Why We Do Randomized, Double-Blind Trials
From yesterday’s Business Ethics Blog: Fake Cures, Witch Doctors, and “Evidence”
What such companies and their customers need to learn about is the limits of personal testimonials. There are good reasons why drug companies are forced to do randomized, double-blind, clinical trials. To understand better, you just need to take a peek at the enormous literature on cognitive bias, which details the enormous number of ways in which first-person testimony can go awry. People have a tendency to see correlations, and even causes, where none exist. They tend to mis-estimate relevant probabilities. They tend to mis-remember key events. Reputable companies test their products in ways that minimize those effects.