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The Friday Funny: Why Evidence-Based Medicine Is Not The Whole Story

Thanks to Harriet Hall, I found this hilarious spoof article from the BMJ which perfectly illustrates why “Evidence-Based Medicine” (EBM) alone is not sufficient for answering medical questions. The abstract perfectly illustrates why randomized controlled trials must be viewed within the context of general scientific knowledge rather than in isolation. The weakness of EBM has been an over-reliance on “methodolatry” – resulting in conclusions made without consideration of prior probability, laws of physics, or plain common sense.

EBM is valuable but not sufficient for drawing accurate conclusions… which is why Steve Novella and the Science Based Medicine team have proposed that our quest for reliable information (upon which to make informed health decisions) should be based on good science rather than EBM alone.

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials

Gordon C S Smithprofessor1Jill P Pellconsultant2

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, 2 Department of Public Health, Greater Glasgow NHS Board, Glasgow G3 8YU

Correspondence to: G C S Smith


Objectives To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge.

Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources: Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.

Study selection: Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during free fall.

Main outcome measure Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity score > 15.

Results We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of parachute intervention.

Conclusions As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.

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