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December 15, 2010

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richard taylor

Hello, why is it that every press release concerning another breakthrough with some issue related to Alzheimer's disease ends with words like "of course this needs more study, more research is required, if proven true these results will...) and ends with similar caveat emptor like warnings?

Unlike most of the questions I ask, I know the answer to this. Its because most folks aren't really confident about the assumptions upon which their studies are based. Therefore even when their natural tendency is to crow accompanies their press release, they feel compelled to peep at the end of their announcements.

Begging the question is a common fallacy in logic. We assume beliefs that aren't facts, and then based upon those beliefs we conduct research, draw conclusions and issue press releases based on the research results, begging so many questions our conscious' force us to end with a "buyer beware" (caveat emptor) statement.

Those of us living directly and indirectly with dementia have a difficult time not begging questions we want others to be sure of. Do you know what causes Alzheimer's disease? Do you know if there is more than one form of Alzheimer's disease? How did you distinguish between those with pure Alzheimer's disease, and those with mixed forms of dementia? Do different responses to my symptoms occur when my symptoms are in different stages of development? What variables did you control for in your study, other than someone told someones they did or did not have Alzheimer's disease? Do you know all the variables that determine who, what, and when someone shows the symptoms of dementia? How did you adjust for these variables? What are your own biases /assumptions vs. widely accepted facts and growing consensus concerning Alzheimer's disease? Do external variables ever affect your research assumptions?

We all need to stop begging and stand up and speak out!

Richard

Danny

Richard got right to the heart of it above, as usual.

Besides the issue of false positives/false negatives that you touched on Mona, we also should be mindful of the cost of these procedures if adopted by our healthcare system (one rep from Athena, a biotech company that does biomarker screen, charges over $2,000 for an amyloid/tau test...not to say anything about cost for nurses/doctors who perform the test), and the intrusiveness of these procedures (do we want to give everyone w/ a subjective complaint a spinal tap and multiple scans?).

Just so many outstanding questions for these researchers to answer before we can even faintly consider the adoption of these guidelines.

Great article, Mona

Marty

Thanks for your thorough analysis, Mona. This adds to my doubts about stats in less wealthy countries. Could they be way off simply because they can't afford diagnoses? Then we go and base our assumptions about Alzheimer's on comparative statistics when the process of obtaining figures itself is wrought with barriers and is in so much flux.
Nevertheless, we have to keep trying to figure things out even if it's two steps forward, one step back. Eventually we'll inch toward the truth.

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