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Doug Forrester


As For Flawed Studies

The thougth that every study has a flaw is simply not true.  Epidemiological studies are typically flawed due to their design,  clinical studies are not.  Clinical studies involve calculations about sample sizing and statistical powering.  So in the design phase of the study you have statisticians look at what you are trying to prove with however much statistical confidence.  Typically you must prove your idea in a clinical study with at least 95% confidence level.  This is the standard that the scientific community measures "statistical significance" with.

A statistician applies this "statistical power" to your study idea and design and tells you how many subjects you will need in your study.  Epidemiology studies also include such pre-analysis, however, all of this is highly based on the concreteness of your endpoint.

In other words, in a clinical trial studying cholesterol levels, it is easy to know your endpoint because there is a hard endpoint measured by a lab test.  Also clinical studies are much more involved, they are not retroactive views of data points.  You have subjects come in on a regular basis to have blood tests etc. done.  And you get a really good data collection of what they eat, when they sleep, what adverse effects they have.  Almost in real time and in any case you make inferences based solely on the data performed in the study itself.

Not so in epidemiological studies.  When studying large populations typically this is done by having people come in and fill out a questionaire about their past medical and family history.  Inferences on this data lead to the conclusions of the study.  Back to endpoints.  Cancer or Autism is not a hard endpoint. any disease whose principal cause or causes are not yet fully known cannot possibly be studies in an epidemiological study without some flaws.  Or if you do want to study it epidemilogically you would need a 100 page questionaire that covers everything from the water you drink and the food you eat, to the environment you live in, to the family history, etc etc. etc.

This extra info that is required tpyically raises the amounts of variables and eventually raises your sample size to levels where either cost or general size makes it near impossible to perform.  

Thus epidemiological studies are typically flawed in some way or another, however, when coupled with clinical trials they can be very beneficial to the science at hand.

In the case for autism I think from what I have learned is that there are tons of clinical studies (and even epidemiological studies) that have shown the link to thimerosal.  If not they have shown at least a level of scietific and statistical SUSPICION of a link.

This means there is reason to believe that there MAY be a link.  And when talkin about children's health MAYBE is a good enough reason to remove a preservative don't you think?

Particularly since the only reason they use it is to save a buck or two on each dose.  

Good news, thimerosal has already been removed from domestic vaccines.  

Bad news, thimerosal laden vaccines (the surplus) has been shipped to developing countries as part of aid efforts.  In short we are innoculating whole foreign populations with autism.

Doesn't this make you proud to be an american?

Media In Trouble

by media in trouble on August 12 at 1:57 PM EST


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