that there's no guarantee. That's his beef with statistics.

That's a very imaginative interpretation of my comments, but it is quite inaccurate. My view is not an ethical judgement, so "bad" is an irrelevant locution to attribute to my perspective. Nor is my criticism that inferential statistics don't give us certainty. Nothing gives us certainty. My concern is rather that statistical inferences tend to falsely comfort us with the illusion of control. "90%" is an abstraction derived from assumptions untestable outside its own methods itself (i.e., the problem of induction)--as one finds in the unjustifiable claim that the rules of the probability calculus are "axiomatic".

I'm extremely pleased that there's no guarantee, so that's not my "beef" with statistics. Uncertainty keeps us from settling on assumptions. Remember, I'm concerned with the illusion of certainty, of which the "control" of the DBRCGM implies. In other words, I'm concerned with the standard misinterpretations of the so-called efficacy implications of the DBRCGM, especially where they conflate probability with certainty. What I find unpleasant is the false hope people derive from statistical inferences when they don't understand or forget that demarcations like "90%", "statistical significance," "confidence intervals," etc... are "determined" by fiat and overly rely on generally unrelated and absurd notions like Quetelet's l'homme moyen. When this is coupled with the way drug manufacturers, for instance, manipulate statistics, dangers like adverse reactions and contraindication ignorance are compounded.

Flannel Jesus wrote:Statistics aren't for guarantees. They help you increase your odds. Expected value. They make you a better gambler. That's what they're for, that's what they do, you even seem to agree that that's what they do, but that's just not good enough for you.
To your credit, you have this part of my comments accurate, except for the "that's just not good enough for you." It's not, and shouldn't be good enough for anyone. What's more important: trusting my experience, which is a complex enough task on its own, or trusting the highly complex and super-abstract inductive procedures of DBRCG studies? Both are valuable, but the former should always trump the latter. Otherwise, individuality is sacrificed to "scientific authority" and critical thinking to prejudicial faith.

This is not a new problem. As Hume put it in Section XIV, "Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion" in his A Treatise of Human Nature:

I am sensible, that of all the paradoxes, which I, have had, or shall hereafter have occasion to advance in the course of this treatise, the present one is the most violent, and that it is merely by dint of solid proof and reasoning I can ever hope it will have admission, and overcome the inveterate prejudices of mankind. Before we are reconciled to this doctrine, how often must we repeat to ourselves, that the simple view of any two objects or actions, however related, can never give us any idea, of power, or of a connexion betwixt them: that this idea arises from the repetition of their union: that the repetition neither discovers nor causes any thing in the objects, but has an influence only on the mind, by that customary transition it produces: that this customary transition is, therefore, the same with the power and necessity; which are consequently qualities of perceptions, not of objects, and are internally felt by the soul, and not perceivd externally in bodies? There is commonly an astonishment attending every thing extraordinary; and this astonishment changes immediately into the highest degree of esteem or contempt, according as we approve or disapprove of the subject. I am much afraid, that though the foregoing reasoning appears to me the shortest and most decisive imaginable; yet with the generality of readers the biass of the mind will prevail, and give them a prejudice against the present doctrine.

This contrary biass is easily accounted for. It is a common observation, that the mind has a great propensity to spread itself on external objects, and to conjoin with them any internal impressions, which they occasion, and which always make their appearance at the same time that these objects discover themselves to the senses. Thus as certain sounds and smells are always found to attend certain visible objects, we naturally imagine a conjunction, even in place, betwixt the objects and qualities, though the qualities be of such a nature as to admit of no such conjunction, and really exist no where. But of this more fully hereafter [Part IV, Sect. 5.]. Mean while it is sufficient to observe, that the same propensity is the reason, why we suppose necessity and power to lie in the objects we consider, not in our mind that considers them; notwithstanding it is not possible for us to form the most distant idea of that quality, when it is not taken for the determination of the mind, to pass from the idea of an object to that of its usual attendant.

