The myth and fallacy of simple extrapolation in medicine

Synthese 198 (4):2919-2939 (2019)
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Abstract

Simple extrapolation is the orthodox approach to extrapolating from clinical trials in evidence-based medicine: extrapolate the relative effect size from the trial unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. I argue that this method relies on a myth and a fallacy. The myth of simple extrapolation is the idea that the relative risk is a ‘golden ratio’ that is usually transportable due to some special mathematical or theoretical property. The fallacy of simple extrapolation is an unjustified argument from ignorance: we conclude that the relative effect size is transportable in the absence of evidence to the contrary. In short, simple extrapolation is a deeply problematic solution to the problem of extrapolation.

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References found in this work

Inductive risk and values in science.Heather Douglas - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (4):559-579.
Measuring effectiveness.Jacob Stegenga - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54:62-71.
What evidence in evidence-based medicine?John Worrall - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S316-S330.

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