IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags fallacies , scientific evidence

Reply
Old 26th March 2021, 03:46 AM   #1
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
The hierarchy-of-scientific-evidence fallacy

It probably goes by another name, but I saw an article about this recently, but I didn't jot down the link, and now I can't find it.
The context is Sweden's pandemic strategy and how the authorities refused to acknowledge the efficacy of face masks, arguing that no study lived up to their high standards - with reference to the hierarchy of scientific evidence.

Do any of you know the article I'm looking for? Or something similar?
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 04:44 AM   #2
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 29,621
I don't know, but this one in the Conversation talks about how it is a muddled risk communication:

https://theconversation.com/covid-wh...g-masks-153681
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 05:06 AM   #3
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Thanks. Not bad, but not the one I was thinking of, which wasn't specifically about Sweden.
If the hierarchy-of-scientific-evidence fallacy doesn't exist as an actual fallacy yet, I guess I will have to write the article.
It's the attempt to dismiss weak evidence by pretending that weak evidence isn't evidence at all by means of references to the hierarchy of scientific evidence and without any actual specific objections to the studies, which was the way that the Swedish Public Health Agency has dismissed all evidence of the efficacy of face masks until now.

You see the same fallacy in this forum all the time. Sometimes it's valid, for instance, to refuse to believe anecdotal evidence, but sometimes it's just pigheadedness.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 26th March 2021 at 05:14 AM.
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 05:38 AM   #4
Norman Alexander
Philosopher
 
Norman Alexander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Gundungurra
Posts: 9,193
Is that the fallacy that if something is not 100% efficacious then it is the same as being zero efficacious? All or nothing?
__________________
...our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornetsí nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Frankie Boyle, Guardian, July 2015
Norman Alexander is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 05:57 AM   #5
Steve
Philosopher
 
Steve's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sydney Nova Scotia
Posts: 8,709
Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
Is that the fallacy that if something is not 100% efficacious then it is the same as being zero efficacious? All or nothing?
If that was actually Sweden's position on masks (I don't know, this is just a hypothetical) then they should be rejecting vaccines (and by extension, most modern medicine) for the same reason.
__________________
Caption from and old New Yorker cartoon - Why am I shouting? Because I'm wrong!"
Steve is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 06:18 AM   #6
Norman Alexander
Philosopher
 
Norman Alexander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Gundungurra
Posts: 9,193
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
If that was actually Sweden's position on masks (I don't know, this is just a hypothetical) then they should be rejecting vaccines (and by extension, most modern medicine) for the same reason.
I suspect their initial response was based on the potentially valid Law of Unintended Consequences, which is a corollary of the 100%/0% fallacy. Where because there is a possibility some corrective action may unexpectedly generates bigger and more serious problems and the nett outcome is worse, this prevents taking corrective action. Aka, the fear of getting it even a little bit wrong, i.e. not 100% efficacious.

The Swedes initially considered that the benefits of continuing a "normal working society and economy" outweighed any possible negative effects of social distancing and masking. They were betting that COVID was going to be less severe than they reckoned. They got that wrong. And in doing so, proved that even a partially effective solution that has drawbacks is still a LOT better than no solution at all.
__________________
...our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornetsí nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Frankie Boyle, Guardian, July 2015
Norman Alexander is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 06:27 AM   #7
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 29,621
It sounds a bit like the Nirvana Fallacy. If it aint perfect it's useless.

But presumably the Nirvana Fallacy is being used selectively as I doubt anyone involved in healthcare would usually make such claims about other medical interventions.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 07:19 AM   #8
lomiller
Penultimate Amazing
 
lomiller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 11,496
I'm not really sure what the OP is asking. Yes there are differences in how compelling various papers and studies are. As a general rules, the higher the impact factor of the journal and the more citations (other than citations looking to refute the study) the better. An even better measure is whether the authors peers accept the study or not, sometimes citations can make a good proxy for this. The peers themselves are simply reading it and making up their own mind, but relatively few people are actually qualified to do this when it comes to cutting edge science.

An argument form I commonly see wrt evidence and one that may be occurring here:
Person believes X but has no evidence to support it
Evidence is presented that supports Y (instead of X)
The Person who believes X attacks the evidence for Y and insists it doesn't prove Y
The person either implicitly or explicitly suggests that since Y "isn't proved yet" that people should accept X as the right answer even though no evidence has been presented for it at all.