But though this be the only reasonable account we can give of necessity, the contrary notion if; so riveted in the mind from the principles above-mentioned, that I doubt not but my sentiments will be treated by many as extravagant and ridiculous. What! the efficacy of causes lie in the determination of the mind! As if causes did not operate entirely independent of the mind, and would not continue their operation, even though there was no mind existent to contemplate them, or reason concerning them. Thought may well depend on causes for its operation, but not causes on thought. This is to reverse the order of nature, and make that secondary, which is really primary, To every operation there is a power proportioned; and this power must be placed on the body, that operates. If we remove the power from one cause, we must ascribe it to another: But to remove it from all causes, and bestow it on a being, that is no ways related to the cause or effect, but by perceiving them, is a gross absurdity, and contrary to the most certain principles of human reason.

I can only reply to all these arguments, that the case is here much the same, as if a blind man should pretend to find a great many absurdities in the supposition, that the colour of scarlet is not the same with the sound of a trumpet, nor light the same with solidity. If we have really no idea of a power or efficacy in any object, or of any real connexion betwixt causes and effects, it will be to little purpose to prove, that an efficacy is necessary in all operations. We do not understand our own meaning in talking so, but ignorantly confound ideas, which are entirely distinct from each other. I am, indeed, ready to allow, that there may be several qualities both in material and immaterial objects, with which we are utterly unacquainted; and if we please to call these POWER or EFFICACY, it will be of little consequence to the world. But when, instead of meaning these unknown qualities, we make the terms of power and efficacy signify something, of which we have a clear idea, and which is incompatible with those objects, to which we apply it, obscurity and error begin then to take place, and we are led astray by a false philosophy. This is the case, when we transfer the determination of the thought to external objects, and suppose any real intelligible connexion betwixt them; that being a quality, which can only belong to the mind that considers them.

As to what may be said, that the operations of nature are independent of our thought and reasoning, I allow it; and accordingly have observed, that objects bear to each other the relations of contiguity and succession: that like objects may be observed in several instances to have like relations; and that all this is independent of, and antecedent to the operations of the understanding. But if we go any farther, and ascribe a power or necessary connexion to these objects; this is what we can never observe in them, but must draw the idea of it from what we feel internally in contemplating them. And this I carry so far, that I am ready to convert my present reasoning into an instance of it, by a subtility, which it will not be difficult to comprehend.

When any object is presented to us, it immediately conveys to the mind a lively idea of that object, which is usually found to attend it; and this determination of the mind forms the necessary connexion of these objects. But when we change the point of view, from the objects to the perceptions; in that case the impression is to be considered as the cause, and the lively idea as the effect; and their necessary connexion is that new determination, which we feel to pass from the idea of the one to that of the other. The uniting principle among our internal perceptions is as unintelligible as that among external objects, and is not known to us any other way than by experience. Now the nature and effects of experience have been already sufficiently examined and explained. It never gives us any insight into the internal structure or operating principle of objects, but only accustoms the mind to pass from one to another.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:Actually, what it "gives" us is better dart throwing technique.
Well, that's great then.

Moreno wrote: it does much better than random guesses.
Actually, it gives us confidene that our guessing is less random, but it is only confidence: we can neither inductively nor deductively know for sure, and knowing is what we want. We still have to assume the coin is fair, which we can neither prove deductivley nor experimentally.[/quote]I suppose if you have perfect faith in your deduction, you might Think this. If you mean that we can never know for sure that the increased confidence - which varies widely from individual to individual - is the right amount of increased confidence, sure, I agree. And I do Think the Medical industry, for example, overestimates its confidence. This hasn't affected my confidence in it however.

Moreno wrote:Dow makes 40 Chemicals, randomly.
"Makes chemicals" implies choice, and therefore, contradicts "randomly."
Moreno wrote:First they DBRCG test them on rats, then on humans. Some kill (it seems), some maim (it seems), others do nothing (it seems) and some seem to be beneficial and so on.
Again, more choice making.

