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April 15, 2019 | 8 Comments

Randomization Isn’t Needed — And Can Be Harmful

Had a named person in statistics (Andrew Althouse) ask me about randomization, which he likes, and which I do not. “I want to compare outcomes for a specific patient group getting surgery A vs surgery B (assume clinical equipoise). If I’m not going to randomize, how should I allocate the patients in my study so I am confident that afterward I can make inference on the difference in outcomes?”

Excellent question. My response, though it was unsatisfying to the gentleman, was “I’d have independent experts allocate patients, ensuring balance of (what are thought to be) secondary causes, where the panel’s decisions are hidden form trial surgeons. Try to inject as much control as possible, while minimizing cheating etc.”

Too terse to be believed, perhaps. I expand the answer here.

Control in any experiment is what counts, not randomization. For one, there is no such thing as “randomization” in any mystical sense as required by frequentist theory. Probability does not exist. Randomness does not exist. This is proved elsewhere.

What we can do is to create some sort of device or artifice that removes control of allocating patients from a man and gives it to a machine. The machine then controls, by some mechanism, which patients get surgery A and which B.

A man could do it, too. But men are often interested in the outcome; therefore, the temptation to cheat, to shade, to manipulate, to cut corners, is often too strong to be resisted. I’ve said it a million times, and I say it again now: every scientist believes in confirmation bias, they just believes it happens to the other guy.

There is also the placebo effect to consider in medical trials. If a patient knows for sure he is getting a sham or older treatment, if affects him differently than if he were ignorant. The surgeons must know, of course, which surgeries they are performing; thus it is impossible to remove the potential for fooling oneself here. The surgeons doing the sham or older surgery (which we can imagine is A) might slack off; when switching to B they might cut with vigor and renewed enthusiasm.

Now if some sort of “randomization” (i.e. allocation control) device that spit out A and B, 100 of each (Althouse later gave this number), it could be that all 100 As were female and all 100 Bs male. It doesn’t matter that this is unlikely: it could happen. Imagine if it did. Would you be satisfied in analyzing the result?

No, because we all believe—it is a tacit premise of our coming model—that sex is important in analyzing results. Why? Because sex, or the various systems biologically related to sex, tend to cause different outcomes, which include, we suppose, the surgical outcomes of interest here. We would be foolish not to control for sex.

Which is exactly why many trials “randomize” within sex by removing the control from the device and giving it back to some man, to ensure a good balance of males and females in the groups. This makes eminent sense: control is everything.

I don’t know what the surgery is, but it has to be something. Suppose it’s some kind of vascular surgery applied near or to the heart. We know there are lots of other causes, such as CHF, that might also play a causal role in the outcomes we’re tracking. If we’re sure of this, we would also “block” on CHF. That is, we would again remove control of the allocation device and give it to a man.

And so on for the other causes. We might not have the funds or time to explicitly control for all of these, in this physical allocation sense. But we might later include these in any model of uncertainty of the outcome. This is also called “controlling”, although there is no control about it. We’re just looking at things as they stood: we had no control over these other measures. (I wish we’d drop the misleading terminology. See this award-eligible book for a longer discussion of this.)

Enter Don Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns. There may be many other causes, secondary or more removed (mitigators and so on), of the outcome of which we are ignorant. This must be so, or science would be at its end. How many such things are there in our surgery? We don’t know. They are unknown unknowns. There could be one, there could be ten thousand. The human body is a complicated organism: there are feedbacks upon feedbacks.

How will the machine allocator split these possible causes in the groups? We have no idea. It could be that the machine, like we imagined for sex, puts all or most of a dastardly cause in A and all or most of a beneficent cause in B. And this could go back and forth, and forth and back across all the other causes.

There is nothing we can do about this. They are, after all, unknown unknowns. But the mechanical allocator can’t somehow magically fix the situation such that an equal number of all causes are distributed in the groups. You don’t know what you’ll get. Worse, this ignorance is true, too, for the mechanical allocator for causes we know but don’t explicitly control for. “Randomization” is the experimental procedure of tossing darts and hoping for the best.

Notice closely, though, that the desire for uniform distribution of causes is sound. It is often thought “randomization” gives this. It cannot, as we have seen. But if it is so important—and it is—why not then control explicitly for the causes we know? Why leave it to “chance”? (That’s a joke, son.)

