nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

For Onion Peelers

How to become an Onion Peeler

What's an Onion Peeler?  It's someone who likes to take a proposal, a result, or a conclusion, and "peel away" the layers that underlay the claim--much like the old saying about "peeling away the onion."

And sometimes, once all the onion layers have been peeled away, the results can make you cry.

I am an Onion Peeler.  When I hear the New York Times say new AIDS cases are declining (as they did recently), I want to see the numbers:  how many, when, how long, how severe, etc.  AND, I want to see the statistics:  the average, the median, the p-value, the confidence interval, the odds ratio, the standard deviation, etc.

For me, this is fun stuff.  A good part of why Nostrums exists as a blog is telling the real data behind these claims in a way that's engaging (rather than dull).  Tip:  Most media stories don't tell the story.

Here's Doc D's Super-Sized, Industrial-Strength, Simple-Minded, and Coarse-Grained Guide to Onion Peeling:

1.  Is the target population appropriate?

2.  Is the hypothesis or proposal clearly defined?

3.  Is a valid comparison being made?

4.  How much confidence is there that the results are accurate?

5.  Are the results significant?

6.  Does the conclusion or proposal match what the data say?

PS:  This doesn't deal with Study Design, of which there are several.  Each Design has different implications.  If you're interested in that, I recommend this webpage article at MedPageToday.com.  Heavy duty stuff.

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What I'm Reading - Updated 3 May