There are 2 things going on here. First, the person in question is guilty of presenting a false dilemma. Even if there are valid criticism of the study it doesn't necessarily mean it can be disregarded in its entirety. Imperfect evidence can still be evidence, and in fact ALL scientific evidence is imperfect to some degree. Pointing out such imperfections does not necessitate ignoring the evidence altogether.

Second the person in making either an explicit or implicit appeal to ignorance. They are arguing that since we don't know Y is true than we should accept X instead (even though there is no evidence for X). Often people will try to avoid explicitly saying they are arguing in favor of X, but it's frequently still obvious that is what they are doing, which I think may be the case here.
__________________
"Anything's possible, but only a few things actually happen"
lomiller is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th March 2021, 07:28 AM   #9
Mojo
Mostly harmless
 
Mojo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Nor Flanden
Posts: 33,893
Originally Posted by dann View Post
It probably goes by another name, but I saw an article about this recently, but I didn't jot down the link, and now I can't find it.
The context is Sweden's pandemic strategy and how the authorities refused to acknowledge the efficacy of face masks, arguing that no study lived up to their high standards - with reference to the hierarchy of scientific evidence.

Do any of you know the article I'm looking for? Or something similar?

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

ETA: see also Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial

Quote:
Parachute use did not reduce death or major traumatic injury when jumping from aircraft in the first randomized evaluation of this intervention. However, the trial was only able to enroll participants on small stationary aircraft on the ground, suggesting cautious extrapolation to high altitude jumps.
__________________
"You got to use your brain." - McKinley Morganfield

"The poor mystic homeopaths feel like petted house-cats thrown at high flood on the breaking ice." - Leon Trotsky

Last edited by Mojo; 26th March 2021 at 07:32 AM. Reason: Later RCT added
Mojo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 02:18 AM   #10
Oystein
Penultimate Amazing
 
Oystein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 17,034
Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
LMAO

Love this reference::
Quote:
The medicalisation of free fall

It is often said that doctors are interfering monsters obsessed with disease and power, who will not be satisfied until they control every aspect of our lives (Journal of Social Science, pick a volume).
And this section header:
Quote:
A call to (broken) arms
__________________
Thermodynamics hates conspiracy theorists. (Foster Zygote)
Oystein is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 02:47 AM   #11
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 29,621
So true, for some people they require citations from the Journal of Stating the Bleeding Obvious!
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 06:07 AM   #12
Norman Alexander
Philosopher
 
Norman Alexander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Gundungurra
Posts: 9,193
Originally Posted by Mojo View Post


I liked the Notes:
Quote:
Contributors: GCSS had the original idea. JPP tried to talk him out of it. JPP did the first literature search but GCSS lost it. GCSS drafted the manuscript but JPP deleted all the best jokes. GCSS is the guarantor, and JPP says it serves him right.
__________________
...our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornetsí nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Frankie Boyle, Guardian, July 2015
Norman Alexander is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 06:09 AM   #13
Norman Alexander
Philosopher
 
Norman Alexander's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Gundungurra
Posts: 9,193
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
It sounds a bit like the Nirvana Fallacy. If it aint perfect it's useless.

But presumably the Nirvana Fallacy is being used selectively as I doubt anyone involved in healthcare would usually make such claims about other medical interventions.
Yes, I think that is the one.
__________________
...our governments are just trying to protect us from terror. In the same way that someone banging a hornetsí nest with a stick is trying to protect us from hornets. Frankie Boyle, Guardian, July 2015
Norman Alexander is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 08:34 AM   #14
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
If that was actually Sweden's position on masks (I don't know, this is just a hypothetical) then they should be rejecting vaccines (and by extension, most modern medicine) for the same reason.
Well, they do make randomized double-blinded studies on vaccines. Placebo face masks on the other hand ...

Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has insisted from the very beginning that face masks are worse than useless: They are dangerous, 1) because people don't know how to use them and will get their squeaky-clean hands smeared with mucus all the time, 2) will will stop social distancing because face masks make them believe that they no longer have to, and 3) face masks alone won't stop the spread of the virus - which nobody has claimed, obviously, but still ...
Ever since, he has jealously defended his recommendations against what he considers to be hostile attacks from face-mask advocates.