Moreno wrote:Would you, if someone pointed a gun at you,

A choose a chemical at random from the and drink it?
Did you not understand? With a gun pointed at your head and they will kill you if you do not choose, you could simply call out the 7th from the right OR you could look at the research and then choose informed to some degree by the research. Me, for example, I would not drink any of the ones that killed a bunch of mice and some humans. I would not be happy to drink one of the ones that in DB testing did not kill any of the rodents or humans, but I would damn well use the information. Your OP seems to imply that there would be no reason to use DB studies to make choices. The kind of skepticism that would argue that is one that I would guess most skeptics would give up once push came to shove. They would consider such research to improve chances of making an informed choice. And that is all any careful empiricist would suggest one is doing. It is true, a lot of empiricits are not careful, especially when they stand to make Money on interpretations, etc. But your OP makes it sound like we should give up such research. I mean, it COSTs Money. If it does not improve over chance, we could buy some food to feed AFricans - though, it is only via empirical research that we know people die without food also - and just choose what Chemicals to ingest randomly. So much Money would be saved or better spent elsewhere.

Remember, I'm concerned with the illusion of certainty, of which the "control" of the DBRCGM implies.
I doubt there is a single philosopher who Thinks such studies give certainty. Any working doctor would also know this is not the case, given what happens when patients take drugs. Psychologists and sociologists would also be incredibly skeptical about certainty.

Now many of these people likely overestimate how much confidence you can have, but the illusion of certainty is, yes, such an illusion that this exists.

I would also like to repeat that since you do not Think deduction is perfect and clearly Learning even from highly controlled experience is clearly not perfect, you seem to be presenting your own conclusions IN VERY CERTAIN TERMS.

What do you base your certainty on?

Moreno
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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Flannel Jesus wrote:
landis wrote:Only individuals can, and drug effects vary wildly from individual to individual.

That's...sorta...exactly the point of large sample sizes and double blind studies in the first place. That's precisely why they're done.

There are multiple reasons why DBRCG studies are conducted, and as is the case with drugs, they're usually not done with the safety of individuals in mind. That's mostly lip service. The final goal of drug studies is to manufacture profit, and one of the ways this goal is achieved is through scientificating the results with DBRCG "methodology."

landis wrote:The best, for instance, that drug studies that rely on inferential statistics sampling can do is help individuals gamble about drug consumption choices better

Flannel Jesus wrote:You may not have meant it this way, but this statement - that using statistics helps you make better 'gambling' choices - completely supports the entire point of doing double blind studies. You try to subtly deride it by using the word 'gambling', but you're saying that using these statistics rather than not using them does, in fact, give you a better chance of making the right choice. Which is what the statistics are for. So...yes, they help people 'gamble' about their drug choices better...and that's really the entire point of them in the first place.
I agree that statistics are useful, but their utility is highly overrated.

landis wrote:As Hume rightly stressed, induction doe not warrant such faith.

Flannel Jesus wrote:Induction is the only thing that could possibly warrant thinking that something works.

Only? Is this indicative of your faith in induction? Induction itself is contrary to your "only" implication. Recall the first two rules of the probability calculus: Minimal Rule 1: No probability is less than zero; Minimal Rule 2: If A is a tautology, Pr(A)=1. Your use of "only" equals "1" or "100%, a violation of these rules and an ignorance or forgetfulness about why the problem of induction is a problem.

And whether or not "something works" depends on exactly what that something is and what precisely is meant by "works."

Flannel Jesus wrote:You can't prove that a drug works by sitting in your arm chair thinking about it.
What does induction have to do with proof?
Flannel Jesus wrote:That's what statistics and studies are for. So, yes, induction does warrant, not 'faith' because that's just your derogatory term to put down inductive beliefs, but...if a double blind study shows that drug x is significantly more effective than placebo on 90% of people, and 5% of people experience nausea with the drug, then yes, induction most definitely warrants thinking, "Hey, I've got a 90% chance of this drug helping me and a 5% chance of experiencing nausea". I don't see what the problem is with that.

