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Datamining for terrorists and do doctors hate science?

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2009 by Hanna Tagged: ,

Is datamining analogous to diagnostic testing? Scanning for disease brings up issues of false positives and false negatives, positive and negative predictive value as well as somewhere along the line thinking about costs, both monetary and social. Here Ben Goldacre has opened up a debate which some have said on his comments page is not valid. I remember coming across some interesting sociological articles about evidence based medicine and whilst it is admirable to think that maybe someone in another field has looked at this before perhaps it is foolish to lose all critical faculties in awe of something new.

And do doctors hate science? Well some of them obviously but this is to misjudge the interface between patients and doctors and then the scientific establishment – it is one thing to write guidelines based on science for example and another to implement them I know from my own work. Other boggers have said journalism is misrepresenting the situation and/or is not optimistic enough about the future which includes personalised medicine.

An interesting article in Practice Nurse (27/02/2009, pp.47-52) explores the partnership working now being pushed in the clinical relationship, is it possible or even desirable to work in partnership with patients if their desires are seemingly at odds with those of the clinician, the local practice guidance or society? There are some interesting examples of decision aids that aim to help patients make choices about their individual risks and the Picker Institute is flagged as a body providing data on patient experiences of medicine (new to me).

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2 Responses to “Datamining for terrorists and do doctors hate science?”

  1. I think a lot of Doctors, particularly in the US, actually earn a living through unnecessary procedures, so I guess they have something of a vested interest in ‘proving’ that EBM is all stuff and nonsense…

    Oh, and did you mean bloggers? Well perhaps not, I quite like the name ‘boggers’ 🙂

  2. I think ‘terrorists’ have become the new, fashionable replacement for ‘communists’ and that Omand’s invasion of personal privacy to hunt down these individuals is reminiscent of McCarthy’s communist witch hunts in the 1940’s and 1950’s in the US. Ok, Omand is a Brit. But at first I thought he must be American by the tone of “the state should analyse data about individuals in order to find terrorist suspects: travel information, tax, phone records, emails” in Goldacre’s post.

    Getting to your question whether it is appropriate to draw a parallel between data mining and diagnostic testing–I think it may or may not be helpful depending on what is familiar to you. Tests have risks–that is what I draw from this comparison. But it goes beyond the diagnostic comparison because if I am tested for coeliac disease, for example, am I really going to fudge the test to try and evade the diagnosis? Maybe if it were HIV testing.

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