Friday, November 17, 2006

Mistake Chains Create Common Knowledge

Medical doctors doing research don't know and don't use the best statistical techniques available

then they write abstracts that overstate their findings, which in any case were produced with low quality statistical techniques

then a journalist that doesn't know anything about medicine and statistics reads the overstated abstract

and when writing about the abstract he didn't really understand he inflates or distorts it so as to produce a great news and then

the news reader, who doesn't know medicine and statistics and is not much aware of how journalists work, vaguely reads the news and makes his or her very personal interpretation of what he has just vaguely read, usually in a too optimistic or too pessimistic way (I should never ever eat that; I should now eat that a lot; etc.)

and passes his or her personal interpretation of the inflated and distorted news to an acquaintance he or she really doesn'’t know very well

who will freely re-interpret that personal interpretation and use that free re-interpretation to support and scientifically refine his or her brilliant line of thought saying

"I am right and you are wrong because there are scientific studies that have scientifically proved this and that"...

And thus common knowledge is created and crystallized.

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