Statistical studies serve a variety of purposes, not just the ones you're limiting them to.

What do you mean by "shows"?

"Inductive beliefs"? According to Bayesianism, they are more than beliefs. They are the "axioms" of the probability calculus.

Placebos are "good enough" for the time being, but they are not always a reliable methodological tool. We should not rely too heavily on our assumptions about them and rest on our laurels by continuing to assume that they provide reliable standards of comparison. As Guy P. Harrison in his book Think: Why You Should Question Everything (setting aside for now the fact that he constantly violates this maxim in his book, especially when it comes to his scientific materialist, atheistic, ultra-sceptical assumptions):

Warren wrote:It's always a good idea to keep in mind the placebo effect when hearing about some alternative medicine that a salesperson, friend or family member is raving about. This strange phenomenon is very real and undoubtedly is responsible for much of medical quackery's success. Some people some of the time can get a positive health benefit from taking a fake medicine pill....instead of real medicine. This is well documented but still is not fully understood. The problem you need to keep in mind, however, is that it's not consistent, and even if there is some positive gain, it might not be enough to get one through an illness safely. So the placebo effect is not something anyone should rely on (p. 102, Prometheus: 2013; my emphases).

Your 90%/5% breakdown is a good example of how DBRCG studies are misunderstood. The results do not mean you have "a 90% of the drug helping you." They mean that with this population, 90% of the cohorts were observed to derived a benefit. This raises several problems. First, how were the benefits measured, and how satisfied are we that our instruments are reliable measures (see the OP, parenthesis, end of paragraph 1)? Secondly, is this sample representative of the greater population? This, by the problem of induction, can never be elevated beyond the realm of speculation. Thirdly, did we use critical thinking skills to apply this confidence interval? Is it justifiable? Fourthly, have we accounted for all the possible benefits and all the possible adversities? Fifthly, are we warranted in defining nausea as a concern? Did we trial the drug long enough to test whether or not this was a permanent effect, or one that would subside? I could go on, and might, depending on your response.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

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### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:There are multiple reasons why DBRCG studies are conducted, and as is the case with drugs, they're usually not done with the safety of individuals in mind. That's mostly lip service. The final goal of drug studies is to manufacture profit, and one of the ways this goal is achieved is through scientificating the results with DBRCG "methodology."

So your notion is that it is all just a conspiracy?
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend

Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Moreno wrote:....We still have to assume the coin is fair....
This is not necessary. But it is pragmatic.

Moreno wrote:But your OP makes it sound like we should give up such research.

I apologize. I could have expanded on that, but I wondered if it was not already too long. I think we should continue to try to improve such research and not fools ourselves, and especially not let the researchers fool us into, believing that our methods are the best they're ever going to get.

Moreno wrote:I would also like to repeat that since you do not Think deduction is perfect and clearly Learning even from highly controlled experience is clearly not perfect, you seem to be presenting your own conclusions IN VERY CERTAIN TERMS.

What do you base your certainty on?

Repeat? Where did you initially state this? Anyway, part of the reason I framed my OP the way I did was for rhetorical effect and to stimulate discourse and a free exchange of ideas (which certainly seems to have worked), and, as I've tried to clarify with Flannel Jesus, nothing is certain (and I'm not even certain of that ). Still, I'm extremely sceptical about claiming that we have anything like "highly controlled experience" but rather, as William James put it, a world of "one great blooming, buzzing confusion."
Last edited by landis on Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

James S Saint wrote:
landis wrote:There are multiple reasons why DBRCG studies are conducted, and as is the case with drugs, they're usually not done with the safety of individuals in mind. That's mostly lip service. The final goal of drug studies is to manufacture profit, and one of the ways this goal is achieved is through scientificating the results with DBRCG "methodology."

So your notion is that it is all just a conspiracy?

No. Is your notion that all conspiracies are fake?
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:Is your notion that all conspiracies are fake?

