Future Tech General Health Care Politics

Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation

Woman cleaning teeth with floss

From The New York Times: Responding to This:

And dentists know from a range of evidence, including clinical experience, that interdental cleaning is critical to oral health and that flossing, properly done, works. Yet the notion has taken hold that such expertise is fatally subjective and that only randomized controlled trials provide real knowledge.

Source: Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation – The New York Times

The Times makes the same argument as me. So called “Evidence Based” medicine sounds right, in fact it sounds obvious. Who could possibly be against using sound science to determine proper medical / dental care? The problem is whose evidence?

The article points out that random trials and clinical experience are both valid. They are both evidence. We have come to fetishize the double blind trial as the “gold standard” and anything else is considered of lesser validity. However that is not necessarily true. In some perhaps many cases clinical experience is more valid than trials. The flossing issue is presented as a prime example.

Of course clinical experience or “expert opinion” is also subject to error. ┬áCommon knowledge and everyone knows results in the cognitive error of group think.

Both scientific inquiry and expert experience are needed. Do not fall prey to the sensational counter intuitive finding or allow third parties to dictate treatment based on selective “science”.

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