Guidelines for lower back pain?

Scott Alexander wonders why we don’t have “guideline” algorithms for more difficult-to-treat problems, in addition to depression. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet, the first steps toward establishing something like that for back pain.

That piece cites several journal articles, including lower back pain in spaaace!, but the most important one is this literature review – gated, but free.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review: The Nurture Assumption, by Judith Rich Harris.

The Nurture Assumption isn’t quite the book I expected. Amazon tells me that customers who bought it also bought The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker, and The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray, which is what I expected. Based on that, you might expect it’s a book about how human nature is influenced by genes rather than the environment, possibly with a racist chapter or two thrown in there. But Harris is less interested in the relative influences of nature and nurture than in changing how we look at the idea of “nurture.” As Steven Pinker says in the introduction, “We all take it for granted that what doesn’t come from the genes must come from the parents.” This book is about why that assumption is wrong.

Continue reading

The Dickens-Flynn model explains why my mom can’t figure out her iPad.

(In which I consider more implications of the model discussed in previous posts.)

James Flynn points out quite a few reasons to doubt that generational increases in IQ test scores really mean people are getting that much smarter. If IQ truly measures intelligence across generations and cultures, that would make our average parents notably dull and our average grandparents bordeline retarded – or, if you want to look at it the other way, most college graduates from my generation could have easily joined Mensa when it started in 1946. And – to put it bluntly – someone would have noticed if old people were that dumb.

Continue reading

Book Review: A Matter of Interpretation, by Antonin Scalia (and several other people.)

Before the Seventeenth Amendment, United States Senators were not directly chosen by voters, but rather, elected by state legislatures who were in turn directly chosen by voters. The idea was that the legislatures would choose extraordinary gentlemen of some sort, who were virtuous or wise in ways common voters wouldn’t recognize.

The Seventeenth Amendment did away with that, and now we have two relatively similar houses of congress, pretty much just for the heck of it. But with some imagination, we can pretend we still have something like the original Senate, in the Supreme Court – officials not directly elected, but nominated and approved by directly-elected officials – with law degrees from prestigious universities, which may be 21st-century America’s version of “virtuous and wise in ways common voters wouldn’t recognize.”

Continue reading