Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a medical intervention justified by observational data must be in want of verification through a randomised controlled trial. . . .

[I]ndividuals jumping from aircraft without the help of a parachute are likely to have a high prevalence of pre-existing psychiatric morbidity. Individuals who use parachutes are likely to have less psychiatric morbidity and may also differ in key demographic factors, such as income and cigarette use. It follows, therefore, that the apparent protective effect of parachutes may be merely an example of the “healthy cohort” effect. . . .

It is often said that doctors are interfering monsters obsessed with disease and power, who will not be satisfied until they control every aspect of our lives (Journal of Social Science, pick a volume). It might be argued that the pressure exerted on individuals to use parachutes is yet another example of a natural, life enhancing experience being turned into a situation of fear and dependency.


E Hines said...

Some might wonder about the practical effects of this mindset. Here's one practical effect, courtesy of Belmont Club ( ):

After an exhaustive three year study involving 21 experts, an agency of the European Union determined that drink manufacturers should be banned from claiming that water can prevent dehydration. “Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.” Critics said the decision was a perfect example of bureaucratic waste.

To which a forlorn voice of reason replies,

Conservative MEP Roger Helmer said: “This is stupidity writ large.

“The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are: highly-paid, highly-pensioned officials worrying about the obvious qualities of water and trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true.

“If ever there were an episode which demonstrates the folly of the great European project then this is it.”

Eric Hines

Grim said...

They are now saying that we can't prove that water will wet us? The voice of reason is likely to win out over time. This is the closing line from Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," which I think of more and more these days.

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

E Hines said...

as surely as Fire will burn

Off with Kipling's head! Burn his books! He can't prove that.

Sodium and acid burn, too. How dare he lay all of that off to fire....

Eric Hines

MikeD said...

The hidden danger of this article is what I interpreted to be a backhanded slap at medical professionals who demand evidence based proof that a particular treatment actually works. Yes, common sense can be applied that using a parachute is incredibly safer than not when jumping out of a plane. But one could then say that if no proof is needed for ANYTHING, then I could claim to manufacture Fall-ex, a pill that will increase your chances of surviving a "gravitational challenge". If no proof is required, then such a claim (as ridiculous as it is) would stand.

They make an absurd example to show that scientific proof and double-blind studies are not always needed, but it's still a logical fallacy. Reductio ad absurdum.

William said...

MikeD - reductio ad absurdum granted. But their point was well made. Too many folks want statistical proof for interventions that simply make sense if thought about. This should be mandatory reading for every medical resident. Those that are offended by having to read it only need look to their cohort to see why.

William sends.
(note: The point made extends well beyond the medical field.)

Texan99 said...

I'm foursquare in favor of subjecting assumptions to double-blind proof. I just thought the article was funny. There's no doubt a lot of people in academia lose their grip on common sense when they get into a publishing rut: sometimes they're just checking off boxes on a standard format. I also appreciated the nod to the "don't turn a natural process into a disease" movement.