The post-modern assault on evidence-based medicine, part 3

Steve Simon


This page is currently being updated from the earlier version of my website. Sorry that it is not yet fully available.

I have volunteered to give a talk for a group of statisticians which discusses an article I am preparing: “The post-modern assault on evidence-based medicine.” I might give this talk on the first Monday in February or the first Monday in March. Here is a tentative abstract.

“Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. It is thoroughly rooted in a tradition encourages clinicians to search for and incorporate empirical data in their daily practice. A recent philosophical movement, post-modernism, is critical of the belief in universal truths and argues instead that we humans construct a view of reality based on our social, political, and historical perspectives. As such, some post-modern philosophers, writing predominantly for nursing journals, have produced sharply critical commentaries about EBM, even comparing it to fascism. In this talk, I will outline the two philosophies. The post-modern philosophers are correct when they point out the problems and limitations of empirical data, and we as statisticians would be wise to acknowledge this when we consult with our clients. I will also argue, though, that EBM is a transparent and self-correcting mechanism that is broadly democratic rather than fascist in its approach. Furthermore, EBM is not limited by our social, political, and historical perspectives, but actually can help us move beyond those limitations.”

I’m hoping to get some feedback that will help me write a better article. Previous weblog entries on this topic are

You can find an earlier version of this page on my original website.