And the one thing that makes some people believe that this has something to do with science is that he always refers to the lack of studies that live up to his high expectations. I haven't seen him refer to any [i][url=https://libguides.nvcc.edu/c.php?g=361218&p=2439383]hierarchy of scientific evidence, but many of his fans do when they try to appear to be defenders of science against the barbarian onslaught. An awful lot of Swedish (alleged) skeptics belong to this group.

You won't be surprised to hear that claims about the dangers of face masks don't require any scientific evidence at all. All that is required is repeating the message on TV again and again, and a surprisingly large number of medical doctors and researchers have been willing to do so. One of them was voted Woman of the Year, others were awarded as science communicators.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 08:37 AM   #15
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Originally Posted by Mojo View Post

I've seen that one before but had forgotten all about it. Yes, that will come in handy.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 04:05 PM   #16
DevilsAdvocate
Philosopher
 
DevilsAdvocate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,629
Perhaps this? The Levels of Evidence and their role in Evidence-Based Medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3124652/
__________________
I don't need to fight to prove I'm right. - Baba O'Riley
DevilsAdvocate is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 08:25 PM   #17
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Yokohama, Japan
Posts: 25,908
Originally Posted by dann View Post
It probably goes by another name, but I saw an article about this recently, but I didn't jot down the link, and now I can't find it.
The context is Sweden's pandemic strategy and how the authorities refused to acknowledge the efficacy of face masks, arguing that no study lived up to their high standards - with reference to the hierarchy of scientific evidence.

Do any of you know the article I'm looking for? Or something similar?
There's a saying, and it probably doesn't count as a fallacy, but I think it applies to this type of thinking:

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
Masks are good, but they aren't perfect. An imperfect solution is better than no solution at all. And even if you're not 100% certain, 90% certainty is enough reason to act.

If you wait too long for perfect knowledge, you may fail to act in a timely manner. It's OK to make an educated guess, even if you don't have absolute proof.

For many years, the tobacco industry tried to argue that the scientific evidence for the health risks of smoking wasn't good enough to prove a causal link. Because "correlation is not causation".
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th March 2021, 11:39 PM   #18
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
Perhaps this? The Levels of Evidence and their role in Evidence-Based Medicine.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3124652/

Yes, that's a good one. Thanks.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th March 2021, 01:42 AM   #19
DevilsAdvocate
Philosopher
 
DevilsAdvocate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,629
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
There's a saying, and it probably doesn't count as a fallacy, but I think it applies to this type of thinking:

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
Masks are good, but they aren't perfect. An imperfect solution is better than no solution at all. And even if you're not 100% certain, 90% certainty is enough reason to act.

If you wait too long for perfect knowledge, you may fail to act in a timely manner. It's OK to make an educated guess, even if you don't have absolute proof.

For many years, the tobacco industry tried to argue that the scientific evidence for the health risks of smoking wasn't good enough to prove a causal link. Because "correlation is not causation".
The concept of hierarchy of evidence is much more complex than an all-or-nothing system. It is rather complex. It is also rather recent, dating back only to 1995.

While I know hardly anything about it, it seems that a significant problem was that the concept arose in the mid 1990s when "post-modernism" was rampant in academics, which usually meant writing using convoluted and obscure terminology to prove intellect and knowledge of some shrouded understanding achievable only by those with exclusive academic understanding.

Academics has moved past that, but much of the "hierarchy of evidence" paper seem to be mired in that mode.

Nevertheless, the concept of "hierarchy of evidence" is a valiant attempt, primarily in medicine, to categorize the usefulness of different scientific studies and data.

The problem is that it is hard. Without a hierarchy, people are just randomly making up how they evaluate things as they go along. With a hierarchy there are guidelines, but if strictly followed often defy practicality.

This is philosophical question. But it has largely been built by medical doctors rather than philosophers. This has resulted in dozens of proposed hierarchies, each with their own problems. Philosophers really should take on this issue because it is an important philosophical issue.
__________________
I don't need to fight to prove I'm right. - Baba O'Riley
DevilsAdvocate is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th March 2021, 12:18 PM   #20
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
I personally think that philosophers should stay the hell away from science. I don't think they contribute with anything useful to science.

It seems to me that medicine only started to turn into an actual science in the late 20th century. Doctors could fix broken legs, many vaccines had already been invented, and there were antibiotics, of course, but some of the theories you heard doctors come up with were moronic. (They haven't been entirely eliminated, but I think they are much rarer than in the mid-1900s among actual medical doctors.)