You obviously have no idea who you are talking at. I know conspiracies really, really well. And that means that I also know when something is simply being presumptuously mistaken for one.

You seem to have a misunderstanding of why statistics are done the way they are done. I agree very much that they are used in deceptive ways, but you are not talking about one of those ways.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend

Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

James S Saint wrote:
landis wrote:Is your notion that all conspiracies are fake?
...I know conspiracies really, really well.
Please elaborate. Some of my favorite conspiracies from history are the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Gunpowder Plot, the execution of Charles I, Thomas Cromwell's execution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the raid on Harpers Ferry, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Watergate, 9/11. Conspiracies are quite commonplace. An entire arm of most existing legal systems devote a tremendous amount of resources to their investigation and prosecution. Even someone as ultra-sceptical as Guy P. Harrison acknowledges as much:
Harrison wrote:[When] analyzing the conspiracy theory phenomenon, it is important to be clear that evil, destructive, and criminal conspiracies are very real. They happen all the time. Of course people get together to plan and execute bad deeds. We are social creatures--for better and for worse. Both history books and today's headlines offer countless examples of mischief by committee.... Because conspiracies really do happen, it is important for people, sceptics included, to avoid lumping all conspiracy theories together. Many of them deserve a hearing, not only for the sake of fairness but also to help counter claims of a cover-up (Think: Why You Should Question Everything, pp. 125-6. Prometheus: 2013.).

James S Saint wrote:And that means that I also know when something is simply being presumptuously mistaken for one.

Which conspiracy would that be?

James S Saint wrote:You seem to have a misunderstanding of why statistics are done the way they are done.
Could you be more specific?
James S Saint wrote:I agree very much that they are used in deceptive ways, but you are not talking about one of those ways.

I've cited only the well documented abuses of pharmaceutical companies (and Flannel Jesus opened that door). There's nothing secretive or conspiratorial (at least not any more--and there never was "one big conspiracy" as you put it; but there were several--and many more forthcoming--well documented small conspiracies to mislead the public) about the widespread misconduct in that industry, and their manipulation and doctoring of research, including their misuse of statistics. My point is that the flaws of the DBRCGM and the public's unwarranted confidence in its processes make such "mischief by committee" abuses easier to execute and more likely to occur.
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:
James S Saint wrote:
landis wrote:Is your notion that all conspiracies are fake?
...I know conspiracies really, really well.
Please elaborate. Some of my favorite conspiracies from history are the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Gunpowder Plot, the execution of Charles I, Thomas Cromwell's execution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the raid on Harpers Ferry, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Watergate, 9/11. Conspiracies are quite commonplace. An entire arm of most existing legal systems devote a tremendous amount of resources to their investigation and prosecution. Even someone as ultra-sceptical as Guy P. Harrison acknowledges as much:
Harrison wrote:[When] analyzing the conspiracy theory phenomenon, it is important to be clear that evil, destructive, and criminal conspiracies are very real. They happen all the time. Of course people get together to plan and execute bad deeds. We are social creatures--for better and for worse. Both history books and today's headlines offer countless examples of mischief by committee.... Because conspiracies really do happen, it is important for people, sceptics included, to avoid lumping all conspiracy theories together. Many of them deserve a hearing, not only for the sake of fairness but also to help counter claims of a cover-up (Think: Why You Should Question Everything, pp. 125-6. Prometheus: 2013.).

James S Saint wrote:And that means that I also know when something is simply being presumptuously mistaken for one.

Which conspiracy would that be?

James S Saint wrote:You seem to have a misunderstanding of why statistics are done the way they are done.
Could you be more specific?
James S Saint wrote:I agree very much that they are used in deceptive ways, but you are not talking about one of those ways.

