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Logical Fallacies in Medical Reporting eg 'Correlation is not Causation': “Sleeping Pills Increase Risk of Dementia”

re: The Epoch Times
re: correlation is not causation

I’ve decided to ride my bicycle and drive my car while naked from now on, because 99.9999% of car+bike accidents involve people wearing clothes.

Dilbert Reborn, 2023-04-19

...

The claim below might be true. But it would be hard to prove and take a decade or longer.

MUCH more likely is that poor sleep increases the risk of dementia. And those with poor sleep use sleeping pills excessively.

Anyone engaging in obvious logical fallacies this stupidly should stop embarrassing themselves in public—correlation is not causation. Or start riding your bicycle and driving your car naked.

Sleeping Pills Increase the Risk of Dementia, 4 Tips to Treat Insomnia Naturally

2023-03-14. Emphasis added.

...The study followed approximately 3,000 older whites and blacks without dementia for an average of nine years. It found that white participants who used sleeping pills regularly had a 79 percent increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who rarely used them.

...However, prolonged reliance on sleeping pills can increase the risk of dementia...
[WIND: nonsense; correlation is causation]

...

WIND: from the original study, the appropriate conclusion is made amounting to “why does this occur”, that is, it is conjures up a hypothesis worth studying—nothing more. The implication being “fund us”, which is what you read 99.9% of the time—that’s the game.

Conclusion: Frequent sleep medication use was associated with an increased risk of dementia in White older adults. Further research is needed to determine underlying mechanisms.

This kind of nitwit-grade reporting is everywhere now. It’s ideal for pushing an agenda or sales pitch to the gullible public.

I’m becoming reluctant to cite articles on health by The Epoch Times any more, because the intellectual capability of its medical writers has plunged. I don’t need the extra work of having to explain the stupid and unjustified claims, or my brand contaminated with this kind of bunk.

Anon MD writes:

Emphasis added.

I loved your “correlation is not causation” article. This has been a pet peeve of mine for decades and I think arises from the general lack of critical thinking ability in our society, the desire by news media for a quick clickbait article to draw readers in, and the push within academia to publish (even crap or made-up stuff) or perish. Generally, most of these articles end with a call for more research, presumably to be paid for by the public, or at least someone other than the author.

The issue really is that causation is binary. Something either DOES or DOES NOT cause something. But the latter is not exciting, so if you don’t have unequivocal proof of the former you have to say it MAY cause something, which is a pretty useless statement, but it does draw the feckless morons in. And you can see how this feeds into the general media’s need to attract readership. First you take an asinine statement like “sleeping pills may cause dementia” and then you append “BREAKING NEWS!” and put it as your lead story. At that point the uncritical thinkers who can’t tell BS from click bait will embrace it as true and the statement gets a life of its own, until the next garbage correlation story hits.

I can’t tell you how many times in my long career I’ve read about coffee doing “something” (insert random causation word here: infertility, increased sex drive, impotence, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemorrhoids, toenail fungus, breast enlargement, penis shrinkage, loss of IQ, increased IQ, leukemia, miraculous cancer cure, etc.). Anyone with the brains that God gave a goose would look at this nonsense after awhile and just ignore it.

And then of course, there is the reverse correlation. Maybe one of the first signs of dementia is increased insomnia, leading to an increased use of sleeping pills. Maybe. To the jackasses out there who publish garbage like this, I say “Get a life and do something useful.” To those who abet this crap by believing in it, I say “Save your energy and just go click on that article about the foods you should avoid to prevent toenail fungus.” The utility of the information gained is about equal but you will have cut the amount of useless crap you read in half, which by any measure is a good thing.

As for me, I plan to go fly fishing with my 9 ft carbon fiber fly rod in an aluminum rowboat on June Lake during a lightning storm wearing nothing but a chain mail thong because my research has shown conclusively that this combination of activities has never in the history of the world resulted in a lighting strike there. And of course this activity must also prevent toenail fungus because I don’t have any. Even a moron should be able to see this. Q.E.D.

WIND: I really enjoy this stuff. There ought to be podcast for it!

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