The science of nutrition was also extremely primitive. I remember one week in the 1960s when my mother declared that from now on we wouldn't have potatoes anymore because some idiot had claimed that they caused gastric cancer - based on nothing more than the observation that there were more cases in Denmark than in Japan where they don't (or at least didn't) eat potatoes much. Fortunately, my mother's whims didn't last long.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th March 2021, 12:34 PM   #21
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
It sounds a bit like the Nirvana Fallacy. If it aint perfect it's useless.

But presumably the Nirvana Fallacy is being used selectively as I doubt anyone involved in healthcare would usually make such claims about other medical interventions.

Yes, I think it is a variation of the Nirvana fallacy. It goes more or less like this but never explicitly so: 'Studies of face masks are no good unless you have two groups of people picked at random, one group with and the other without face masks, place them in a room and blow SARS-CoV-2 aerosols at them to see how many in each group get infected.'

Sweden would actually have been the ideal place to conduct the kind of test that the anti-maskers require. Since their schools have been open most of the time, they could have had classes (or whole schools) with and without face masks, which would at least have protected some of the students. As it is, schools have forbidden students to wear face masks. It seems to go against the Swedish concept of human rights to expose people to mask wearers or something.

But even with studies like this, they would probably argue that the face-mask studies should have been double-blinded ...
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th March 2021, 03:06 PM   #22
Hlafordlaes
Disorder of Kilopi
 
Hlafordlaes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Flux
Posts: 14,978
Originally Posted by dann View Post
I personally think that philosophers should stay the hell away from science. I don't think they contribute with anything useful to science.
Philosophers of science, such as Popper, might disagree. I believe that is what the prior poster was thinking of. Hadn't heard of this hierarchy, but having taken a look, it is clearly all about moving from loose possibility to near probability, just with identification of methods relating to medicine that may best correlate with that sort of scale.

As for Sweden and masks, mistakes happen, and valid research aborted, whenever 'certainty' is taken as only standard.
__________________
Driftwood on an empty shore of the sea of meaninglessness. Irrelevant, weightless, inconsequential moment of existential hubris on the fast track to oblivion.
His real name is Count Douchenozzle von Stenchfahrter und Lichtendicks. - shemp
Hlafordlaes is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th March 2021, 04:12 PM   #23
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 29,621
Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes, I think it is a variation of the Nirvana fallacy. It goes more or less like this but never explicitly so: 'Studies of face masks are no good unless you have two groups of people picked at random, one group with and the other without face masks, place them in a room and blow SARS-CoV-2 aerosols at them to see how many in each group get infected.'

Sweden would actually have been the ideal place to conduct the kind of test that the anti-maskers require. Since their schools have been open most of the time, they could have had classes (or whole schools) with and without face masks, which would at least have protected some of the students. As it is, schools have forbidden students to wear face masks. It seems to go against the Swedish concept of human rights to expose people to mask wearers or something.

But even with studies like this, they would probably argue that the face-mask studies should have been double-blinded ...
Yeah, it gets to the point where they would deny that smoking causes lung cancer and insist you need to put smokers and non-smokers in an enclosed room together and notice, "Oh look, it seems non-smokers get lung cancer at high rates too after 20 years of being in exactly the same environment."

Of course, the proposed mechanism of mask-wearing is that the environment itself is made safer for people in that environment because of mask wearing. This is something that anti-maskers seem to not understand or refuse to acknowledge.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 29th March 2021, 07:43 AM   #24
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
I think that "refuse to acknowledge" is the point. That is one of the reasons why the Danish study of face masks wasn't very interesting: It had people move about in an environment (Denmark) where face masks weren't mandatory anywhere at the time and therefore rarely used.
Quote:
the study didnít look at whether mask-wearing protects others by stopping wearers from exhaling the virus.

Another reason was that it took place in spring when the spread of the virus was very low and people didn't run a high risk of getting infected. And very few of the test subjects did get infected, which made the number of infected people in both groups, masked and maskless, too low to be significant:
Quote:
A Danish study found the Covid-19 infection rate was lower among mask-wearers than non-mask wearers but not significantly so.
Danish study on mask efficacy only tells us half the story (FullFact, Nov. 24, 2020)

The anti-maskers were thrilled about the insignificant difference between mask wearers and maskless in the study, and ignored that the number showed a (still insignificant) difference to the mask wearers' advantage.
One article claimed that the Danish study "does not significantly reduce the rates of [Covid-19] infection,Ē but it didn't show that at all.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 29th March 2021, 01:26 PM   #25
Venom
Illuminator
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 4,974
People always ignore the public policy aspect of scientific work. Especially "science enthusiast" douchebags who just read a lot.

