Time for some fun!
In alternative medicine, there often seems to be an uneasy uncertainty about research methodology. This is, of course, regrettable, as it can (and often does) lead to misunderstandings. I feel that I have some responsibility to educate research-naïve practitioners. I hope this little dictionary of research terminology turns out to be a valuable contribution in this respect.
Abstract: a concise summary of what you wanted to do skilfully hiding what you managed to do.
Acute: an exceptionally good-looking nurse.
Adverse reaction: a side effect of a therapy that I do not practise.
Anecdotal evidence: the type of evidence that charlatans prefer.
Audit: misspelled name of German car manufacturer.
Avogadro’s number: telephone number of an Italian friend.
Basic research: investigations which are too simplistic to bother with.
Best evidence synthesis: a review of those cases where my therapy worked extraordinarily well.
Bias: prejudice against my therapy held by opponents.
Bioavailability: number of health food shops in the region.
Bogus: a term Simon Singh tried to highjack, but chiropractors sued and thus got the right use it for characterising their trade.
Chiropractic manipulation: a method of discretely adjusting data so that they yield positive results.
Confidence interval: the time between reading a paper and realising that it is rubbish.
Confounder: founder of a firm selling bogus treatments.
Conflict of interest: bribery by ‘Big Pharma’.
Data manipulation: main aim of chiropractic.
Declaration of Helsinki: a statement by the Finnish Society for Homeopathy in favour of treating Ebola with homeopathy.
Dose response: weird concept of pharmacologists which has been disproven by homeopathy.
Controlled clinical trial: a study where I am in control of the data and can prettify them, if necessary.
Critical appraisal: an assessment of my work by people fellow charlatans.
Doctor: title mostly used by chiropractors and naturopaths.
EBM: eminence-based medicine.
Error: a thing done by my opponents.
Ethics: misspelled name of an English county North of London.
Evidence: the stuff one can select from Medline when one needs a positive result in a hurry.
Evidence-based medicine: the health care based on the above.
Exclusion criteria: term used to characterise material that is not to my liking and must therefore be omitted.
Exploratory analysis: valuable approach of re-analysing negative results until a positive finding pops up.
Focus group: useful method for obtaining any desired outcome.
Forest plot: a piece of land with lots of trees.
Funnel plot: an intrigue initiated by Prof Funnel to discredit homeopathy.
Good clinical practice: the stuff I do in my clinical routine.
Grey literature: print-outs of articles from a faulty printer.
Hawthorne effect: the effects of Crataegus on cardiovascular function.
Hierarchy of evidence: a pyramid with my opinion on top.
Homeopathic delusion: method of manufacturing a homeopathic remedy.
Informed consent: agreement of patients to pay my fee.
Intention to treat analysis: a method of calculating data in such a way that they demonstrate what I intended to show.
Logic: my way of thinking.
Mean: attitude of chiropractors to anyone suggesting their manipulations are not a panacea.
Metastasis: lack of progress with a meta-analysis.
Numbers needed to treat: amount of patients I require to make a good living.
Odds ratio: number of lunatics in my professional organisation divided by the number of people who seem normal.
Observational study: results from a few patients who did exceptionally well on my therapy.
Pathogenesis: a rock group who have fallen ill.
Peer review: assessment of my work by several very close friends of mine.
Pharmacodynamics: the way ‘Big Pharma’ is trying to supress my findings.
Pilot study: a trial that went so terribly wrong that it became unpublishable – but, in the end, we still got it in an alt med journal.
Placebo-effect: a most useful phenomenon that makes patients who receive my therapy feel better.
Pragmatic trial: a study that is designed to generate the result I want
Silicon Valley: region in US where most stupid fraudsters are said to come from.
Standard deviation: a term describing the fact that deviation from the study protocol is normal.
Statistics: a range of methods which are applied to the data until they eventually yield a significant finding.
Survey: popular method of interviewing a few happy customers in order to promote my practice.
Systematic review: a review of all the positive results I could find.
Like it? If so, why don’t you suggest a few more entries into my dictionary via the comment section below?