I've cited only the well documented abuses of pharmaceutical companies (and Flannel Jesus opened that door). There's nothing secretive or conspiratorial (at least not any more--and there never was "one big conspiracy" as you put it; but there were several--and many more forthcoming--well documented small conspiracies to mislead the public) about the widespread misconduct in that industry, and their manipulation and doctoring of research, including their misuse of statistics. My point is that the flaws of the DBRCGM and the public's unwarranted confidence in its processes make such "mischief by committee" abuses easier to execute and more likely to occur.

I agree with all of that, but when I tried to discuss an actual legitimate DBRCGM, somehow the communication just seems to break down. I am not interested in discussing the conspiracies on this thread because you challenged the legitimacy of the real method itself even without any maliciousness. I am not seeing that the method itself is flawed. Statistics and the media merely allow for deception and thus of course, they go for it as fast as they can. But they always begin with something that when done properly is legitimate. Deceptions don't work unless there is a lot of truth within them.
Clarify, Verify, Instill, and Reinforce the Perception of Hopes and Threats unto Anentropic Harmony
Else
From THIS age of sleep, Homo-sapien shall never awake.

The Wise gather together to help one another in EVERY aspect of living.

You are always more insecure than you think, just not by what you think.
The only absolute certainty is formed by the absolute lack of alternatives.
It is not merely "do what works", but "to accomplish what purpose in what time frame at what cost".
As long as the authority is secretive, the population will be subjugated.

Amid the lack of certainty, put faith in the wiser to believe.
Devil's Motto: Make it look good, safe, innocent, and wise.. until it is too late to choose otherwise.

The Real God ≡ The reason/cause for the Universe being what it is = "The situation cannot be what it is and also remain as it is".
.
James S Saint
ILP Legend

Posts: 25976
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:05 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Article Text:

Although RCTs are pretty good at establishing statistically significant benefit, they have traditionally not been good at predicting how well a particular treatment will work for any given individual.... Investigators cannot see what they are not looking for. Unanticipated side effects often go unnoticed.... [D]ouble-blind clinical trials of antidepressants were incapable of detecting side effects that they were not looking for.... [T]he impressive placebo-controlled statin studies did not detect type 2 diabetes as a side effect, largely because the investigators did not know it existed and did not look for it.

Responder Text:

john b abeles md wrote:Another flaw I believe exists in every double blind study on the efficacy side. That is, there is no knowledge of how many placebo-responders or non-responders exist in either the active drug group or the placebo group prior to the study commencing.

Thus the supposed non-difference (a failed efficacy study) between drug and placebo could be because there is a preponderance of placebo-responders in the placebo group versus the drug group. Similarly, a supposed successful separation of the drug from placebo in its effects, could be due to the placebo group having fewer placebo-responders in it compared to the drug group.

It is known that there are, broadly, those that respond to placebo and those that do not. Entrants to a double-blind study are not randomized to have equal distribution of each in each group. To do so they would have to be individually tested, and such is difficult, expensive and not very accurate by any standard.

When challenged, researchers have said it is 'likely' that the differences between groups is ironed out by the number of patients -- but that is a guess. They really don't know either how many of each are actually in the study, nor how many people should be in the study to statistically obtain an near-equal weighting by chance...

No-one has satisfactorily answered this challenge I have posed to regulators, drug study designers and researchers in my long career in medical venture capital investing in and developing early medical companies.

Another thing to remember -- before the worship of the double blind study, many of our most useful drugs emerged from good observational studies -- aspirin, barbiturates, atropine, penicillin, steroids, antihistamines etc.

Source: Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs): A Flawed Gold Standard

Consider this also: should those with profit motive even be conducting studies on their own products? If the DBRCGM was as methodologically sound as most assume, this should not be an issue. See, for instance, Scope and Impact of Financial Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research: A Systematic Review, and How Well Do Meta-Analyses Disclose Conflicts of Interests in Underlying Research Studies.