It's almost never going to demand the rigor of scientific problems worked on paper or in the lab. We're dealing with populations of people.
Venom is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 30th March 2021, 01:07 PM   #26
blutoski
Penultimate Amazing
 
blutoski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,382
Originally Posted by dann View Post
It probably goes by another name, but I saw an article about this recently, but I didn't jot down the link, and now I can't find it.
The context is Sweden's pandemic strategy and how the authorities refused to acknowledge the efficacy of face masks, arguing that no study lived up to their high standards - with reference to the hierarchy of scientific evidence.

Do any of you know the article I'm looking for? Or something similar?
I'm not sure what you're asking, but there *is* a hierarchy for medical evidence, it's not a fallacy.

Dr Hall - aka Skepdoc - discusses it in one of her editorials: [Evidence: “It Worked for My Aunt Tillie” Is Not Enough]

Sweden may not have undertaken a fallacy so much as just misunderstood or misrepresented the terminology, or not communicated that the evidence level they're demanding is higher on the hierarchy than what has been produced by the studies so far.

The hierarchy is not binary, it's a continuum, and nations can weigh their level of confidence in facts against their importance in order to make policy.
__________________
"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness." - Terry Pratchett

Last edited by blutoski; 30th March 2021 at 01:09 PM.
blutoski is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 31st March 2021, 07:43 AM   #27
dann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,936
Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I'm not sure what you're asking, but there *is* a hierarchy for medical evidence, it's not a fallacy.

Dr Hall - aka Skepdoc - discusses it in one of her editorials: [Evidence: “It Worked for My Aunt Tillie” Is Not Enough]

Sweden may not have undertaken a fallacy so much as just misunderstood or misrepresented the terminology, or not communicated that the evidence level they're demanding is higher on the hierarchy than what has been produced by the studies so far.

The hierarchy is not binary, it's a continuum, and nations can weigh their level of confidence in facts against their importance in order to make policy.

No, the hierarchy of scientific evidence or the hierarchy of evidence-based medicine is not a fallacy. It depends on the way it is used.
I also don't think that the epidemiologists in charge in Sweden have misunderstood the terminology, and they have actually "communicated that the evidence level they're demanding is higher on the hierarchy than what has been produced by the studies so far," but they have done so in order to dismiss all studies on face masks because they don't live up to their (allegedly) high standards. However, at the same time they have made absurd claims about face masks that were not backed up by any evidence at all:

Face masks are not only useless, they are actually dangerous because
1) People don't know how to use them so they ruin the measures recommended by the Swedish strategy: Wash your fingers all the time! Face masks contaminate your fingers and that is the way that the virus spreads in Sweden.
2) Face masks also make people give up on social distancing, which according to the Swedish authorities in charge is much more important according than to avoid filling up indoor settings with people because the virus is not considered to be airborne in Sweden!
3) Face masks also get wet and stop working in Sweden, which again goes against the knowledge about them in the rest of the world. (Not that they don't get wet, but that they stop working if they get wet.)

So I am not arguing against a hierarchy of scientific evidence. I am arguing against the way it is being used in Sweden. It's a little like the argument-from-authority fallacy. If it's an argument about the pandemic, it really depends on the authority you are referring to: Is it Trump or Fauci?

For the time being, we should introduce an addition: The argument-from-Swedish-authority fallacy. When I say for the time being, it is because many Swedish authorities are actually very knowledgeable and keep up with new International studies, but unfortunately they are not the ones in charge of the Swedish strategy. On the contrary, they have become pariahs for speaking out against it.

Sweden is as if the pandemic response in the USA were still run by Trump, Scott Atlas and the Demon Sperm Lady, except that the false authorities in Sweden still pretend to base their recommendations on actual scientific evidence, which has fooled an awful lot of (in particular) patriotic Swedes, including many who consider themselves to be skeptics.
__________________
/dann
"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

Last edited by dann; 31st March 2021 at 07:48 AM.
dann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:51 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.