Saturday, July 28, 2007

Anecdote on the pitfalls in research

I havent been posting a lot for the last weeks. I am a bit out of good ideas or the drive to start new ideas! :-)

Here is an anecdote that shows the dangers of accepting every piece of research. I have a excercise bike at home, and it didnt work properly. Sometimes it would just go off, and come back on later. I called the shop and they gave and of course the bike worked!! After they left, it stopped working again! Then it didnt work anymore. I suspected that the bike was fine but that the electric cable had a loose contact that sometimes still worked. So I took the cable to an electronics shop, and asked them to check it. And it worked, so I concluded that it must be the bike. And then it was just standing there for months, as I was just too lazy and stingy to call the shop again. Yesterday, I told my neighbour about my bike, as he is DIY expert in electronics. And it turned out that the cable indeed had a loose contact!!!! We changed the plug and it works perfectly now!!

So what's the lesson? ALWAYS BE SUSPICIOUS OF RESEARCH THAT MIGHT IMPACT YOUR THEORY, AND WAIT FOR 2-3 INDEPENDENT CONFIRMATION. In this case, the third check showed that the cable was a loose contact. I guess the issue was also that it was not always loose but sometimes worked.

Maybe people who stutter have a loose contact that works better at some times than others. And we are misled by some experimental results.

4 comments:

WILLME said...

Your comment: "I havent been posting a lot for the last weeks. I am a bit out of good ideas or the drive to start new ideas!"

So why not try to elicit responses from this blog's readership re experiences with the use of (prescription) drugs on their fluency levels? Stuttering is possibly a neurochemically heterogeneous disorder (e.g., dopamine imbalance-too much or too little-and perhaps other neurochemical imbalances). In addtion, it may be a pharmacological-result heterogeneous disorder (much like depression whereby individuals respond differently to different serotonin uptake inhibitors even though there may be a single cause). With this much potential heterogeneity, it may be an almost impossible task to statistically tease "true results" from the placebo results. So we may have to rely on anecdotal evidence from the disfuent community. Amd let's not worry too much about placebo effects--if anything provides relief, placebo or not, it is good.

Robert said...

I've always found it difficult to explain to doctors that the medicines they want to prescribe increase my stuttering. This one doctor wanted me to take 10 mg of crester per day. It drastically increase my stuttering and I could only take a quarter of the pill. Even so it still affects my stuttering. Strangely enough a quarter of a 10 mg crester dropped my cholesterol to a healthy 150. The doctor looked at me, and shook his head and said that he thought I was psyching myself out.

I know that there are mysterious clues in all the things that increase my stuttering. Why would protein power, antihistamine, caffeine, motrin, and many others substances lock up my vocal cords? If stuttering was just a learned habit it would not have this component.

willme said...

To Robert: It is hard to understand why crestar would increase your disfluency since it is focused on cholestorol and is not a psychotropic medication. I wonder what would happen if your doctor gave you a placebo and told you that it was crestar?
On the other hand, caffeine and antihistamine do have effects on brain chemistry. I guess the objective would be to find a medication that affects your fluency in a positive way.

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