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My Mission

Helping Others through the Synergy of Science and Caring
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August 10, 2013


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At a minimum it would be useful for people to understand a handful of things even if they had no clue about math. For instance: the difference between absolute and relative risk, what is means for something to be statistically significant (and also recognize the same concept when they use the term confidence interval) and how that applies to groups of people where (typically) 5% don't fit and what applies to groups doesn't mean it absolutely will apply to you (as you might be in that 5%); when an "n" of 1 (eg your own personal experience or that of a friend) doesn't negate statistics...

Yeah and also that this stuff works all the time, not just when you want it to

Wendy S. Harpham, M.D.

Dear Liz,
Thanks so much for your comment.

People can get tripped up by words that mean one thing in the context of statistics and another when used in everyday language.

Learning that a treatment results in a "significant" improvement in a clinical trial may lead a patient to feel very hopeful to the point of expecting a good result when the data, in fact, suggest only that the treatment is better than doing nothing.

I expect to share a few other thoughts from the book in some future posts. With hope, Wendy

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