The Atlantic, “methodolatry,” and pandemic swine flu

I’d like to thank revere right now publicly. He’s taught me a new word:

Methodolatry: The profane worship of the randomized clinical trial as the only valid method of investigation.

Many of my readers have e-mailed me about a recent article in The Atlantic by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, two reporters whose particular bias is that we as a nation are “over treated.” That may be true, although not to the extent that Brownlee, at least, seems to think, and her article on swine flu was truly execrable. Moreover, “methodalatry” perfectly describes one of my complaints about the “evidence-based medicine” paradigm. So I’m really glad that revere took it on and demolished it.

I had actually planned on blogging about this article. However, it’s a long article, with many, many shortcomings. The whole Suzanne Somers thing seemed to take on a life of its own and crowd out my chance at blogging the Brownlee article. I may have to rectify that situation for Monday. revere covered a lot, but he didn’t cover one aspect of the article that bothered me even more in as much detail as I want to. On the other hand, he made my task easier by covering a lot of the issues of vaccine efficacy. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you might also want to read Mark Crislip’s article on flu vaccine efficacy, which, although not directly written in response to Brownlee’s article, does address many of the shortcomings in its analysis of H1N1 vaccine efficacy.