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aelephant comments on Living Forever is Hard, or, The Gompertz Curve - Less Wrong

46 Post author: gwern 17 May 2011 09:08PM

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Comment author: aelephant 23 March 2012 06:04:25AM *  0 points [-]

Well, at least in the drug world it is more convincing if you have a rational mechanism by which a drug could cause some effect.

A plausible alternative hypothesis is that children who get sick sometimes are developing Reye's syndrome and take Aspirin. The problem with epidemiological studies is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to control for other variables. This is why randomized controlled trials are essential and give you a kind of information epidemiological studies never can.

My point is not that Aspirin doesn't cause Reye's syndrome, but that it is impossible to say one way or the other. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. The data is unavailable and likely never will be. So if you are an honest person who values the truth, you can't say that it does.