Consider this is precisely how physics experiments are done. Especially in sensitive experiments, like tracking heat, extreme care is taken to remove or control all possible known causes of heat. Except, of course, for the cause the physicist is manipulating. He wants to be able to say that “When I pulled this lever by so much, the heat changed this much, because of the lever”. If he is wrong about removing other causes, it might not be the lever doing the work. This is what got Fleischmann and Pons into such deep kimchi.

Return to my panel of independent experts. They know the surgeries and the goals of these surgeries. They are aware, as can be, of the secondary and other causes. They do their best to allocate patients to the two groups so that the desired balance of the known causes is achieved.

Perfection cannot be had. Panel members can be bought; or, more likely, they won’t be as independent as we liked. Who on the panel wouldn’t, deep in his heart, not like the new treatment to work? I’ll tell you who: the rival of the man who proposed the treatment. The panel might control sub-optimally. Besides all that, there are always the possibility of unknown unknowns. Yet this panel still has a good chance to supply the control we so rightly desire.

Randomization isn’t needed, does nothing, can cause harm, while blinding is often crucial and control is paramount.

Bonus Althouse also asked this (ellipsis original): “Your ‘expert panel’ has assigned 100 patients to receive A and 100 patients to receive B. 14 of the patients that received A died, 9 of the patients that received B died. Your statistical analysis is…what, exactly?”

He wasn’t satisfied (again) with my “Predictive analysis complete with verification.” Too terse once more. As regular readers know, if we cannot deduce a model from accepted-by-all premises (as we sometimes but rarely can), we have to apply looser premises which often lead to ad hoc models. These are the most frequent kind of models in use.

I don’t know what ad hoc model I’d use in this instance; it would depend on knowing all the details of the trial. There are many choices of model, as all know.

“That’s a cop out. Which model is best here?”

Glad you asked, friend. We find that out by doing a predictive analysis (I pointed to this long paper for details on his this works) followed by a verification analysis—a form of analysis which is almost non-existent in the medical literature.

I can sum up the process short, though: make a model, make predictions, test the predictions against reality.

Makes sense, yes?

April 14, 2019 | 1 Comment

Summary Against Modern Thought: Divine Providence Does Not Exclude Fortune & Chance

Previous post.

God exists. So go ahead and break out the dice! As long as we understand that chance only means lack of knowledge of cause.

THAT DIVINE PROVIDENCE DOES NOT EXCLUDE FREEDOM OF CHOICE

1 It is also apparent from the foregoing that divine providence does not take away fortune and chance from things.

2 For it is in the case of things that happen rarely that fortune and chance are said to be present. Now, if some things did not occur in rare instances, all things would happen by necessity. Indeed, things that are contingent in most cases differ from necessary things only in this: they can fail to happen, in a few cases. But it would be contrary to the essential character of divine providence if all things occurred by necessity, as we showed. Therefore, it would also be contrary to the character of divine providence if nothing were to be fortuitous and a matter of chance in things.

3 Again, it would be contrary to the very meaning of providence if things subject to providence did not act for an end, since it is the function of providence to order all things to their end. Moreover, it would be against the perfection of the universe if no corruptible thing existed, and no power could fail, as is evident from what was said above. Now, due to the fact that an agent fails in regard to an end that is intended, it follows that some things occur by chance. So, it would be contrary to the meaning of providence, and to the perfection of things, if there were no chance events.

4 Besides, the large number and variety of causes stem from the order of divine providence and control. But, granted this variety of causes, one of them must at times run into another cause and be impeded, or assisted, by it in the production of its effect. Now, from the concurrence of two or more causes it is possible for some chance event to occur, and thus an unintended end comes about due to this causal concurrence. For example, the discovery of a debtor, by a man who has gone to market to sell something, happens because the debtor also went to market. Therefore, it is not contrary to divine providence that there are some fortuitous and chance events among things.

Notes Failure to understand all aspects and condition of a cause is chance. As is also proved in the next argument. Remembering, of course, cause is not only efficient cause.

5 Moreover, what does not exist cannot be the cause of anything.

Hence, each thing must stand in the same relation to the fact that it is a cause, as it does to the fact that it is a being. So, depending on the diversity of order in beings, there must also be a diversity of order among causes.

Now, it is necessary for the perfection of things that there be among things not only substantial beings but also accidental beings. Indeed, things that do not possess ultimate perfection in their substance must obtain such perfection through accidents, and the more of these there are, the farther are they from the simplicity of God. From the fact, then, that a certain subject has many accidents it follows that it is a being accidentally, because a subject and an accident, and even two accidents of one substance, are a unit and a being accidentally; as in the example of a white man, and of a musical, white being.

