Tuesday Links

Posting today from the lovely KU Leuven campus (yes, this link points to the actual building where I’m sitting in now!).

  1. From Megan McArdle on why very invasive surgery works better than less invasive surgery:

    Patients may prefer percutaneous coronary intervention — also known as angioplasty — to a coronary bypass because it doesn’t involve cracking your chest open and grafting things onto your heart. But bypass patients seem to have better long-term outcomes, even though both methods increase blood flow to the heart muscle. […]

    A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests a possible answer: Bypass works better precisely because it’s more invasive. The very scale of the treatment makes people more likely to change their post-operative behavior in ways that enhance their long-term chances of survival

The original paper states that

We find that CABG patients are 12 percentage points more likely to quit smoking in the one-year period immediately surrounding their procedure than PCI patients, a result that is robust to numerous alternative specifications

  1. I have in the past criticized nutricional sciences, but this is excellent scientific behaviour

    In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that show the opposite.


    For a follow-up paper, 37 self-identified gluten-sensitive patients were tested […]

    The subjects cycled through high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten (placebo) diets, without knowing which diet plan they were on at any given time. In the end, all of the treatment diets — even the placebo diet — caused pain, bloating, nausea, and gas to a similar degree. It didn’t matter if the diet contained gluten.

One of the most insidious things about some of the health fads is that because of psychological effects, they do “work.”

3. Python San Sebastian will have a keynote talk & tutorial by your truly (it’s not up on the website yet, but it will be).


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