Consumers need to realise that medical researchers could make mistakes or be biased in validating their findings when predicting diseases and medical conditions. This was the advice given by University of Johannesburg (UJ) lecturer and rated researcher Professor Alex Broadbent, at a networking session promoting his new book Philosophy of Epidemiology, which will be launched at UJ on 17 September, 2013.
“Technical methods are not enough. It is always necessary to consider ways in which you might be wrong. Then you need to explain why you are probably not wrong,” he says.
Prof Broadbent says that hunting for the causes of diseases is not the same as explaining and predicting diseases. Epidemiology is the science that studies the patterns, causes and effects of diseases, and how they’re distributed in defined human populations. Epidemiology is the cornerstone of public health and informs policy decisions and evidence-based medicine.
“Obtaining and publishing the ‘best evidence’ for a claim is not enough – epidemiologists must also assess whether the claim is stable or not,” says Prof Broadbent.