The Importance of Beta, the Type II Error and Sample Size in the Design and Interpretation of the Randomized Control Trial — Survey of 71 Negative Trials
Reporting of sample size calculation in randomised controlled trials: review
Sample Size Calculations for Randomized Controlled Trials
Statins have no side effects? What our study really found, its fixable flaws, and why trials transparency matters (again).
Why we need observational studies to evaluate the effectiveness of health care.
Limitations of the Randomized Controlled Trial in Evaluating Population-Based Health Interventions
External validity of randomised controlled trials: “To whom do the results of this trial apply?”
Eligibility Criteria of Randomized Controlled Trials Published in High-Impact General Medical Journals: A Systematic Sampling Review
Special Article: A Comparison of Observational Studies and Randomized, Controlled Trials
Comparison of Evidence of Treatment Effects in Randomized and Nonrandomized Studies
Observational Research, Randomised Trials, and Two Views of Medical Science
When are randomised trials unnecessary? Picking signal from noise
JOURNAL OF MEDICAL CASE REPORTS. Case report on trial: Do you, Doctor, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

landis wrote:
Article Text:

Although RCTs are pretty good at establishing statistically significant benefit, they have traditionally not been good at predicting how well a particular treatment will work for any given individual.... Investigators cannot see what they are not looking for. Unanticipated side effects often go unnoticed.... [D]ouble-blind clinical trials of antidepressants were incapable of detecting side effects that they were not looking for.... [T]he impressive placebo-controlled statin studies did not detect type 2 diabetes as a side effect, largely because the investigators did not know it existed and did not look for it.

Responder Text:

john b abeles md wrote:Another flaw I believe exists in every double blind study on the efficacy side. That is, there is no knowledge of how many placebo-responders or non-responders exist in either the active drug group or the placebo group prior to the study commencing.

Thus the supposed non-difference (a failed efficacy study) between drug and placebo could be because there is a preponderance of placebo-responders in the placebo group versus the drug group. Similarly, a supposed successful separation of the drug from placebo in its effects, could be due to the placebo group having fewer placebo-responders in it compared to the drug group.

It is known that there are, broadly, those that respond to placebo and those that do not. Entrants to a double-blind study are not randomized to have equal distribution of each in each group. To do so they would have to be individually tested, and such is difficult, expensive and not very accurate by any standard.

When challenged, researchers have said it is 'likely' that the differences between groups is ironed out by the number of patients -- but that is a guess. They really don't know either how many of each are actually in the study, nor how many people should be in the study to statistically obtain an near-equal weighting by chance...

No-one has satisfactorily answered this challenge I have posed to regulators, drug study designers and researchers in my long career in medical venture capital investing in and developing early medical companies.

Another thing to remember -- before the worship of the double blind study, many of our most useful drugs emerged from good observational studies -- aspirin, barbiturates, atropine, penicillin, steroids, antihistamines etc.

Both of these quotes do NOT say that double blind studies are inherently incorrect in any way, at all. They do not say the things that you suggest in your writings; they do not say anything confirming your ill-thought notion that a larger sample size makes the study 'more complex' and thus less effective.

These both say that being double-blind is not enough. That the current way of performing studies is incomplete. Not that it is wrong. Not that big sample sizes make the study worse by adding 'complexity'. Not that 'randomization contradicts control'. None of your points are here supported by these quotes, and you will have a hard time finding quotes that do because it's nonsense. Your 'complexity argument' is a misunderstanding. Your 'random assignment contradicts control' argument is a misunderstanding.

You have an apparent beef with double blind studies. They also have an apparent beef with it. But that's where the similarity between your ideas and theirs ends. They do not support your arguments.

Flannel Jesus

Posts: 5160
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:32 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

That's an amusing link: it suggests LARGER sample sizes. It suggests that the studies that it's criticising failed because they were using too small sample sizes.

I don't think you're in your element here.

