Is False Equivalency is the New Precision?
An APA dispatch
Precise treatments for imprecisely defined illness are false precision. Welcome to the story of the talk that ended up presenting data I was a PI on!
“You have to be worried that I am misrepresenting this information for cash, which is why we have disclosures at the end of every talk”
—Dan Karlin, CMO Mind Medicine
We tend not to disclose our beliefs as conflicts. We are, arguably, more likely to misrepresent reality based on our ideas on which we built our careers.
Precision is a fundamental concept for measurement. The ability to measure itself is what creates both our science and its biases.
Lithium was approved in 1970 for the treatment of Bipolar Mania, preceding the Young Mania Rating Scale. This scale was published in 1978. We still use this scale today.
As a brief aside…the initial lithiated Soda had between 50-150mg of lithium! This, dear readers, is a lot of lithium. Let’s look at something simple and objective to measure!
Weight is able to be measured multiple times a day:
This can be examined on different study dates, and you can tell a story…the first story is the weight decreased (red line):
The next story you could tell is that the opposite happened (green line):
We change the understanding by the time points on which we measured the outcome variable.
Are we fooling ourselves by ignoring context of the data in favor of the volume of the data?
There is a tension between context and continuity of data…
The more context we have (like a “60 min therapy appointment weekly” as opposed to asking how you feel 10x daily every day) the less continuity have.
Big Data requires Big Context.
And as we work to turn data into knowledge, we perhaps should be consider the tension built in.
More data needs more context to become more knowledge…what do we know about what we observe?