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Re: What criteria should we use for interpreting epidemiology?

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  • Re: What criteria should we use for interpreting epidemiology?

    Chris and others,

    I can think of nothing that would more quickly dilute the truth, than
    research by consensus. Even small scientific teams, composed of a
    senior scientist and a handful of post docs, working on a limited
    budget, can find the truth if they use good experimental techniques. If
    their sample size is considered by some to be small, then others can
    replicate the study with a larger sample to confirm or refute the
    findings. This is, after all, the way science corrects itself over

    I can recall an exchange between two men I very much respect, at the
    2003 ASB conference in Toledo, Ohio, USA:

    Dr. McNeil Alexander had just finished giving a wonderful Borelli Award
    Lecture. After a few questions from the audience, Dr. Peter Cavanagh
    asked Dr. Alexander if he had any advice for the young people in the
    audience who were just beginning their careers. After thinking for a
    moment, Dr. Alexander replied, "Don't follow the herd." He went on to
    say that important discoveries in science seem to happen more often when
    people allow themselves to think independently.

    It is difficult for me to imagine this happening as easily within the
    consortium described by Dr. Ioannidis, as quoted in an earlier BIOMCH-L

    [These are my opinions, and not necessarily those of NIOSH.]

    Best regards,

    Frank L Buczek Jr, PhD
    Branch Chief, HELD/ECTB
    National Institute for Occupational
    Safety and Health (NIOSH)
    1095 Willowdale Road MS 2027
    Morgantown, WV 26505
    304-285-5966 voice, 304-285-6265 fax

    -----Original Message-----
    From: * Biomechanics and Movement Science listserver
    [mailto:BIOMCH-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL] On Behalf Of Chris Kirtley
    Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 7:11 AM
    Subject: Re: [BIOMCH-L] What criteria should we use for interpreting

    Very interesting, Adrian!

    For those interested, the original article is at:

    I have often thought that research papers have following weaknesses:

    1. In the introduction or background (which should build the case for
    question being answered), reference is often made to statements by
    others in
    a similar section of their paper, or speculative comments in the
    In my view, reference should only be made to the conclusions previous

    2. Particularly in biomechanics (and even more sports biomechanics) I
    suspect, scientists often rely on their intuitive feelings about what is
    true, refusing to believe results which have been confirmed over and

    3. The numbers of subjects and tests are usually so small as to make the
    application of statistics absurd.

    Great food for discussion, Adrian & David!