So, it is necessary to the perfection of things that there should also be some accidental causes. Now, things which result accidentally from any causes are said to happen by chance or fortune. Therefore, it is not contrary to the rational character of providence, which preserves the perfection of things, for certain things to come about as a result of chance or fortune.

6 Furthermore, that there be order and a gradation of causes is important to the order of divine providence. But the higher a cause is, the greater is its power; and so, its causality applies to a greater number of things. Now, the natural intention of a cause cannot extend beyond its power, for that would be useless. So, the particular intention of a cause cannot extend to all things that can happen.

Now, it is due to the fact that some things happen apart from the intention of their agents that there is a possibility of chance or fortuitous occurrence. Therefore, the order of divine providence requires that there be chance and fortune in reality.

7 Hence it is said: “I saw that the race is not to the swift … but time and chance in all” (Sirach 9:11), that is, among things here below.

April 13, 2019 | 6 Comments

The Week In Doom — Big Sister’s Hate List Edition

Item ‘Doctor’ Advises Threatening Suicide To Get Transgender Treatments For Kids

Last month, Justice Gregory Bowden of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada ruled that a 14-year-old girl may begin receiving testosterone injections without parental consent. Bowden’s ruling, hailed as a “massive legal win” by the American LGBTQNation, ensured treatment would proceed without parental influence by declaring that if either of the girl’s parents refer to their daughter as a girl, they will be considered guilty of family violence under the Canadian Family Law Act…

Last Monday, however, new information surfaced that may favor Clark’s chances before the bench. Dr. Wallace Wong, the psychologist who labeled Maxine transgender, is facing calls for an inquiry into the conduct of his practice.

On February 28, the day after Bowden’s decision was released, Wong spoke at an event hosted by Vancouver Public Library. In a tape of the event obtained by Canadian pro-family group Culture Guard, Wong is heard proudly describing the scope of his children-only “gender therapy” practice, noting that his youngest client is not yet three years old and that he has 501 orphans and foster kids in his local practice.

Like I said before, I’m only amazed Canadians aren’t rising up and slitting throats.

Item Nessel, civil rights unit to increase prosecution of hate crimes

Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu announced the department is creating a process to document hate and bias incidents that don’t rise to the level of a crime or civil infraction.

Attorney General Dana Nessel previously announced plans for a hate crimes unit in her office. She reiterated the plans Friday after a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center found active hate and extremist groups in Michigan had increased by more than 6 percent from 2017 to 2018…

“These groups range in the ideological extremes from anti-Muslim, to anti-LGBT to black nationalist and white nationalists,” Arbulu said in a statement. “Particularly of concern, over one half of the identified groups are located east of US-23 between Flint and Ann Arbor.”

Church Militant/St. Michael’s Media in Ferndale is listed by the law center as an “anti-LGBT” hate group…

A related headline: LESBIAN JEWISH DEMOCRAT DANA NESSEL MAKES HISTORY IN MICHIGAN. Her accomplishment? Besides announcing a penchant for perversion, she created a secret watch blacklist on which citizens of Michigan will be entered if they are suspected of hate. Are you now or have you ever spoken out against sodomy?

Item Explosive Rise in Teens Seeking Sex Change Rocks Sweden

The number of teenage girls seeking sex reassignment treatment has increased by an avalanche-like 1,900 percent. Many of the patients suffer from additional diagnoses, such as self-harm, autism, or anorexia. Despite the lack of research and negative feedback from “regretters”, the patients still get prescribed their treatment…

At the same time, many youngsters who have undergone gender reassignment have rued their decision only to discover that the transition is irreversible. SVT described instances of the Karolinska University Hospital surgically removing the breasts of girls as young as 14. The so-called “regretters” are subsequently offered trauma treatment at the Lundstrom reception in Vastra Gotaland. In the past two years, the clinic has seen patients even under 16 years of age…

“Mika”, one of the many “regretters”, came to have second thoughts about her gender correction after testosterone treatment. While it “felt good at first”, she admitted, it didn’t solve the problems. In retrospect, she called it “sick” and described her generation as “guinea pigs” for a lack of science.

Tranny madness is a malady of the mind. This is not biological. This kids were not “born this way.” This is yet another instance of the madness of the crowd.

Item

This isn’t clown world. This is demon world.

Item “It got real gay real quick out there.”

