Evidence-Based or Person-Centered? An Ontological Debate

puzzle-of-cancer_scientific-americanIn a recent paper published in European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare, I argue that the choice between EBM and person centered healthcare is a choice between conflicting ontologies, involving two very different notions of causation. While the methodology and practice of EBM seems perfectly supported by positivism and a Humean theory of causation, person centered healthcare does not. There is, however, a trend called the EBM Renaissance Movement, attempting to make EBM more person centered. In the CauseHealth project, we urge that person centered healthcare and practice requires a very different ontology and methodology from the positivist scientific ideal inspired by David Hume. Continue reading

Emergence and demergence

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In the beginning of March, Stephen Mumford presented our paper ‘Emergence and Demergence’ at the Causal Powers and Social Science Conference 2016 at Yale University, organised by Philip Gorski (Yale) and Ruth Groff (St. Louis). Since the paper has already provoked a discussion, we thought it best to publish the presentation here. These ideas are still in its early stages and will be developed in more detail in an article. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback. Continue reading

PhD course at NMBU on Causation in Science

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30 May – 10 June 2016, NMBU, limited spaces

Some of the chief goals of science are understanding, explanation, prediction and application in new technologies. Only if the world has some significant degree of constancy in what follows from what can these scientific activities be conducted with any purpose. But what is the source of such predictability and how does it operate? In many ways, this is a question that goes beyond science itself – beyond the data – and inevitably requires a philosophical approach. This course starts from the perspective that causation is the main foundation upon which science is based. Continue reading

Causal or Accidental Correlation – A Challenge for Science

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In a Philosophy Bites episode, John Worrall is interviewed about how trustworthy the experiments on which evidence-based medicine rests. Specifically, he discusses how suitable randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are for establishing causation. Continue reading

How safe is a condom?

UntitledOn Friends, Rachel becomes pregnant with Ross in spite of using a condom. It comes as a shock to all when they hear that condoms are only 97 percent effective. Or, as Rachel puts it, condoms only work 97 percent of the time. But what does this really mean? Continue reading

When a cause cannot be found

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There is a philosophical problem within medicine: how to deal with causal complexity and variations. While existing methods are designed for large scale population data and sufficiently homogenous sub-groups, a number of medical conditions are characterised by their heterogenic and complex nature: low back pain (LBP), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), tension-type headache (TTH), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many others. Continue reading

The causal value of Big Data. Two views on causation

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Not everything should be approached quantitatively. Is causation perhaps one of them?

Scientific research relies on data, and preferably lots of it. Population studies and statistical models are used to find and establish causal knowledge. The idea is that the more data we have, the better justification we have for our causal hypotheses. Continue reading