Median Watch

Eyes on statistics

Success without substance

Reposted with permission from 360info. New Zealander Nigel Richards has won the French Scrabble championship twice. What’s more remarkable than double wins is that Nigel doesn’t speak French. He applied his prodigious brain to the task of memorising words from the French dictionary, bypassing the need for understanding. In 2022, The Lancet medical journal achieved a feat that has parallels with Nigel’s Scrabble win. It achieved the highest ‘impact factor’ of any scientific journal in history.

The COVID-19 crisis is amplifying shortcomings in health and medical research.

Re-posted from Campus Morning Mail. Poor quality medical research is nothing new. A major cause is the race to be published first, which means researchers do not adequately check their work. The COVID-19 crisis has put an already pressured system under even more strain, and the cracks are clearly visible. Small studies have been used to justify massive changes in clinical practice, such as the early results on Hydroxychloroquine, which have looked less promising as more work is published.

It's fun to look at the Y A C M (Yet Another COVID Model)

Yet another COVID model. I did this modelling because I was asked to provide some COVID estimates for a hospital. There have been lots of models in the last few weeks and I don’t want to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio in this vitally important area, but I’m sharing this in case someone finds my approach useful. All the code is here. I have used similar models before to simulate disease numbers over time, for example my PhD student Dimity used microsimulation to examine the long-term effects of climate change (Stephen and Barnett 2017).