Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Osler Corner - On probability

"The problems of disease are more complicated and difficult than any others with which the trained mind has to grapple... Variability is the law of life. As no two faces are the same, so no two bodies are alike, and no two individuals react alike and behave alike under the abnormal conditions which we know as disease. This is the fundamental difficulty in the education of the physician, and one which he or she may never grasp... probability is the guide of life".
Sir William Osler 1, 1921
Here lies the basis for clinical decision making and evidence based medicine. What is the probability that "Liver extract" will improve fatigue or that Astaxanthin (a carotenoid pigment) will solve male infertility? (more of these later)

For that matter, what is the probability that any given clinical trial sponsored and controlled by GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, or Procter and Gamble will be honest?

This quote appears on a few websites promoting magical medicine. However they routinely omit the last sentence of the quotation, reversing the essence of Osler's wisdom. Osler would not have liked magical medicine - of the "GlaxoSmithKline" variety or the "liver extract" variety.

Click here for collated posts from the Osler Corner

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Where did you find the factual information that Astaxanthin will "solve" male fertility?? I have read that it somehow worked to make male sperm more potent but i have never seen any facutal information stating that it solves the issue. I found my information from this ebook on pages 75-76 at,_low_resolution.pdf

Actually this is the ONLY place on the internet where i found such a wealth of information on it!!