Fazendo ciência cum granun salis pro bonum publico et scientia

terça-feira, julho 14, 2009

Education and debate

Effect of interpretive bias on research evidence

Ted J Kaptchuk

BMJ 2003;326;1453-1455


Doctors are being encouraged to improve their critical appraisal skills to make better use of medical research. But when using these skills, it is important to remember that interpretation of data is inevitably subjective and can itself result in bias.

Facts do not accumulate on the blank slates of researchers’ minds and data simply do not speak for themselves. [1] Good science inevitably embodies a tension between the empiricism of concrete data and the rationalism of deeply held convictions. Unbiased interpretation of data is as important as performing rigorous experiments. This evaluative process is never totally objective or completely independent of scientists’ convictions or theoretical apparatus. This article elaborates on an insight of Vandenbroucke, who noted that “facts and theories remain inextricably linked . . . At the cutting edge of scientific progress, where new ideas develop, we will never escape subjectivity.” [2] Interpretation can produce sound judgments or systematic error. Only hindsight will enable us to tell which has occurred.

Nevertheless, awareness of the systematic errors that can occur in evaluative processes may facilitate the self regulating forces of science and help produce reliable knowledge sooner rather than later.
However, a view that science is totally objective is mythical, and ignores the human element of medical inquiry. Awareness of subjectivity will make assessment of evidence more honest, rational, and reasonable. [21]


Summary points

Evidence does not speak for itself and must be interpreted for quality and likelihood of error.

Interpretation is never completely independent of a scientist’s beliefs, preconceptions, or theoretical commitments.

On the cutting edge of science, scientific interpretation can lead to sound judgment or interpretative biases; the distinction can often be made only in retrospect.

Common interpretative biases include confirmation bias, rescue bias, auxiliary
hypothesis bias, mechanism bias, “time will tell” bias, and orientation bias.

The interpretative process is a necessary aspect of science and represents an ignored subjective and human component of rigorous medical inquiry.


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Não sei por que, mas eu fui, rindo, e pensando no como que a Nomenklatura científica aceita as evidências circunstanciais que corroboram o fato, Fato, FATO da evolução, sem este ceticismo rigoroso saudável. Especialmente no que diz respeito às pesquisas quase inexistentes sobre o estabelecimento da macroevolução como fato científico inconteste, isto é, como que um Australopithecus afarensis se transformou em Antropólogo parisiense...