Few Democratic presidential candidates could assess their surroundings so bluntly without seeming painfully out of line. But Buttigieg is not like any other Democratic presidential candidate — in part, if not exclusively, because he is gay.

Many are as anxious to vote for “gay” person because he is “gay” as they were to vote for a black man because he was black.

Identity politics rules.

Item The ‘Trans” Child as Experimental Guinea Pig

Some American girls have had double mastectomies as young as 13. Planned Parenthood operates on an “informed consent” basis — meaning that young people are briefed on “both the risks and the benefits” of cross-sex hormones and do not require a letter of referral from a therapist…

In a presentation at the United States Professional Association for Transgender Health’s 2017 conference, Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the medical director of the largest transgender-youth clinic in the U.S. (and one of the doctors leading the NIH study), explained how she had interacted with an eight-year-old girl brought in by her mother.

According to her own account, Olson-Kennedy asked the girl, “Do you think that you’re a girl or a boy?” The child looked confused and answered, “I’m a girl because I have this body.” Olson-Kennedy then made up an analogy about Pop-Tarts being put in the wrong box, which prompted the girl to turn to her mother and say, “I think I’m a boy and the girl is covering me up.” After audience laughter, Olson-Kennedy remarked that this was an “amazing experience.”

It’s amazing, all right. I wonder when people like Olson-Kennedy find themselves in Hell they will say to themselves, “Well, at least I cut the tits off of hundreds of little girls.”

Item

We are doomed. Plan accordingly.

I do not mean this in jest, nor am I aiming for the sardonic.

April 12, 2019 | 1 Comment

Reader Help Request: Any Companies Requiring Diversity Statements? (Please Share)

Do any companies, anywhere in the West, require Diversity or Diversity & Inclusion statements?

If you know of any, please leave details in comments below. If you’d like to comment anonymously, please use the Contact Me page. Your information will never be shared (you do not have to give your real name or email).

Please share this post so that we can get some kind of sample. Use the share buttons below.

There are several possibilities for these statements:

One is a condition of employment: does your company require a D&I statement, voluntary or otherwise, before you can begin work? I don’t mean whether they ask whether the employee belongs to, say, some non-procreative sexual-desire minority, or the like. I mean opinions about D&I.

A second, and I suspect more common avenue, are annual employee reviews. Do employees have to show progress or “awareness” of any common SJW topic; i.e., of “LGBT++++”, “racism”, etc. etc.? Do employees get HR or employee review credit for attending any kind of D&I “training”?

Many companies, such as Goldman Sachs, have programs for, say, perversions (see this link for one). I don’t mean the presence of these programs per se. I want to know if employment prospects are officially enhanced by attendance at these events.

Background

We have seen D&I oaths before: University of Cincinnati Will Require Diversity Oath of Professors, Staff, The Week In Doom — Diversity Statement Edition, and so on.

So far as I know, these oaths are only to be found at Indoctrination Centers, i.e. universities and I imagine certain NGOs.

Here is another example, penned by a scientist who fled Australia for China where, he swears, he has more freedom. “‘I left Australia because I am fed up with seeing job and grant opportunities dwindle for real astronomers,’ he says.”

“The political climate in Australian universities was one of the main reasons why I left,” says the astrophysicist.

“It’s very hard to find a tenured job in astronomy if you don’t belong to a protected group (alas, I am a white hetero Christian male, bad luck!) and/or you don’t do enough visible activism (or at least enough virtue signaling) for a number of green-left issues. In China, it’s highly likely that Chinese astronomers are subject to the same political interference from the Communist Party, but at least a foreigner like me is left alone, and I can do astronomy in peace, without wasting my time with diversity initiatives. And I see first hand that astronomy jobs are still given to the best candidates regardless of gender, ethnic origin, etc. Unlike my Australian boss, my current Chinese boss has never berated me for not being socialist enough…

“There are many levels of discrimination. At one level, you have an increasing number of jobs, fellowships and grants officially reserved for women and ‘first nation’ people. At another level, for jobs open to white males, there will be special clauses in the application to make sure the candidates are sufficiently woke. For example, you’re required to write a ‘diversity statement’—which is nothing more than a pledge of allegiance—to illustrate how you have shown ‘leadership’ when it comes to diversity issues in your previous jobs, your teaching and your research (organizing workshops, writing reports, giving talks for women-only audiences, etc.)” [emphasis mine].

These are the kinds of statements I meant above.

Again, and regular readers know I rarely ask this, please share this post so that we can get some kind of sample. Use the share buttons below.

Thanks!