Thursday, August 09, 2007

Addendum to the Previous Two Posts

Apparently the name of the game show where the comes from is "Let's Make A Deal", and that even professors and statisticians get it wrong. The "statistics" required to solve the problem is extremely simple, but people have a lot of trouble defining what the problem is and not making faulty assumptions, such as the two choices are independent of each other, or that the two choices are even similar.

These kinds of mistakes happen all the time in everything including the path to , which is part of the reason why it took twenty years to convince the medical community. One interesting part of the story is that they were unable to culture the bacteria, until accidentally one weekend the lab was too busy with other things to do what they had been doing with the plates, which was to throw them out after two days. After this discovery, they stopped throwing away the plates before the bacteria could grow. Ta-dah!

Not only is there the problem that medical people incorrectly conclude that inability to culture a bacteria is "proof" that it is not the cause, or doesn't exist, but apparently the efforts to culture bacteria and probably any other scientific procedure have to be questioned due to high chances of them just being done wrong without knowing.

Another thing was they were looking for corkscrew-shaped spirochetes, but the bacteria presented differently on the plates and biopsy specimens. Important things can be passed over because of assumptions.

It was also interesting that the two researchers described some elements of their background and skills which enabled them to accomplish Nobel Prize-winning work, including general training rather than specialized training, a tendency of thinking off onto what might be considered inconsequential tangents, and hobbies in engineering, photography, and drawing. The latter helped to see detail.


Lady M said...

Unrelated to this post, but I thought you might be amused:

Meg Cabot (Author of the Princess Diaries) writes a public service announcement about Lyme.

dancing dragon said...

Thanks, lady m. Meg Cabot's blog is always amusing!