Research is a rocky road

“I have some electronic equipment but really no experience or expertise in building circuits or things,” he told Guardian Australia.

“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face. A bit of boredom in isolation made me think of that.”

However, the academic realised the electronic part he had did the opposite – and would only complete a circuit when there was no magnetic field present.

“I accidentally invented a necklace that buzzes continuously unless you move your hand close to your face,” he said.

Well, trial and error, yo know.

Of course, then he carried on playing with the magnets and got them stuck up his nose.

But I do like inventing the opposite. He is from the counterweight continent after all.

13 thoughts on “Research is a rocky road”

  1. No, research is easy. Really, really easy. You just take some hydrochloroquine and some mildly-affected Covid patients, set up the study so most of the placebo group won’t bother to turn up for their tests so you can’t count their schnozz secretions as “negative”, and declare that you have conclusive proof that it cures serious cases of Covid, triggering a global drug shortage that condemns thousands of lupus patients to kidney failure.

    As supported by the consensus of eminent amateur clinical scientists on this blog.

  2. PJF,

    Not corrupt, just poorly conducted and data interpreted incorrectly. Though it is one of the oldest tricks in the book and still used by some unscrupulous people to deliberately misinform, I don’t think that’s happened here.

    It seems easy, doesn’t it. Apply treatment to one group, no treatment (or placebo, ideally) to another, and count the number of people who respond to the treatment (or lack of it), and compare between the groups. In this case, response being defined as “no virus up the schnozz”. So how many patients had “no virus up the schnozz” in each group?

    The misleading bit is that the alternative to “no virus up the schnozz” is not “virus up the schnozz”, there are two alternatives. “Virus up the schnozz” and “we don’t know”. Most of the “we don’t know” in this trial were patients not bothering to turn up for the test, and the overwhelming majority of those were, unsurprisingly, in the untreated group. So the trial, considering “no virus up the schnozz” over the full denominator, all patients, whether they were tested or not, will overestimate the treatment effect. By a lot.

  3. BlokeInTejasInNormandy


    My interpretations of the “French results” and other reports of efficacy wasn’t “oooo yay goody a cure” but “looks like there’s enough anecdata around that it’s worth checking this stuff out”

    May be as useful as vitamin c is against the flu….

  4. The problem Biggie is that lots–maybe most– medical research is of a similar order of bullshit.

    I knew a Dr –years ago now–who had been involved with tests in a London hospital of some kind of anti-oesteoporesis (sic–can’t be arsed to look it up) drug. On a ward full of women who were on their honour to stick to a calcium controlled diet supplied by the Hospital.

    Except he discovered that the silly cows were nipping out for snacks including Mars bars and bottles of milk etc.
    He tried to point this out but the test runners didn’t want to know and a paper–he told me– was eventually published in a Journal.

  5. BiTiN,

    Your interpretation is correct. It isn’t the one being pumped out at 130 decibels around the world (or in these pages).


    I’m the last person who needs to be told a lot of it is bullshit!

  6. @BiG

    Bitter that you were called out about your erroneous assertion ‘One chloroquine manufacturer in world’?

    No placebo patients, so wrong again. As pointed out it’s ‘try anything’ non-blind trials and endorsed by WHO

    No shortage either and I note you’ve changed from “treat painful arthritis” to Lupus which I drew your attention to as not FDA approved for Lupus or Arthritis

    Oh, and I see treating Liver disease now changed to treating fatal “kidney failure”. Have you noticed CV-19 can be fatal too?

    Experts tend to have a narrow focus and refuse to see wider picture, in a crisis disruptors are needed

    Assume you don’t watch/read not TL;DR links provided as might counter your beliefs

    You need to stop being so negative and Ritchie like, jeez you’re worse than Al-Beeb’s “we’re doomed”

    Be Positive, Be Nice, Don’t Be Threatening

    This might help you refocus away from Regulate, Prohibit, Ban tendency
    Let Me Tell You About Jasper

  7. No treatment, mentioned in second sentence of second paragraph of my second post. Explicitly because “No treatment” patients didn’t bother to turn up for follow up exams in high numbers. This is PRECISELY the problem with this kind of trial. Blinded placebo patients would have turned up in similar numbers to the active treatment group.

    Arthritis? Never mentioned that.

    Lupus nephritis, yes. And types of porphyria.

    Old drugs, and some newer ones, are used for tons of things they are not approved for. No one has anything to gain for putting an off patent drug through approvals. The label is merely what the manufacturers can legally claim it does, it sets no restriction on what it can be prescribed for. Many physicians will tell you they don’t ever look at product labels.

    I stand corrected on the number of mfrs. Production is not my side but it isn’t something you can just turn on and off quickly. We wouldn’t have had such prolonged ARB shortages last year if so.

  8. @BiG

    Bloke in Germany March 28, 2020 at 9:04 am


    Hydroxychloroquine is an essential treatment for some extremely nasty rheumatological and liver conditions.

    The current evidence-free craze is already causing a global shortage of the drug for patients who do actually fucking need it

    Rheumatological diseases: Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Osteoarthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Gout, Osteoporosis

    Placebo: again None used, thus none to not turn up for test. WHO supports this fast track testing – similar to UK F1 Project Pitlane rapid R&D and do response

    Non-blind trials on volunteers mostly in ICU where they or refusers couldn’t “not turn up for test”. Results suggest they recovered more quickly and fewer died

    Can’t ramp up production? USA & EU Drug Cos have already done so as posted on Sunday

    BiG is Lord Haw Haw’s child?

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