Flannel Jesus

Posts: 5160
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:32 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Flannel Jesus wrote:Both of these quotes do NOT say that double blind studies are inherently incorrect in any way, at all.
Again, you're attributing points to me I've never made. The locution "incorrect" does not apply to my critique. These quotes support my point that DBRGC studies do not account for the extreme complexities of individuals, the subsequent extremely compounded complexities of groups comprised of extremely complex, that these complexes increase exponentially with sample size, and Quetletian/Bayesian fallacies the statistical inferences are allegedly designed to say something meaningful about, even though the parameter are do by fiat. Instead of addressing these points by their merits, which you haven't even begun to do,you just keep repeating your belief in the validity of your and the DBRCG assumptions.
Flannel Jesus wrote:These both say that being double-blind is not enough.
If you'd been actually reading what I've said instead imputing to me things you've imagined I've implied, you'd know that part of what I'm saying is exactly this. See my posts to Moreno.
Flannel Jesus wrote:That the current way of performing studies is incomplete.
This is exactly what I'm saying and I've given specific reasons for it which you've almost completely ignored. You've just restated a few of my comments out of context and repeated ad nauseam, without substance, that this violates your faith in the method. For example:
Flannel Jesus wrote:Not that it is wrong.
Again another locution attributed to me I never said.
Flannel Jesus wrote:Not that big sample sizes make the study worse by adding 'complexity'.
"Worse" is another mis-attributed locution. I'm saying it creates the illusion of more control than there likely is. "Worse" or "better" are normative judgements for individuals to make through their individual experience with drugs.
Flannel Jesus wrote:Not that 'randomization contradicts control'. None of your points are here supported by these quotes, and you will have a hard time finding quotes that do because it's nonsense. Your 'complexity argument' is a misunderstanding. Your 'random assignment contradicts control' argument is a misunderstanding.
When you've exhausted your supply of synonymous ways to restate that you disagree with me, please provide a detailed, specific and substantive critique of the content of my views. Other participants in this thread have been able to do so. It would be nice if you would too.

Flannel Jesus wrote:You have an apparent beef with double blind studies. They also have an apparent beef with it. But that's where the similarity between your ideas and theirs ends. They do not support your arguments.
Again, my "beef" is not with double blind studies. They have their usefulness, which you'd know if you'd paid more more careful attention to my comments. My beef is with the strength most people seem to impute to their significance, especially when they're cited in media like advertisements or the popular press, linked to profit motive, or disconnected from underlying unexamined assumptions about scientific "progress."
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

### Re: Control?: The Double Blind, Random Gontrol Group Method

Flannel Jesus wrote:

That's an amusing link: it suggests LARGER sample sizes. It suggests that the studies that it's criticising failed because they were using too small sample sizes.

I don't think you're in your element here.

I apologize if I gave the impression that I was citing documents that only support my critique. My intention was to provide a survey of the problems. And there are plenty of references that support my critique. Have you read all of them?

With all due respect, I was wondering the same thing about you not being in your element.

I've compiled some basic philosophy of science literature to not only help you understand "my element" but also to help you expand yours. I'd suggest you read through these before you make any more unfounded allegations about my perspective (again, this is a survey--not citations to only support my analysis).

Feyerabend's "Science and Myth" excerpt from his Against Method

Schick's introduction to Induction and Confirmation, Hume's passage about "the problem of induction" in his Enquiry, and Hempel's, "The Role of Induction...."

Popper's "The Role of Induction" (pdf pp. 9-13) from Conjectures & Refutations

Duhem's "Physical Theory and Experiment"

Kuhn's "Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?"

Lakatos' "Falsification and the Methodology of Research Programmes"

Laudan's "A Problem Solving Approach to Scientific Progress"

Lipton's "Inference to the Best Explanation"

Kuhn's views on observation from his Structures

Hesse's "Is There an Independent Observation Language?"

Hempel's "Laws and Their Role in Scientific
Explanation"
"Questions of reality are too important to be left to the scientists."
-Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science (p. 51; Polity: 2012).
"Arguments seldom make converts in matters philosophical."
-William James, Principles (p. 468, v. 1)
"Argument is propaganda for one observer, the essence of human discourse for another."
-Feyerabend, Against Method (p. 236; Verso: 2010)
Blog: http://thislandismylandis.wordpress.com/
landis

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